April 22, 2013
Friday evening, your Bears battled against the Stanford Cardinal in our last regular season game. Although the score did not favor us Bears, we gained something more important than a win. Our play in this game gave us confidence, and I believe this confidence results from character.
Saturday night, I earned the privilege to work at the National Youth Sports Awards held by Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA). PCA is a national non-profit organization with the mission to provide all youth and high school athletes a positive, character-building youth sports experience. Throughout my years as a student-athlete I have been fortunate to have been coached by individuals who share the same values as PCA and aided my athletic successes. My experiences with positive coaching styles drew me to the PCA movement and prompted me to share their mission to all of you.
At its annual awards gala, PCA honored 11-time NBA Champion coach Phil Jackson with the Ronald L. Jensen Award for Lifetime Achievement. Phil Jackson's commitment to excellence through positive coaching and desire to inspire future positive leaders makes him an ideal recipient of this award. While Jackson gave his acceptance speech, his large stature and eloquent speaking style captivated the room. However, I became fascinated by stories of his experiences as a coach. There was one common theme throughout his stories: the strength of character. That night, Jackson reinforced the idea that a strong character makes a great player, coach, team, and program during a game and, more important, off of the court. The entire time he spoke, I connected his words of wisdom to my Cal team.
Sunday, I joined my teammates for a morning practice. We hopped in the pool to complete Coach Matt's planned warm-up just like any other day. However, this did not feel like any other day. After our game against Stanford I can now feel a change in the attitude of our team. It is difficult to put into words, but is something I see during practice and out of the pool. My teammates and I are now more focused on the aspects of the team that we have not so greatly recognized before. We Bears are making shots we have not before, making passes that we did not used to see, and stopping plays we have previously allowed. All the while, each player and coach maintains a positive and hopeful attitude throughout the workout and off the pool deck.
This change I see in my team results from character. Whether each player and coach has made a conscious or unconscious decision to make this change, he/she made it to positively impact the team. I believe, especially after hearing Jackson's talk, that altering attitude and actions to make the team better defines one's character. I am proud to be a part of something that chooses to change in this way.
With only four days of training left before we play UCLA in the MPSF Tournament, this is the best time to display character. We chose to change, we chose to get better, and we chose to improve for the success of the team. Now it is time to change our reputation, and reveal our character to our opponents and greater water polo community.
Until next week...that's Cal polo.
April 18, 2013
Hello again Bear fans,
I would like to, on behalf of my teammates and staff, congratulate senior Emily Csikos for becoming the all-time leading scorer in the history of Cal Women's Water Polo. Her accomplishment marks a huge feat for her individual athletic achievement, while displaying the growth and success of our program. Emily made history in this program during our game Saturday against Cal State Bakersfield. After earning a solid win against the Roadrunners, and a very long van ride back from the game, our effort changed and is now all put into the next two weeks of competition.
This week is my favorite of the year: Big Splash week. Each day, up until the first whistle blows on Friday night, we think about our opponent. Any time we play Stanford, the game is a competitive and cutthroat one. There is a deep-seated rivalry between our universities, and this is seen through fierce competition between our opposing athletic departments. A match against Stanford represents more than a simple conference game. Every Bear knows the feeling of playing our rivals from the South Bay and every Bear understands the emotion tied to being a part of this intense rivalry. Head Coach Rich Corso says it best: "If you have problems getting fired up to play Stanford, you have problems."
As the named "Nostalgic Senior" on my team, I tend to tie my personal emotion from my experiences on this team to each individual competition. The Big Splash draws out many of these emotions. Each year, the game against Stanford marks our team's last MPSF conference match. This final regular-season game becomes a showcase of the hard work and effort during our team's last eight months of training. These months are filled with literal blood, sweat, and tears. So after all of this hard work put into our training, what better time to compete against our most formidable opponent and rival?
What's more, this is the first of my last four home games at Spieker Aquatics Complex. My time spent at Cal is now centralized on these next four competitions at our home pool. For these last four years as a Golden Bear, I can wholeheartedly say that I have given everything I could for this program. In and out of the water, I do all that I can for the California Blue and Gold. This team and program mean the world to me. They have immersed me into an environment that fosters personal and team success.
