By Vivian Ealy
Recently, the Water Polo Club at the High School has been gaining popularity as more students have started to show support for the team.
With this higher level of student interest, the club is hoping to make water polo a varsity sport, with the approval of MTSD Athletic Director Roger Czerwinksi. Czerwinski was only considering making water polo a varsity sport if there were separate boys’ and girls’ teams; however, there were not enough people playing the sport in past seasons to make two teams, so the request was denied.
To increase student interest in the sport, the team invited many people to their scrimmage this past Wednesday the 30th; juniors Jack Sheehan and Alex Wood worked especially hard to attract a large crowd for the game. Sheehan and Wood hoped that a big crowd at the scrimmage would showcase students’ enthusiasm for water polo and demonstrate that it is a serious sport deserving of the varsity title.
“I think having water polo [as] a varsity sport would be a great opportunity for swimmers and other athletes interested in pursuing this type of sport,” Sheehan said. “This fall, we had a record turn out for the…season with seventeen players, as previous seasons had around twelve,” and he hopes that number will only go up.
Established in November 2016 by student Kurren Parida, the team previously included both Township and Hempfield students; therefore, the team has branded itself as Blue Knights Water Polo. One of their long-term goals was to make water polo a varsity sport, and this year the team may achieve that goal.
The team meets Monday and Wednesday nights from 6:30-7:45 PM to practice drills and occasionally play a scrimmage against each other. The coaches are Christopher Flores, diving coach, and Kevin Cohen, and the team is funded by the Manheim Township Parks and Recreation program. Although the club is still open to other school districts, it is presently composed solely of Township students.
Coach Flores attempted to convince Czerwinski to make water polo a varsity sport by bringing up the fact that other coed teams in the area have earned the title of varsity, according to Sheehan. Czerwinski is on board with the idea but is not sure there is room in the budget; Sheehan mentions that they will most likely need to fundraise some of the money required for varsity sport expenses.
As a varsity sport, the team would compete against other teams from places like York, Reading, and Philadelphia. They would have the opportunity to play other teams, rather than playing scrimmages against themselves, as they do now.
Wood believes that the team would attract students interested in competing in a varsity sport or those who would simply like to venture out of their comfort zone and try new activities. “That’s what the Manheim Township Water Polo team is all about,” he said.