Water Polo Embodies Carleton’s Spirit
Carleton University Athletics
By Aron Feingold
Unigo Campus Rep at Carleton College
When asked to name his favorite aspect of club water polo at Carleton, Brendan Cassidy, a sophomore from California and co-captain of the water polo team, responded, “The same thing as my favorite thing about Carleton: the great people. Water polo is our only common interest, we’re a bunch of really different people…but somehow this crazy group comes together a few times a week and ends up having a great time.”
Carleton offers many superb club sports team options, including incredibly competitive ultimate Frisbee, and the popular rugby, lacrosse, and ice hockey teams. But, as Cassidy suggests, water polo at Carleton stands out because it encapsulates everyone’s favorite aspects of Carleton: unique and fun people bonded by a common interest who work incredibly hard and yield successful results.
The water polo team holds practices year-round, and typical weeks include three two-hour long practices, with optional one-hour conditioning practices twice a week. In the fall, the team is co-ed and usually participates in three tournaments. There are two final tournaments held in the winter and spring, but only the women’s team partakes in them. The water polo team competes in the Heartland division of the Collegiate Water Polo Association, and the women commonly finish the season in the top half of the conference. Another unique aspect of the water polo squad is that only about half of the members played water polo in high school, and the other half pick it up as a new sport in college. The experienced players provide guidance and support for the newcomers.
Rachel Stephenson, a senior biology major, was a newcomer to the sport of water polo when she arrived at Carleton, although she swam competitively in high school. She flourished on the team, and is now the captain of the women’s squad. Stephenson elaborated on her club water polo experience, “Water polo has given me the opportunity to be a leader. The club is run by four captains, and we divide up the duties as we see fit. Some people are more involved in treasury, paperwork, and planning tournaments, while other people are more involved in planning and leading practice. We don’t have a coach, so it’s completely up to us to figure out what we need to work on, what we’re going to do at each practice, and carry that through.”
While Carleton offers club ultimate Frisbee teams which are nationally recognized, and programs such as lacrosse, rugby, or ice hockey which typically have more participants, water polo is touted as a special club sport because its members represent Carleton’s greatest asset: hardworking, fun-loving, team-oriented, and unique people.