As the nostalgic senior, I have an idealized goal for my last weeks at Cal. My hope is that in these last four games at Spieker, starting with tomorrow's game against Stanford, my teammates and I leave all we have in the pool. Each game should be considered a "last". For my fellow seniors and me, this is a last chance. This game provides our final opportunity to compete at the highest level, and show the knowledge and skills we have acquired in training to do great things. Is that not what sports are all about? I believe our athletic years as a Bear is about knowing that you have given your very best for a common goal. Whether or not you achieve that goal, the team feels no regrets.
Until next week...that's Cal polo.
April 8, 2013
Hello once again, Bear Fans!
It has been two weeks since my last blog entry, and now I write anxiously with so much I want to talk about.
First, on behalf of my team, I want to congratulate the Cal women's basketball team on an amazing and historic season. The successful season these women have had represents what it means to be a great student-athlete and Golden Bear. Each of those athletes' dedication to excellence allowed them to achieve a Pac-12 regular season championship and a trip to the Final Four in the NCAA tournament. These accomplishments are firsts for their program, and we know it is just the start of great play from the Cal women's basketball team.
On Sunday, your Cal women's water polo team did its part to support our fellow Bears in their championship hunt. Many of us went to a local restaurant that was showing the game. Before I knew it, my teammates Remy Price, Breda Vosters, and Ashley Young were leading cheers to the packed restaurant and enabling other viewers to vocalize their support for the women's basketball team. I am blessed to be surrounded by my supportive and encouraging teammates who give what they can for the other teams on campus. As Cal athletes we all face similar challenges, defeats, and accomplishments and saw what it took for the women's basketball team to achieve a record-setting season. We are proud Golden Bears and fully support our fellow Bears in their quest for greatness and for enjoying the ride to New Orleans!
While we had a lot of fun watching other sporting events this weekend, our team competed in two games of our own! Saturday, we made the drive down to play San Jose State University for a conference match. Knowing that we had another game the next day caused us to begin the game a bit more relaxed than we anticipated. However, we refocused and left San Jose with a solid win over the Spartans.
Our team always comes together to fight for a win in a conference game. Sunday's game, although not against a conference rival (Loyola Marymount), drew upon my sense of the Cal Polo family even more.
Every year, the Senior Game we host at Spieker Aquatics Complex holds a special place in the season for our team. At this game, the team recognizes the young women who have dedicated four years of their lives for the academic and athletic success of our program. After three years of seeing the seniors on my team persevere to reach this point in their careers, I had my chance to be honored Sunday with my senior class.
Sunday, an emotional day for my teammates and I, marked a day of accomplishment for all of us. For four years we have fought together. For four years we have studied together. For four years we have hated swim sets together. For four years we have grown, learned, improved, and laughed together.
The height of my emotional tie to this program came after game. All of the seniors were taking pictures together and with our other teammates and families. As I turned to fellow senior Dana Ochsner, it really hit me that our experiences on this team together are soon coming to an end. Dana and I were roommates in the dorms during our freshman year and have gone through every high and low on this team together. We turned to each other before taking a picture together and both of us sighed and realized it is almost over.
The seniors on this team are some of the greatest people I have come to know at Cal. Every day they have inspired me, challenged me, supported me, and carried me through four years of intense training and competition. These girls are my best friends. I could not have asked for a better group of women to share my experiences at Cal. Over the course of four years, I have been privileged to play with so many amazing young women. My fellow seniors and the other girls on this team mean the world to me and have helped shape me, not only as an athlete, but as a person. I am thankful to be a Golden Bear.
As nostalgic as I may be, the season is not over. We have a few weeks until the MPSF conference tournament, and I get to spend each day until then with my best friends playing the sport I love.
Here we go Bears!
Until next week...that's Cal Polo.
March 26, 2013
Welcome back Bear fans,
This past Saturday your Golden Bears were lucky enough to play again in our home pool! That's right, the Women's Water Polo team once again occupied Spieker Aquatics Complex. We competed against a Harvard team which has continually improved throughout this 2013 season. In a game against an opponent we do not see often, a different kind of challenge arose.
