Putting the W in Water Polo

Wilcox High School has always been proud of its sports teams. One look at all the banners in the main gym can demonstrate just how well the sports teams perform. During the fall season this year specifically, one particular team did exceptionally well, breaking records.

According to team Captain Lucy Clarke, the girls water polo team were “undefeated SCVAL (Santa Clara Valley Athletic League) El Camino League Champ[ion]s.” SCVAL is split into two leagues: De Anza League and El Camino League. The De Anza League are typically for stronger teams while the El Camino League is for weaker teams. Rich Cruzen, the coach of varsity girls’ water polo, adds that “This is the first time in team history the Girls team were outright Division Champions”—as opposed to their co-championships previously—“and participated in CCS play-offs.” Although the wins boosted the team’s morale, they never necessarily talked about them. The wins did not distract the team, and instead of gloating over their successes, they focused harder on their performance. The members always strived to be the best versions of themselves at the next game. Lucy explains that although they were proud of their victories, the team understood that “a lot can change from the first time you play a team and the next time you see them,” which led them to continuously be cautious about their mindset.

Aside from their level of concentration, one other factor made this year’s team different from previous years. This would be the team’s bonding and chemistry, which is arguably one of the most important influences on any sports team. Lucy explains that “last year was the first year most of the team managed to really connect with each other really well; before, we were all just teammates that didn’t really talk outside of the pool—but this year, we were all really close and I think how well we all knew each other really helped in games.” As the players enjoyed each other’s presence and got along with one another well, it definitely helped with their communication during games. Varsity player Addie Garnett adds on that the team’s great bond was what strengthened them. 

Coach Cruzen also complimented the leadership council of the team, which made an effort to connect and appreciate every member. He adds, “I really think that the dedication and the inclusion brought us together to form the championship culture.” In addition, in previous years, there were conflicts that brought tension between the members. This year however, the team “enjoyed being around each other,” as stated by Garnett. 

Coach Cruzen also expressed his thoughts on the team’s performance moving forward. He reveals that “While we graduated some true leaders and strong performers on our team, I feel that the ethics and culture they helped establish will be with us for years to come.” Lucy, a senior, has been playing since her freshman year, and expresses that she will miss playing water polo for Wilcox. However, she also notes that although she would love to keep playing the sport in college, she knows that it will not be the same, especially with different teammates. Addie expresses her gratitude to have had the chance to play with the teammates she is currently playing with. In addition, Coach Cruzen states, “I’m very proud of our team and privileged they included me in their journey.” 

For weeks on end, the girls’ water polo team continuously had games, which wore them out physically and mentally. Anyone with a 7th period class in the R building would have undoubtedly heard the girls’ yells and cheers. Now, the Wilcox community can cheer for them together. Not only should the members be congratulated for their achievements, but they need also to be applauded for their dedication. As Coach Cruzen said, “They all took a risk and stepped out of their comfort zone socially, mentally, and physically. They sacrificed every afternoon for months to prepare themselves for this season.”