Bowdoin water polo is lacing up its caps in preparation for the North Atlantic Division championship tournament, which will take place this weekend at Bowdoin’s Greason Pool.
Bowdoin will compete against teams from Bates, Colby and the University of Vermont in a round-robin style tournament for a berth in the Division III Collegiate Club Championship, slated for October 26-27 at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The team has competed in one tournament so far this season, on October 5-6 at Colby. Bowdoin lost all four of its matches to finish last out of the four teams.
In the fall season, the team competes as a co-ed club program against all-male teams. In the spring, only all-female club teams are eligible to compete.
The team, which has been active since the 1970s, currently has 20 players on its roster, with a consistent 10 making up the core of the team. Captain Teddy Wecker ’22, who joined the team as a first-year after playing water polo in high school, believes that the size of the team matters less than the sense of camaraderie between its members.
“The thing I’m most proud of [is] just what a kind and accepting group of people it is, especially in a sport that people think is difficult [and] violent,” said Wecker. “[It’s about] having a kind, caring, [and] accepting group of people … you can just come to [a meeting] and [realize] that anyone that wants to play can do it.”
“The nature of the sport … is strenuous and hard to work. It takes a certain level of guts to get in the pool and try to learn it, which builds camaraderie almost instantly,” said co-captain Holly Harris ’22.
Since the team is a club sport, it receives most of its funding for tournament entry fees from the Student Activities Funding Committee (SAFC). Last year, the team received roughly $3,500, according to the SAFC Digest from the fall of 2018.
The captains admit that it’s hard to keep track of club funding deadlines while also being club leaders and students.
“I know we’re not Student Activities’ favorite team because we have a bit of a history of being not great about meeting deadlines and that kind of thing,” said Wecker. “We’re working on it. It’s definitely challenging to be running practice and wanting to get to know everyone and wanting to teach and play [but] also having to focus on having to request funding for [the club].”
Ahead of the championship tournament, the captains see this season as a period of growth, since their roster is made up of players from varying skill levels—from high school state champions to people who have never touched a water polo ball before.
“We have a majority of people [who have] played before, but we have a crazy range of skill levels [and] comfort in the water, which we’re working on,” said Harris. “There are people who don’t even really know how to tread right, and then they’re playing in an actual game of water polo a month later.”
For Harris, the varying skill level is part of what makes the club experience special.
“[The beginners are] kind of just thrown into it and treated like every other member on the team,” said Harris. “Whether or not you can score from one side of the pool to the other, or you have a hard time treading, we are all in the same scrimmage. We look out for each other.”
Varying levels of participation among area teams also keep things interesting for team members. Last year, when Bowdoin scrimmaged a team from St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont, their opponent did not have enough people to field a complete lineup, so the two teams combined their numbers to flesh out two full teams.
“At that point you’re not really there to win because you are playing people you know,” said Ryan Durkin ’22, a member of the team.
Wecker agreed that while the team hopes for victory, they’re mostly satisfied with having a good time.
“Having an environment that can be competitive … in the fun way and not [always] in the way where people are getting upset when you lose is what we strive for,” said Wecker.
Holly Harris is a member of the Orient Staff.