The game challenged us to compete after a long week of arduous training. Games like this against Harvard keep us focused on what we need to improve. Furthermore, it calls on every member of our team to participate in the pool to fight for a win. On Saturday, freshman goalie Kathleen Menz earned her first start as a Golden Bear. I speak for the entire team when I say that we could not have been happier for her! Kat had a great career opener. She made stops early in the game, carrying our defensive efforts against the Crimson. This gave us reason to completely trust her in the cage. We are all so proud of Kat for a great start to her career!
Other underclassmen also stepped up in our game on Saturday. Freshman center Brooke Vowell performed well, scoring a goal from center in the fourth quarter. I love when my fellow lefties find the back of the net! Sierra Smiley, another freshman center, added two goals to her opening season total. These freshmen were just two of ten Bears who scored in our game. Having a strong, well-rounded team has been a strength of ours in practices the entire season. When younger girls challenge the older players in training, the entire team improves. This daily competition will carry us forward into a very difficult part of our season.
We have hit a point in our season with few games, and a lot of training, before the MPSF Conference Tournament. This tournament is the climax of our season, and each day we work to get better in preparation for it. Your Bears, while having some tough losses recently, are not backing down. This week is Spring Break for the University, but we continue to train every day and do not consider this much of a "break." If anything, we are using this extra time to its fullest extent by training harder and working together to improve. I personally cannot wait until we have another competition to show off what we learn this week!
Spending our Spring Break at Spieker; it is just another way we Bears roll on.
Until next week...that's Cal polo.
March 18, 2013
Welcome back Bear fans,
In a competitive conference, our water polo season becomes a long journey of emotional highs and lows. For me, the friendships and experiences I share with my teammates help me persevere through the harder times. If you follow our team at all, you know this season has been challenging so far. However, I have a hunch that you do not know much about the girls you read about or watch in the water. I'd like to share with you some special things about my teammates to help you see why I am lucky to be surrounded by these women. These amazing young women would never brag about their accomplishments, so I am going to do it for them!
Let's take a look at junior attacker Ashley Young, for example. Last October, she competed in the Nike Women's Half Marathon across the bay in San Francisco. Now I may be speaking for myself, but because we train in a pool all day, running is not our forte. Ashley, being the intense competitor and athlete we all know her to be, dominated that race! And who stood at the finish line cheering her on? Obviously, her Cal Water Polo teammates. Victoria Williams, Tiera Schroeder, Emily Csikos, and Chris Baker all watched our good friend accomplish her goal.
Outside of the athletic arena, junior goalie Briana Lippert battles in another competitive field - Integrative Biology. Classes at UC Berkeley do not compare with many other universities, and Briana definitely makes the most out of her educational experience. While doing leg strengthening and conditioning drills, Briana is often caught reciting definitions of terms for her physics, chemistry, and biology classes. To most of us, her knowledge sounds like a foreign language. Clearly, she must be fluent because Briana's GPA is the highest on the team. She is an inspiration to every member of our team and we all admire her work ethic.
Senior Remy Price majors in Art while earning a minor in Education. She is our team's resident creative genius and each fall semester has designed a team shirt we all love and wear constantly. This talent does not stay within the confines of our team. Remy volunteers at three local elementary schools, teaching art weekly at each one. My multi-talented friend teaches children about art while also informing them about our team. I cannot think of anyone better to represent our team. As if practices, schoolwork, and volunteering are not time-consuming enough, Remy is also the Vice President of Philanthropy for the Golden Bear Advisory Committee. She helps plan and coordinate all of this student-athlete group's service projects. Remy is a perfect example of what a Golden Bear is because of her community and campus involvement.
I could go on and on about how amazing my teammates are and I do need to briefly mention others. This summer, senior Kirstn Mase plans to hike the John Muir trail and cover 220 miles in about three weeks time. Now that is a quite a hike. Senior Dana Ochsner plans to join a professional women's water polo team abroad in Europe following graduation in May. Wherever she goes, she knows that she can expect a visit from me! Senior Emily Csikos and sophomore transfer Michelle Caron have a love of baking from which we all benefit. Any time they feel like trying out a new recipe, our mouths water in anticipation for the lovely goodies they have brought to the pool. Freshman goalie Kathleen Menz could be one of the most naturally talented girls I know. This girl can do it all! She will sing in the locker room and we all quiet down to listen to her melodic voice. Kat, as she known, was asked by Rich to do a back flip off of the low diving platform. She nailed it on the third try. What's more, this young girl has a big heart and is one of the most caring people I know. I am lucky to have spent this year getting to know her.
