PNH Water Polo Prepares for Season

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As a warm-up for practice sophomores Athena DeKinder and Anna Zwibelman practice throwing and catching the ball. In water polo, player have to throw and catch the ball in a certain way with one hand. Goalies are allowed to use both hands.

Alex Tycksen

Parkway North’s boys and girls water polo prepares for a rough season this year. With a new coach and a total of 12 players, three boys and nine girls, it will be a challenge to have enough players to compete.

“I’d like to see us win a lot of games, but I think it’s also important to have a lot of fun as well,” coach Norman Rich said.

Water polo has been a high school sport in Missouri since 1959 and has experienced growth since its founding. There are currently 20 schools in the St. Louis area that offer boys water polo, and eight that offer girls water polo, as a school-sanctioned sport each spring.

“I was one of the original team members who started the team here,” Rich said.
With coach Patrick Storey leaving the team to teach at Lindbergh High School, coach Norman Rich now takes sole leadership of the water polo team. Rich brings experience to the team as he coaches Rockwood Summit’s swim team as well and has played water polo for three years and has been coaching it for 43 years.

“I will say he is a lot different from last year’s coach. He lets the athletes choose what to do and lets us learn in baby steps, and for some people that’s exactly what they need. He’s honestly really kind. Everyone on the team loves him as our coach,” sophomore Samantha Baker said.

Rich predicts that with the girls’ numbers coupled with the skill of returning players, the girls team will go far. The girls water polo team is made of a strong core of mostly returning players with a small number of new players joining at the start of the season.

“The girls team could probably go pretty far and stay as a varsity team. The girls and the varsity teams both go into a game expecting to give their best,” Rich said.

The last player to be a part of the MSHSAA district water polo team was junior Megan Mueller, who played as goalie for the second female team. She returns this year to help the team succeed.

“I have high expectations this year. We have a really good girls team, and we have a really good chance at winning state this year. Our Varsity team isn’t as strong as it was last year, but we still work great as a team. I know everyone will improve this season and just have an overall great experience,” junior Caitlin Shuerman said.

Rich hopes more boys will join during the season to enable them to compete in league matches since teams need at least seven players to compete. The boys team only has three players, with one junior returning player, and two freshmen joining at the start of the season. Only one of the freshmen has confirmed water polo experience.

“The boys play on the varsity team, so we do have our own league and conference. We cannot, however, compete for state leagues. [The boys] are a little bummed out, but we understand and we wish the girls good luck. Practicing with the girls is great. They aren’t a bad group to practice with, and I’m sure the guys feel the same way,” junior Patrick McCollum said.

The boys will continue to practice and play co-ed matches, but are unable to play in a league match at this time.

The girls team’s next match is on April 18 at Pattonville High School. The boys will play on April 12 at Parkway South High School, if they have enough players at that time.