Captain Feature Sports Spring Sports Water Polo

Water Polo Co-Captain Bianca Rodriguez Pagano ’21 Uses Quick Instincts and Strong Arm on Offense

COURTESY OF BIANCA RODRIGUEZ-PAGANO

Bianca Rodriguez-Pagano ’21 also participates in Andover Girls JV1

Despite having never played the sport before her Junior year at Andover, Bianca Rodriguez-Pagano ’21 quickly learned and became adept on offense, swiftling maneuvering around opposing defenders in the pool. Rodriguez-Pagano has focused on creating a close team community and has also served as a mentor to younger members of the team. According to Rodriguez-Pagano, she started with no knowledge of the sport and followed in her older sister’s footsteps. She loves that water polo is a sport that any athlete can quickly pick up, as she and many of her teammates all did. “I really did not play water polo before I came to Andover except for the fact that my sister played. She [graduated in the class of 2016] and she played water polo. That is how I got into it–I came to Andover with no experience except knowing how to swim. Water polo is a sport on campus where you can really jump right into it, especially considering the fact that the majority of new players have never played before. They are usually just experienced swimmers, which is what the appeal to it is. It is fun because everybody is in the same boat,” said Rodriguez-Pagano. Rodriguez-Pagano acknowledges her weakness having not had an extensive swimming background, but she found success as a talented thrower. “To be completely honest, I am a bad swimmer. I have no stamina and I could not swim across the pool a bunch of times to save my life. What comes in handy is that I am really small. I am five-foot three and because of that, I can get in between people and around them really quickly when I am setting up at each end of the pool. When I actually have the ball in my hands, I have a quick arm. I would definitely say my strengths lie in faking shots and then shooting because I have a strong arm,” said Rodriguez-Pagano. According to Co-Captain Hailey Wadell ’21, Rodriguez-Pagano’s strengths as a leader originate from her ability to create a positive atmosphere and support the younger members of the team. In the pool, Wadell describes her as an impactful force who helps others reach their full potential. “Bianca is very aware of the people around her and what she can do for our younger players. She is really positive and comes into practice with a really good attitude. As a player, she is pretty aggressive, so she is an awesome player to train with. She keeps you on your toes and it is great to have someone to go full force against and she’ll come right back with it. She is always a person who is very fun to have in drills,” said Wadell. According to Rodriguez-Pagano she focuses on getting to know individual athletes and facilitating team bonds and trust that way. “As a captain, I take on a more passive approach. I get one-onone with the players in the pool and a lot of times, we help who are new to the team and I take on a lot of those efforts. I play a lot with the newer kids and show them the basics of water polo. It is in the little pep talks and team bonding where I take initiative rather than yelling,” said Rodriguez-Pagano. According to Co-Captain Gwen Empie ’21, Rodriguez-Pagano brings energy to the pool and provides a unique skillset that allows her to play multiple positions. “I would describe her as the most energetic, fun-hearted, high-spirited person. She’s always there for you when you need her, very loyal. She’ll always listen to what you need, and either give you that support or that comfort, or will give you that advice if you need that instead. She’s very adaptable in that way, and she’s always very adaptable in the pool. She’s played every position in the pool. She’s super honest about what she needs [and] she’s super willing to take what you need and take that advice and work with it,” said Empie.