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Wild Turkeys look forward to another shot next year

Wild Turkey was on the menu about a month early for the Monmouth College Fighting Scots as they defeated the Grinnell College Men’s Water Polo team 12-7 last Sunday in the championship game of the Heartland Conference. The loss ended the Wild Turkeys’ season, placing them second in the tournament and sending Monmouth to the Division III National Club Championships.

“We were cold, we weren’t shooting very well from the outside,” said Co-Captain Sam Sherwood ’12. “We’ve played better games for sure and we were a better team than the scored showed. I think we are a better team than the score showed.”

The squad, which finished the season 9-2, with both losses against Monmouth, was pleased with their season overall.

“We lost five starters from the year before, and [Division III First Team All-American] Alex Phillips ’11 is in London,” Sherwood said. “But people filled the roles really well.”

A few key factors kept the Turkeys from going to the National Championships like they did the past three years. For one, each conference sends two teams to the National tournament. However, because Macalester College, also a member of the Heartland Conference, will be hosting Nationals this year, they get an automatic bid. This means that whoever placed first out of the remaining seven teams in the Conference would get the second slot. Macalester placed fourth in the Conference tournament.

“It was our turn to host, we have the best pool, we have all the best gear, we have top of the line seating and announcing situation all the best scoreboard, shot clocks, in any division—and we didn’t get the bid,” Sherwood said.

Disappointingly, everyone on the team will be graduated before Grinnell has another shot of hosting the National Tournament.

“It will be another seven years before we get another chance, unless other conferences pass on their chance,” said Chris Hwang ’11.

One interesting aspect of the team that proves to have both benefits and disadvantages is their lack of a formal coach. Instead, Co-Captains Sherwood and Sinan Ozer ’11 lead practice.

“I personally have played a lot, but it doesn’t mean I’m a good coach,” Sherwood said. “It would be really nice to have someone there at every practice, that could watch us and learn about game and then help us implement that during the games.”

While most of the other teams in the Conference have formal coaches, the prospect of getting one for Grinnell seems difficult.

“I briefly thought about [trying to get a coach], then I realized we are in Grinnell, Iowa. We would never be able to pay them very much and so, incentive-wise, there’s not much to offer,” Sherwood said.

However, Hwang does see a possibility for the team to acquire a coach.

“Ideally if we could find someone on faculty or a new staff member who is coming in who has played water polo before—that might be the best-case scenario,” Hwang said.

There is an advantage to a peer-coaching system, though—it may help bring out many inexperienced players and increase the amount of enjoyment every player gets out of the season.

“It’s a really welcoming team,” said Beck Ringdahl-Mayland ’13. “One of the great things I think about the fact the its a club sport is there no coach who is sort of a hard-ass, just players who may or may not have played in high school, they really enjoy the game and really enjoy passing it on.”

If the team achieved one thing this season, it was setting itself up for success in the future.

“I think we developed a lot more depth and as opposed to last year, where it was a lot of people’s final year, this year was about kind of looking forward to next year,” Ringdahl-Mayland said.

Due to only graduating two starters and having starter Phillips come back from his venture abroad, the team has a strong sense of confidence for next year.

“We have a young team and a lot of people are going to be back,” Hwang said. “We’ll give them run for their money next year.”

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    RossOct 29, 2010 at 11:07 am

    I love Wild Turkeys!