When Co-Captain Sarah Al-Mayahi ’17 first arrived on campus as a Junior, she had no water polo experience. Now, in her fourth year on the team, Al-Mayahi is a three-year starter, serving as a crucial member of Andover Girls Water Polo.
Al-Mayahi began swimming in fourth grade, so, while she knew little of water polo, her skills as a swimmer gave her a strong foundation to build upon. After competing on Andover Girls Swimming during her Junior year, Al-Mayahi decided to try out for the water polo team. Over the course of her time at Andover, Al-Mayahi has transformed her water polo game and developed the skills and confidence to take on the important leadership role of co-captain.
Al-Mayahi said, “I came in being really shy and uncomfortable because obviously I didn’t really know anything about the game, I couldn’t even catch a ball.”
“But coming in Lower year, we lost all of our starting line up, so I was put in as the only lower starter, so I had to take charge of the situation, and I think that’s when I started getting more interested in [the sport] because I knew that I had to step up,” continued Al-Mayahi.
According to Head Coach Dan O’Shea, Al-Mayahi’s hard work and dedication to bettering her playing style makes her a great player. O’Shea has been working with Al-Mayahi since her Junior year and praises her transformation.
Coach O’Shea said, “As a player, her [playing ability] is night and day. When she came to the team she knew nothing and now she’s captain, and it’s a well deserved position for her. She’s now at the point where she’s learned and internalized the skills in such a way where I’m relying on her to help newer players, to help teach them the skills when I’m not able to hop into the water. She’s there to help them learn,”
“She definitely does [lead by example]. When she’s in the water, she fights hard in the games. She’s a very strong player, very knowledgeable, she looks for opportunities and she tries to make plays happen and she doesn’t get up in anybody’s face either if they make a mistake: she’s there to help them and she works with them,” continued Coach O’Shea.
According to her teammates, Al-Mayahi’s dedication to building a strong team is rooted in her ability to communicate with others.
As a newcomer to the team and the sport, Lindi Schroeder ’20 greatly appreciates the time that Al-Mayahi takes to help new players adjust to the game.
Schroeder said, “[Sarah’s] wonderful, she’s really, really patient, and she’ll always go to the new players on the team who haven’t played before and she’ll demonstrate things with us and catch with us and give us little corrections. She’s very, very hard working and that’s really inspiring.”
Macey Mannion ’19, another newcomer to the team, said, “Since I’ve never played before, Sarah always gives me helpful tips, especially when we do scrimmages within the team or during daily drills… That makes her a good captain because she isn’t just skilled, but she also helps others get to the place she is now and helps us improve.”
Al-Mayahi’s skills, however, extend beyond her ability to help newcomers learn the skills of the game. Sveva Rosati ’19, an experienced player, felt welcomed and supported by Al-Mayahi upon her arrival to Andover and is continually inspired by her lead-by-example attitude.
Rosati said, “I could tell from the start that she was very into the game and at practice she’s always the first one to hop in the pool and she really takes charge with all of the players and tells us what to do in the best way possible. She is definitely a natural leader in the pool she’s got a lot of energy and a lot of focus and she has a passion for the game, so that’s really good to see in a captain.”
Fellow Co-Captain Morgan Rooney ’17 also credits Al-Mayahi’s passion and focus as being crucial aspects of their leadership dynamic.
“Sarah’s greatest contribution to the team is definitely her work ethic and mentality. I’d say Sarah knows more of the nuances of the game, so she definitely compliments me in the fact that sometimes I don’t know [specifics]. Sarah is a really strong leader, and she really gets us all to work hard but also enjoy the game and have fun, so I really admire how she can juggle those two things,” said Rooney.
Al-Mayahi is extremely grateful for her teammates and credits them as being her favorite part of the sport.
She said, “Water polo is really tough because you really use your whole body and you’re fighting and you’re getting open and you’re making shots and it really does require a lot of teamwork. I think the team is definitely my favorite part because of how close we are and we just inspire each other and it’s just a really fun game to play.”