Boiling water: Girls water polo makes a splash at Seabury Hall

Tension builds. Two teams stare at the center of the pool with so much concentration a person might be surprised to see there is nothing there. Silence is cast over the players and audience. Like a brick to a glass window, the silence is broken by a whistle. A rampage breaks loose among the fastest swimmers on each team to snatch a ball in the center of the pool, as the others swim to cover a girl on the opposite team. This is the start of a game of water polo for Seabury Hall’s new girls water polo team.

“What is water polo?” is a question most people might ask. Since water polo is a new sport at Seabury Hall, people may have questions about the sport. Ryan Walsh, Seabury Hall’s water polo coach, said in an email, “A goalie and six field players participate for each team at one time. Players tread water the entire game, and cannot touch the bottom or sides of the pool. Except for the goalie, players may not touch the ball with two hands at the same time.”

The game is played in four seven-minute quarters, with two time-outs allowed per side for an entire game. Player substitutions may be made after a goal, during a timeout, between quarters, or through the ejections area during play. For senior Hannah Shipman the most exhilarating part of the game is, as she stated in an interview, “I would say the most exhilarating part of water polo is probably playing a contact sport, and having defense of offensive and everyone kind-of being on each other, and pushing and shoving underwater, so no one can tell. It gets a little intense, and thats pretty exciting. It different from what I normally do so I really quite enjoy it.”

Unlike “regular” polo, there are no horses. Many aspects of water polo are taken from sports besides just polo. Water polo has a net and after a goal is scored teams line up in the center, like in soccer. The object is to score goals, like in soccer, basketball, lacrosse, or hockey.

Walsh became a water polo coach because he enjoys the sport. He said in an e-mail, “According to Sports Illustrated, water polo is second only to hockey in the highest level of physical conditioning.  I guess it is my contribution to ‘body’ in ‘mind, soul, body.’”

Walsh had been coaching water polo eight years on the mainland prior to coaching for Seabury. The first time he attempted water polo was last year, but only four people were interested. This year he has a team of about twenty-five girls. In an interview freshman Aria DiMartino stated, “It’s always fun to be part of a team because you get to meet new people. And we are new at water polo so we are improving together.”

Senior Kyle Sullivan said that they have been practicing, as of the time of the interview, for two weeks. She has put emphasis on how the team is improving and having fun. Her advice so far is, “Be aggressive, it is a huge part of the game, have perseverance, energy, passion for competition, and love the game.”

A statement that sums up the spirit of water polo at Seabury Hall comes from Sullivan when I asked her about her least favorite game of water polo. She stated, “No least favorite because you get good things from each game even if you lose. I get proud of everyone on our team because of how hard they work. Lots of improvements each time.”