Needless to say, I am blessed to spend every day with my talented and beautiful teammates. They inspire, challenge, and support me daily. These things are what drew me to the Cal Water Polo team. Who would not want to be a part of this program with these student-athletes?
Until next week...that's Cal polo.
March 11, 2013
Hello again Bear fans,
Although we experienced a tough loss in Westwood against UCLA this past weekend, I am very proud of my teammates for taking part in another activity. On Sunday, the Bonnie J. Adario Lung Cancer Foundation and Jill's Legacy hosted the Fourth Annual Jog For Jill walk/run around our campus. Jill Costello was a Golden Bear who competed as a coxswain for the Cal Women's Crew team. As a junior, Jill was diagnosed with stage-4 lung cancer, even though she was a non-smoker her whole life. Knowing that her survival rate was low, Jill wasted no time making a difference in the world. This amazing young woman began spreading the word about lung cancer and raising money for research and awareness. Just one year after her diagnosis, Jill led her Varsity 8 boat to a Pac-12 gold medal and a NCAA silver medal. Sadly, Jill passed away from the disease a few months later.
Today, Jill is still an influential part of student-athlete life on campus. Almost every athletic team participated in Jog for Jill on Sunday, and your Cal Women's Water Polo team was no exception. I would like to give a personal shout-out to the freshmen on our team for playing a big role in our participation. They eagerly entered the event and intently listened to their older teammates explain Jill's impact on this campus and our role to continue her legacy. All of the participants at the walk/run came not only to support Jill's dreams, but also to remember and honor a young woman who defines strength and determination.
As student-athletes at Cal, we constantly learn about ourselves as members of a team, a class, and a community. Each day we learn different things in the classroom and in the pool, but I know that they are heavily connected. The tenacity and teamwork athletes learn through sport carry over to their academic and professional lives. Similarly, knowing that you can always improve academically and learn new things helps athletes never settle for mediocrity in their sport. I know that as student-athletes we never stop learning and achieving, and Jill knew that also. Nevertheless, one day our lives as student-athletes will end and we will leap into the world with a new definition of ourselves. My only hope is that all of my teammates can each carry on the strength and determination Jill exemplified in her career as a Golden Bear.
Right now, our team has encountered adversity by losing a few games. However, after seeing our support for Jill and further learning about her legacy and impact, I know we can overcome any obstacle. We are Bears just like Jill. We all have that same "fight" inside of us. Now we must use that "fight" to learn as much as possible and strengthen our team.
Until next week...that's Cal polo.
March 4, 2013
Hello again Bear fans,
This past Saturday our team had the distinct pleasure of honoring a woman so instrumental to our program. Before the game, Athletic Director Sandy Barbour spoke about four-time Olympic medalist and Cal alumnus Heather Petri and her athletic and philanthropic achievements around the globe. Heather has been around the pool a lot this past school year and we all have been lucky enough to talk with her and hear from her experiences as an Olympian and an international representative of Cal Athletics. This amazing young woman has not only achieved so much for herself and her country, but for female athletes internationally. She has proved that hard work can take you as far as you want to go and allows you to achieve the greatest successes you can imagine.
Our Cal Women's Water Polo program retired her cap, number 13, as recognition of her influence to the success of our program. Having this ceremony before jumping into a battle against the Women of Troy proved to be motivation for us young Golden Bears. Seeing Heather and listening to her talk about it being our turn to reach our goals and make a difference was truly inspiring and I believe it propelled our team's great defense in the first half our game.
Now that our MPSF conference season has commenced, the weeks of training change drastically. Making the transition from playing multiple games during a weekend to preparing for a single game demands that we focus on details of our play against specific opponents. For each individual game, we have a full week to prepare to play. This transition poses both an immense relief and challenge. In one case, we only have to play in one game and put everything you have on the line for those four quarters. In practices, we isolate our strengths and weaknesses against how a team plays and work on those things for the entire week of training. On the other hand, once the game begins, there is no turning back. The game starts and each player has to be on point because there is little time to recover from a mistake.
