Since first picking up the sport during his Lower year, Andover Boys Water Polo Co-Captain James Isenhower ’22 leads the team with his radiant, caring, and genuine personality. Originally drawn to the sport by his friends on the Andover swim team, Isenhower seeks to foster a well-connected team environment both in and out of the pool.
According to Trey Wolfe ’23 and Co-Captain Sean Meng ’22, Isenhower’s positive energy, constructive criticism, and disciplined work ethic inspire the team to follow.
Wolfe said, “I think James just brings a lot of awesome energy. He’s also, at the same time, a realist. I think all of our captains are good at that. They’re not afraid to tell us what we can work on and that’s a good thing because you need to have positive reinforcements sometimes. He does it in a way where we’re doing really well with this stuff, but here’s where we can improve vs. we’re bad at this. All of our captains are good at that, but I think with James, that’s where he stands out.”
“He comes from a military family, and [ his determination and hardwork can be seen through that]. He’s the most disciplined out of all of us. He gets his stuff done. He never slacks on any drills. In a game, he would be the one sprinting, and I think that is so important as a captain. He really role models by action; the younger kids see it, and that’s a source of inspiration for them,” added Meng.
According to Isenhower, he enjoys water polo for its reliance on team play, which in turn builds a close knit community among the players.
Isenhower said, “I like how close it brings everyone together. There’s a lot of common communication required, but it’s almost harder to communicate in the water because it’s harder to see and all that, but you just kind of have to work with the chemistry between the players on the team. It’s unique, I don’t know how else to describe it in a better way. I think we’re all really close together. Especially at Andover, we’re a relatively small team, there’s only 15 of us so we all hang out together and have team dinners; we’re all just a close community.”
Isenhower’s calculated and intrepid play in the pool make him a formidable and reliable player, according to Wolfe.
“I would probably say [that James is] genuine, you can always count on him no matter what. He’ll always give it to you straight. That’s one of my favorite qualities about James… [He’s also] reliable, I mean in games he’s never afraid to take a shot, but at the same time if he knows he doesn’t have one he’ll pass the ball. I just think that says something about him, he’s never afraid, but at the same time, he’s a team player,” Wolfe said.
Isenhower aims to lead the team by example and places an emphasis on supporting and guiding new players through the sport.
“I think the biggest way is to lead by example… A lot of us haven’t played water polo before coming to Andover, so I think a lot of us have shared experiences being the scared little freshmen. It’s an intimidating sport when you first try it. Learning how to tread water, it’s the most fundamental thing in water polo. It’s a very unnatural movement, it doesn’t feel right when you first start out. You can be one of the strongest swimmers in the pool, but as soon as you get in the pool for water polo, you have someone trying to climb on top of you, then it’s kind of scary. The biggest thing I can do as a captain, and my captains in the past year have was make sure that the new people know that we’re going to be there to support them and it’s going to be unnatural,” Isenhower said.
Outside of the pool, Isenhower seeks to develop chemistry among the players by connecting with the team through regular team dinners and other bonding activities.
Isenhower said, “We hang out a lot outside of the pool. Team dinners are probably our biggest thing. Again, we’re small enough of a team to fit in one table at [Paresky Commons,] so we’ll eat together there and we probably spend an hour in [Paresky] just talking. It isn’t always water polo-related, I think that’s also a big thing. Part of having such good team chemistry is not always being focused entirely on the sport.”