In their fifth year as a program, and with a new head coach, the University of Indianapolis Water Polo Team is preparing for their upcoming season.
According to Water Polo President and senior biology major Brad Moon, this year Student Affairs launched a new, three-tiered classification system for Registered Student Organizations. UIndy’s RSO Handbook states that the first-tier includes traditional RSOs, the second tier contains RSOs that actively support university goals for recruitment and retention, and the third tier is for club sports. This year, water polo was elevated to a third-tier RSO, which entitles the team to extra funding.
“So now, we’re a club sport RSO,” Moon said. “What that means is that we have all the same rules as normal RSOs, but we get increased funding, and then we also get the opportunity to have a coach and specific uniforms purchased for the team.”
In Sept. the team welcomed a new coach, Marian University medical student Alex Waldherr. Waldherr said, water polo is a complicated and difficult game.
“I would describe water polo as a hyper-physical blend of basically every characteristic of a sport,” Waldherr said. “Power, finesse, tactics, endurance, speed. You name it, water polo demands it in some way, shape or form. It’s got a shot clock like basketball and power plays like hockey. And with no protective padding.”
Moon said there are currently 15 team members who vary in age and experience. Moon said most students are freshmen and sophomores who come to the team with no experience in water polo, but have history in swimming or other sports. Moon said that new players have a lot to gain by joining the team.
“They [the team] have a great source of how to keep off the freshman 15.” Moon said. “So, the great exercise that you get, but also the team camaraderie… I like to say that water polo is the first family I found on campus.”
Freshman music education major Jenna Crafts said she has enjoyed these same aspects of being on the team.
“I was looking for an activity that would encourage me to stay active,’’ Crafts said. “And something that was different than all the music courses that I was taking…. It’s kind of nice to escape to a different group of friends.”
Waldherr said that he is optimistic about the upcoming season, but having reasonable expectations is important since the team may be playing against teams who are much more experienced. He said he hopes that students develop a good understanding of the game and perform better at each tournament so that eventually the program can be self-sustaining.
“I just want to emphasize that the team has done really well thus far,” Waldherr said, “They’re very receptive to the feedback I give them, and they’re receptive to the ideas that I bring to the table. And I think that with this positive attitude, this is a team that is going to grow and a program that is going to thrive if this continues to be the culture.”
Moon said they have competed with other teams in recent years such as the University of Notre Dame, Oakland University and Purdue University. The team aims to compete in at least two tournaments a year, mostly against other startup teams, because UIndy’s program is still being established as a team Moon said. The team will be competing at Lawrence North High School against Ball State University and the Indianapolis Masters Water Polo team on Nov. 9.