Captain Feature Sports Spring Sports Water Polo

Water Polo Co-Captain Gwen Empie ’21 Forms Life-Long Relationships with her Teammates

COURTESY OF ADOVER ATHLETICS

Gwen Empie ’21 plays wing for Andover Water Polo.

Coming to the end of her time at Andover, Water Polo Co-Captain Gwen Empie ’21 reflected on her four years in the team and found that the sport significantly shaped her Andover experience. “Water polo is a social sport [for me.] It has been a huge part of my social network here at Andover, and has become a super big pool of people that I would consider my best friends in the world,” said Empie. According to Empie, she appreciates how her teammates care for one another and the general team spirit both in and out of the pool. “I would say my four years, and even this year when we have the guys, the water polo team is a family. We all have team dinner together after practice every day. We all come to the pool and leave everything else behind us and we’re there with each other. We take that hour and a half and we use it, and we have so much fun, so much laughter, so much asking the person next to you that you never would’ve known if you weren’t playing water polo, ‘How was your day?’, ‘How did that math test go last week?’. It’s so connected and it’s so trusting and communicable and just very open. I would say that’s really impacted my career,” said Empie. Empie expressed that her passion for the sport drives her motivation and desire to win. Additionally, she places value in maintaining a positive attitude in practice. “We [play water polo] because we like to do it, and if we win a few games along the line, that’s great. I’m not the most experienced water polo player; I started [Junior] year [so]… I feel like a lot of [my leadership style] is less so advice about what we’re doing in the pool [than it is other things]. I only have two full seasons behind me because of Covid-19 last year, but I think a lot of what we do is keep the mentality high out of the pool, so we can [always] be as positive as we [are] in the pool,” said Empie. According to Empie, while being co-captain has enabled her to point out things she sees in the team, her general attitude to the team has not changed much. “I would say I approach [captaincy] in a similar way that I’ve approached other seasons. I would say I’m a pretty natural leader, just sometimes I feel a little afraid to speak up and speak out. I feel like [the title] has definitely given me more of a light and more of a platform to feel like I’m in a stage where I can speak up and speak out when I see things going on and when I feel like there’s something to say. It’s been really nice in that way, but I wouldn’t say it’s dramatically changed how I approach coming to practice and how I approach doing everything.” Last week, the team was allowed to play with contact again after having to play contactless earlier in the term. According to Empie, this was an unexpected but welcome change, especially after a year without competition. “It feels really really nice to be back in the pool. We are in a coed season this term, but it’s really nice for it to be spring water polo again. Water polo in the spring has been the highlight of Andover since [Junior] year. I’ve always loved fiddling on the lawn before practice and everyone’s getting up and going together… Within this last week, we began contact again, which absolutely just changed the world. It felt like full water polo season again. It really just brought a lot of life back in, and gave our team the energy we needed to push through the rest of the term… We honestly didn’t think we were going to get there this year. You never know how much you’ve missed having an offender on you––almost drowning you–– until you don’t have it for a year and a half. It’s absolutely something that I love that it’s back in my life the way I wanted it to be.”