We learned all about the negative side of one-game days this against USC. The Trojans came into Speiker Aquatics Complex with huge momentum from a thrilling win over then-top-ranked Stanford. USC came in with confidence that we Bears are working to achieve. That being said, my tenacious teammates came out against the Women of Troy and battled with them during the first half of our game. To start a game and not allow that team to score a single goal until the beginning of the second quarter is a huge feat. I am so proud of my teammates and proud to be a Bear because we proved, for that first half, that we can play with anyone and our opposition has to work hard for any goal they score.
Although we had an excellent first half of play, we learned how much effort and intensity it takes to truly finish a game. The second half against USC is something we will not forget but from which we will improve. This coming weekend we travel to UCLA to play the Bruins in their home pool. Competing against them is always challenging but I believe we have more to prove and more drive that will launch us into a great battle with them Saturday afternoon. We are the bigger bears after all, and it is time we started acting like it.
Until next week...that's Cal polo.
February 25, 2013
Hey Bear fans,
I love sports. I especially love team sports. No greater satisfaction comes to a competitive athlete than the thrill of making that one perfect play or having that one epic game. Executing the designated game plan perfectly brings about the best sensation possible. In those moments the athlete does not care whether she scored, made the assist, or just cheered from the bench; her team made the play. These moments display the significance of the team's success. Ask most athletes and they will agree.
I bet you are questioning why I chose to begin this week's blog entry with these statements. For young student-athletes, this excitement highly influences her experiences during a short collegiate career. On our team, we learned a lot these last few days. Your Golden Bears just came back from a very emotionally difficult weekend at the UC Irvine Invitational. I will not lie about this past weekend; we did not play our best water polo. However, traveling always brings its ups along with its downs.
On Friday night, we had a great team dinner at my family's house in nearby Aliso Viejo with amazing food and almost every player's parents in attendance. I believe each of us benefited from seeing our families in a relaxed setting before the games this weekend. We especially needed it at this point in the season and semester when the student-athlete life becomes more and more chaotic. As "starving college students," it never hurts to have a home-cooked meal, either. Several of my teammates' parents helped my mom cook dinner and decorate our home. Our families support one another and come together to help their Bears and we could not be more thankful.
Personally, I was surrounded by the comforts of home; spending time with my dog Grace at dinner and being on the familiar pool deck in my back yard. As much as we all enjoyed these moments and seeing our families, we did not come out of the weekend's tournament satisfied with our performance.
A hard loss to Arizona State University on Saturday afternoon prompted intense reflection about the game, and ultimately, our goals for the rest of the season. Following a thoughtful player meeting, we concluded that we need to enhance our passion and excitement for our team in order to succeed this season. We won two more games Sunday, but overall we still know we can play better and have those amazing moments for which we live and play.
We are athletes. We love to win, and we hate losing. Yes, we had a tough weekend in the pool and we have a big game this Saturday against a formidable USC team. But the great thing about Cal is, the Bear never quits and the Bear never dies.
Until next week...That's Cal polo.
February 19, 2013
Hey Bear fans,
Welcome back to the Cal Women's Water Polo blog. Normally I would update you on our approach to the previous weekend's games and what we learned from it. However, this week your Golden Bears did not have an official match, leaving us with plenty of time to train, train, and train some more.
With six days of training and no game, our competition during the week came from our own practices. On Saturday afternoon, the girls played in a training match against each other. In this match, we played how we would in a normal game. Coaches Rich Corso and Matt Flesher designed two equal teams and ran the match with clocks, timeouts, and used plays we would normally run. Each team orchestrated its own warm-up and rotated players how it felt appropriate. As competitive student-athletes, we all want to win. So naturally no one was surprised when this intense game went into overtime. In the end, one team won by a single goal, but every player gained game experience and learned from this training match.
These weeks of training without outside competition gives us a chance to focus on our team's strategy and style of play. Not having a scheduled game gave us the opportunity to try new plays, practice different defenses, and provided a much-needed mental break. The training match this week enlightened the whole team on how well we can play, and showcased our team's strengths and weaknesses.
