When did you first start playing water polo?
Eliza Sandell ’20: I started playing water polo in sixth grade. My school at the time had a team, and I decided to sign up on a whim. I played for my school for a year, and then I played for [Stanford Water Polo Club] for years until I came to Andover.
Jackie Rossi ’20: I’ve actually never played before Andover. The coaches encourage a lot of swimmers at Andover to play water polo because it’s a way to stay in the water. My [Junior] year, I didn’t do it, but my Lower year, my coach really wanted me to do it, and I ended up joining, and it was really fun.
What is your favorite part about water polo at Andover?
Mamie Wilson ’20: I think my favorite part about playing for the Andover team is the culture. I think one thing the girls miss the most is getting back together. For me, this is my favorite season just because the girls on the team work really hard to make it less of a team and more of a family environment. We’re all super supportive of each other, and we try really hard to make it a really fun, chill environment… The bus rides are hilarious, and all of our group chats kind of pop off.
What do you love most about the sport?
Sandell: Water polo is an amazing sport, because it’s not just a strength sport—it also requires a lot of endurance, with swimming back and forth a lot. It kind of combines the most difficult parts of physical activity you can do. Especially once you get more advanced, it’s a very mentally challenging sport, so once you’re learning complex plays, it’s both a huge physical challenge and a big mental challenge, and I’ve always enjoyed that about it.
What’s your favorite memory from your time on the team?
Sandell: In my Lower year, it was our last home game, and we beat the other team. We went into quadruple overtime, and when we beat them, it was absolutely amazing. Everyone jumped in the pool at the end, and we were all so excited. It was just the best game ever. We had played two games that day, so everyone was so exhausted, but it was just amazing.
Wilson: Our assistant coach my Lower year, [ Jill Meyer ’08], would do fun little breaks from going hard in practice, and she would play fun 80’s music and we would do water aerobics, which was super fun.
What have you learned from playing water polo at Andover?
Rossi: I think something that our team always stresses a lot is how important communication is during our games. That’s something that we always work on a lot during the season, because the part that brings us all together in the pool is being able to communicate in the pool without giving away our strategy to the other team. Last year, I was a starter, and we’d lost a lot of our players because they had all graduated, and we only had about 4 to 5 returners… We were the underdogs that season, and we only won one game, so that was the season we learned to love to sport and not focus on winning the game but just to play for fun and to be with our teammates.
What is your favorite team tradition?
Wilson: One thing that we do all the time is rose, bud, and thorn. It’s just kind of a classic type of thing that we do after the games, and before the games we mainly just try to hype up everyone. It’s kind of a tradition for [Hailey Wadell ’21] to make a playlist every year, and she plays it on the bus for us to get us pumped before games [and] excited to get in the pool.
Who were some role models from the past that you look up to?
Rossi: One of the captains in my Lower year was Eastlyn Frankel [’18], and she was also the [Student Body] Co-President her Senior year. A big part of why I wanted to join the team was because I knew she was on the team and I really looked up to her, so she was a huge role model. A lot of the girls were also on the swim team, and it was cool to watch them switch over from swimming to water polo and still be so skilled, so I definitely looked up to those people.
How are you trying to connect with your team despite being off-campus?
Sandell: The coaches and the captains have been having a couple Zoom meetings to talk about this, and we’ve been doing some team Zooms, which has been really fun to get to see everyone. In the beginning, we were doing some training and trying to get people to stay fit, but then the season got cancelled, so that’s on pause now, but we’re hoping to do some fun competitions on Instagram and just keep people connected, having fun with their pets, baking, that kind of thing.
Rossi: We’ve been talking amongst the coaches and the captains about a bunch of different ideas. A lot of them include Zoom, but some ideas that are more specific to water polo is that we’ve been thinking about doing team viewing sessions of a water polo game. That’s something that we used to do a lot in-person where we’d watch Olympic games together, analyze them, and talk about different plays and techniques. We can still do that virtually, so we’re planning on doing that. We’re also planning on benefitting from everyone being in quarantine to reach out to alumni who have been on the team.
Editor’s note: Hailey Wadell is a Copy Editor for The Phillipian.