Girl’s Water Polo is going through multiple changes this year as it heads into its 2019 season with new players, coaches and hopes. Last year, the 2018 season ended with a Varsity I and Varsity II team in each division of the ILH. However, with the departure of seven seniors, the two teams have combined to play this year in only the Varsity I division. The team has welcomed a number of new players who are quickly learning from the experienced veterans.
May Kamaka ‘20, a skilled center defender and one of the few varsity veterans is excited about the upcoming season. Kamaka took up the sport in the seventh grade after she quit softball and was ready to dive into a newfound passion.
“I didn’t really know what water polo was,” said Kamaka. “ I had played softball and I had been swimming, so it seemed like the perfect sport to do.”
After playing with the intermediate and Varsity II team during her freshman year, Kamaka learned leadership skills and techniques in the water from previous upperclassmen that she is able to pass on to the new and younger players.
The center defender is excited to start learning from her new coaches and playing with new teammates. As one of the elder and more experienced players on the team, Kamaka feels that the new players and coaches bring a refreshing energy into the program.
Along with the addition of newcomers to the sport, the Varsity I Water Polo Team is led by new head coaches, Randy Bart, Sheila Bart, and La’akea Dedrick who bring new strategies, skill sets and energy to the pool. With a rigorous extended practice schedule of two hours per day, including weekends, the coaches are helping prepare the new team for their upcoming season.
“We help the new players by doing in-water demonstrations, sending [the players] video clips, doing examples on the deck, having older girls do demonstrations, and watch other games to go over real situations,” states new head coach, Randy Bart.
As a coach of a relatively new team, Mr. Bart finds that having veterans around helps the coaches as much as they help the new girls.
“There’s so much that comes up in games that you can’t prepare for in practice, so having the experienced girls comment or play through some of those tough situations helps the new girls see how to deal with all those scenarios,” Mr. Bart says.
All sports teams occasionally experience having to work with and build a 'young team.’ With characteristic optimism, Kamaka views this as somewhat of a blessing.
“A lot of our girls are really new, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing,” Kamaka says. “We have quite a bit of new talent.”
This “new talent” includes newcomer Isabel Minaglia ‘20 who began the sport this past summer.
“Being a junior, I thought that it might be too late to start something new, but I really just wanted to start playing out of self interest,” Minaglia said.
Not only is Minaglia new to the sport, but she is also experiencing being on a team for the first time. As an athlete who has previously played only individual sports, including track, cross country and diving, Minaglia seems to have found the perfect team sport in water polo.
“It’s different to be working with people and having people to rely on you, and you relying on others. But I really like being part of a team” said Minaglia.
With motivation to improve, Minaglia is working extra hard to ensure her place on the team and make the most impact to benefit the team.
“Out of all the girls, I feel like I’ve had to put in the most work to catch myself up because I’m new,” Minaglia said. “I’m ready to put in the work, though, because I think, with lots of practice, I could end up like someone who has played for several years.”
With her strong willed “can-do” attitude and persevering work ethic, Minaglia is ready to accomplish her goal of becoming a skilled player.
Currently, the team is focusing on “re-learning the basics” and working together. Despite coming off of a team with strong experience and expertise in the sport, the Kamaka admits there is a certain eagerness for the 2019 season.
“Since we are a new team, the extra practices really help us,” Kamaka stated. “We are definitely prepping a lot more and the new coaches are teaching us a lot of new things, but they are pushing us, which I think is really good.”
Kamaka hopes the team will bond in and out of the water. She also intends to have a presence and impact on the underclassmen and new players.
“My goal is just to offer up as much knowledge that I can as an experienced player, because I know that the other veterans are doing so, as well.”
For newcomers like Minaglia, the the goal is on the receiving end.
“The goal, for me, is to just learn from others and become a good player and not think about how this is my first season.”
Napoleon Hill once said “It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed.” Newcomers and old timers on ‘Iolani’s Girls Water Polo team strive to create a cohesive team and hope that their teamwork, love of the sport, hard work, and perseverance will result in a successful 2019 season.