As a Junior, Co-Captain Morgan Rooney ’17 began playing for the joint Junior Varsity and Varsity water polo team after encouragement from Andover Girls Swimming teammates and friends. Since her first season as a member of Andover Girls Water Polo, Rooney has developed her skills greatly and guided younger teammates and now serves as team Co-Captain alongside Sarah Al-Mayahi ’17.
As the captain of Andover Girls Cross Country and a member of Andover Girls Swimming, Rooney is a seasoned athlete. According to Rooney, however, water polo is vastly different from the other sports she plays due to its team-oriented play.
“It’s different than any other sport I play because the other ones are based on individual performance,” Rooney said. “Water polo is truly a team sport, and it’s an amazing feeling to know you don’t have to do it all yourself.”
This season, Andover Girls Water Polo is a young team, with nearly half of its members being newcomers. As a result, Rooney focuses on fostering an inclusive and welcoming environment.
Al-Mayahi said, “This year, we only have 13 girls and about half of them are new. Therefore, returning players are really trying hard to make everyone feel as comfortable as possible. Morgan’s free spirit definitely helps with making new players feel as integrated as possible.”
Sveva Rosati ’19 said, “Our team has a lot of new players, and [Rooney] does a great job at being approachable and welcoming to everyone especially given the different ranges of experience we have on the team.”
Kathleen Ty ’19 said, “Morgan has given a lot of guidance, especially to the newcomers, suggesting ways we could improve and always reassuring us when we make mistakes.”
Rooney also leads with positivity and energy, encouraging her teammates to work hard and polish their skills, while also having fun at the same time.
Rosati said, “I would describe Morgan’s style of leading as super energetic and warm towards the whole team. Morgan definitely brings a lot of laughter to the pool and is able to be a strong captain and player, while also being able to have fun with the game and making sure that practices are a good time.”
Eastlyn Frankel ’18 said, “Morgan has been a uniting force on the team this year. She is always joking around, bringing music, and adding her positive spirit to the team.”
Rooney and Al-Mayahi suit each other very well as co-captains, according to Al-Mayahi. Their complementary styles of leading allows for efficient and effective practices and the refinement of skills.
Al-Mayahi said, “We complement each other’s leading styles really well. When she knows something can be improved, she acts on it right away and makes sure everyone knows how certain things work as a group and as a team. I tend to lead more one-on-one.”
One of Rooney’s most notable features as a captain is her comfort speaking her mind to her teammates, as well as her accountability as both a captain and a mentor.
Al-Mayahi said, “She’s very comfortable when it comes to saying exactly what is on her mind. When she sees something the can be improved, she’ll immediately vocalize it so that everyone can improve on it earlier rather than later.”
Allyson Ty ’18 said, “She is a very spirited leader who always speaks her mind. Since I joined the team, she has been so supportive and encouraging. I could always count on her to be there for the team.”
Last season, Andover finished its season with a record of 8-6 and qualified for the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council championships. This season, Rooney looks to build upon that and have even further success this season.
Rooney said, “My goals for this season are to, first and foremost, have fun and make sure all the new players learn how to play the sport and get valuable minutes in games. Additionally, the goal is to win as many games as possible, including a New England championship, which we won my [Junior] year.”
Rooney will look to lead Andover Water Polo to a victory in its season opener against Loomis Chaffee this Saturday.