Sports Spring Sports Water Polo

Belinda Wolf Adds Positivity and Energy to Her New Role as Assistant Water Polo Coach

T. WEI/ THE PHILLIPIAN

Coach Belinda received five All-American titles as a diver in college.

Five-time All-American in Diving, Belinda Wolf, has coached Andover Diving for 31 years. This year, Coach Belinda joined the Andover Water Polo coaching staff as an assistant coach. Despite initially being apprehensive, Coach Belinda has become more comfortable with the team and the sport of water polo as the season has progressed. “I was really nervous to coach the sport at first because I never coached it and I never watched it. I did feel honored that Lisa Joel, the athletic director, asked me because she said, ‘These kids need your positive energy,’ and I loved that. One of my favorite things in the world is to make positive and lasting impressions on teenagers that I coach,” said Coach Belinda. According to Coach Belinda, her depth of experience in coaching diving has helped her in her first season coaching water polo. Coach Belinda said, “Because I have experience with coaching diving, everything in diving is very visual so I can spot things, techniques for the things that they have to do in water polo and I can spot them if they’re doing something really great or something that I need to help change.” As a part of her preparation to coach water polo, Coach Belinda turned to Harvard Water Polo Coach Ted Minnis for advice and guidance. “One of the best things that has helped me to be able to coach is that I actually reached out to the water polo coach at Harvard; he’s been great, he’s been having Zoom calls with me, he’s been helping me with drills, he shows me videos of things that I should look for, and I am so lucky that he has helped me. He has also told me that there [are] some colleges that are top in the nation for water polo [whose] coaches didn’t [initially] coach the sport, so he said if I work hard and watch the videos, it will be great, and it is,” said Coach Belinda. According to Captain of Boys Diving and Co-Captain of Water Polo Zachary Peng ’21, Coach Belinda’s hard work and dedication to the team have been evident in practices. Peng also expressed that Coach Belinda’s coaching style has been centered on engaging with the team and instructing her players in a visual manner. “I know Coach Belinda put in a lot of work talking to past and current coaches and [Division I] coaches, really trying to figure her own way out. So far in the season, we have spent a lot of time sitting down, using the whiteboard, drawing out plays, so not only [are] the team [and the] newer players learning, but Coach Belinda is always there attentively listening and asking questions,” said Peng. According to Water Polo Head Coach Alicia Finney and Co-Captain Gwen Empie ’21, Coach Belinda’s passionate personality shines through her coaching and her energetic presence has positively impacted the team. “Coach Belinda’s amazing energy matches the water polo team very well. I think she was able to step into the role of our assistant coach well even though she didn’t have a super big water polo knowledge behind her because she had the spirit that we needed, she has the drive [and] she has the energy. She brings it even on hard days when it’s raining out and no one really wants to do anything,” said Empie. “I think the thing she brings most to the table is her incredible high energy and positive attitude. She’s probably the most aggressively positive person I’ve met in my life, so that’s been really fun to have,” added Coach Finney. Through her coaching, Coach Belinda hopes to contribute this sense of optimism and excitement to the team environment. “I think that I’m so positive that I can have an influence on making the energy positive, and just laughing with the kids and I come up with some crazy things that I do with diving,” said Coach Belinda. According to Peng, Coach Finney and Coach Belinda’s personalities complement each other and through the mix of experience and energy, they have helped make Andover Water Polo practices an enjoyable part of athletes’ days. “Both of them are great for the team, but I think [Coach Belinda] just brings the team a very positive [source] of energy, it definitely adds on to Coach Finney’s experience and interactions with the team. Our players are students; we have rough days, and we can come to practice and it is a space where we can relax and focus on something completely different in our lives while having a great time because of our coaches,” said Peng.