Photo By: Hannah Harper

Photo By Hannah Harper: Senior Beth Long takes a shot on a goal during an after school scrimmage at practice. Scrimmaging helps the girls work together and prepare for states games.

Girls water polo Bears are confident in their ability to pull out a state win

By Emma Klebe ’13

With every passing minute on the clock above the action-filled pool, the water polo girls grew that much closer to becoming state champions. Finally, the clock reached 0:00 and referees’ whistles ended the game, along with a natatorium full of cheers and excited screams. The UAHS water polo girls had just won the 2010 state title.

To say this scene from last year was exciting would be an understatement. Winning the state championship means everything to the team, and they hope to experience a similar victory in the 2011 state tournament.

After nine state title wins and outstanding season records, the girls water polo team has left a legacy. This year is no different in that they are still set on the ultimate goal: the state championship.

As the season progresses, so does their confidence. The girls have confidence that they can win the state tournament.

Senior captain Kelly Steibler is hoping for another win this year. She said she has a strong belief that the team can go far at state.

“Our team has a very big chance of winning state this year. We have a young team, but the learning curve has been huge and we are improving so much every week,” she said.

Also a captain, senior Katie Johanni echoed Steibler’s sentiments.

“If we can stay focused over the next few weeks and not let our previous victories go to our heads, I think we have everything it takes to end the season with a state title,” she said.

While the team has undergone changes since the 2010 season, Steibler remains confident in the group’s ability.

“Although we lost some key players from last years’ state championship team, I think we can be just as successful,” she explained.

Much preparation is needed before the state tournament, but practices, games, and invitationals give the girls a head start.

Steibler said that scrimmaging at practice prepares the team for games. In one tournament specifically, the Beast of the East—which took place in Pennsylvania Sept. 23 and 24—Johanni said the girls really benefited from the gameplay.

“Going to Beast of the East and getting to play against teams at a higher level was great practice and preparation,” she said.

Johanni also said the teams’ attitude plays a role in preparation.

“At this point in the season, mental preparation is just as important as physical, so positive thinking is huge,” she said.

The swimmers have learned to work together and improve throughout this fall in order to accomplish their final goal.

“[Winning the state title] will take a lot of determination and motivation but we have the skills and the team chemistry,” Steibler said.

Steibler is confident in her team’s strategy to wear out their opponents in order to win.

“Our team has very strong swim skills, and we tend to tire out the other teams pretty quickly,” Steibler said. “We will have to run our plays and defenses correctly, of course.”

Johanni also believes that tiring out the opponent is the best strategy.

“We have started to up the conditioning so we can focus on endurance a lot and become the more fit team,” she said.

The girls water polo coach, Dan Peterkoski, has contributed immensely to the teams’ success.

“Our coach really pushes us to compete our best,” Steibler said.

She described how Peterkoski pushes them to succeed.

“He can be intense at times, but in the end we appreciate it because without him we would not be as good as we are.”

If there is one team the girls need to look out for, it is Thomas Worthington. According to Johanni, Thomas Worthington is their biggest rival because both teams know each other’s tricks. This is where the team’s hard work at getting into the best shape possible will allow them to outplay Thomas Worthington.

“With them, the game is more mental, so it adds a level of difficulty,” Johanni said.

Whether the season ends with or without a state title, the girls know their team has had another hardworking season.

“If we don’t win state, it will be disappointing; however, I will personally be proud of the season as a whole,” Steibler said.

Johanni feels the same way when reflecting back upon their season.

“I have been nothing but impressed and proud of the team so far this year,” she said.

After a season of victory and fun memories, Johanni won’t let this final tournament make or break their team’s season.

“There is so much to be proud of I wouldn’t let one game ruin the spirits of the entire season,” she said.