I personally was not able to participate in the water this week of training. After receiving a concussion in a game at the Princeton Invitational, I was out of the water for the week and focused on getting better and being headache-free. Lucky for my teammates and I, we have a great training staff. Our trainer, Nakiesha Davis, worked with me and the coaches every day to make sure I stayed on top of my schoolwork while resting and recovering.
Now that the long week of intense training is complete, we can focus on our next challenge, the UCI Invitational. This tournament will be very mentally and physically demanding. Sixteen of the top teams in the country will be there putting their best effort forward, and we will be one of them. Four hard games in two days of competition is never an easy task. But I know that we are well-prepared for this coming weekend and ready to see some teams we have yet to play this season. Being a Southern California native, I also love the chance to be close to home for a few days!
Until next week...that's Cal polo.
February 11, 2013
Welcome back Cal Women's Water Polo fans,
What a weekend your Golden Bears had! Not only did we get in great game experience, defeating four teams at the Princeton Invitational, we also got to see snow! Having this trip early in our season helped us realize what it takes to adjust to a new time zone and environment with a busy schedule.
With plans of qualifying for the NCAA championships hosted by Harvard University in May, we used this trip as preparation of what it takes to play to our potential on the road. Getting a chance to get out of California was also a good change of pace. Most of our competitions are held in California.
Traveling far early in our season will help us adapt quicker to new environments later in the season, when games become more and more crucial.
Even though playing three games in one day was exhausting, everyone on the team got quality minutes in each competition. This trip allowed each one of us to showcase our strengths and fulfill her role within our team's system. We saw great play from new additions to the team, including freshman Sierra Smiley, freshman Brooke Vowell, sophomore transfer Michelle Caron, as well as junior goalie Briana Lippert. The depth of our team has made for competitive practices and well-rounded games with contributions from everyone. We benefited greatly from having four games where many girls played, but more important, I think the trip helped us become even closer and a more tightly knit team.
Although this was a "business" trip for the Bears, we took the little opportunities we had to enjoy ourselves. Junior Ashley Young was able to really "play" in the snow for the first time! In the few chances we had to be outside and break from game preparation, she and the rest of the team took full advantage of the fluffy white wonderland around us. Ashley made snow angles, threw snowballs, and made use of our new waterproof mittens. After the games Saturday night, many of my teammates, along with coaches Matt Flesher and Chris Lee, constructed and perfected a snowman in the courtyard of our hotel. We also had two delicious team dinners at restaurants recommended to us in Princeton. Even before we landed on the East Coast, sophomore goalie Savanna Smith caught our head coach Rich Corso sleeping on the plane! In my experience, it is rare that practices and games remain in your memory as great moments. Experiences like the ones we had as a team in Princeton will stay with us forever.
Looking ahead, we have no games for the next two weeks until the UCI Invitational. This means these Bears have a lot of rigorous training coming our way. But it is necessary if we want to continue to get better every day.
Until next week...that's Cal polo.
February 4, 2013
Hello again, Bear fans! I hope you enjoyed your weekend as much as we did.
As the majority of the country anticipated the opening kickoff of Super Bowl XLVII, we geared up for a weekend across the bay in Palo Alto. After a long week of training, we drove out of Bear Territory for a challenging tournament. The annual Stanford Invitational continues to be one of the best preseason tournaments for our sport. We were lucky to be placed in a tough bracket where earned two solid wins against Indiana and Hawaii, and one hard loss to UCLA. However, we continued to get better every game and placed third in the tournament beating San Jose State on Sunday afternoon.
This early-season weekend is always demanding. The tournament provided four quality games in a short time span. These competitive games highlighted our team's strengths and weaknesses and opened our eyes to how well we can play early in the 2013 season. A great thing about this weekend is that it gave a chance to really come together as a unit. Staying together in Palo Alto and having team meals together strengthens our team culture allowing us to focus on what matters most, our group. As a whole, we learned a lot about the necessity to keep our composure and work together if we want to be successful against better teams. It is great to have such depth within our team, but now we will focus on cohesion and understanding of how each player works within our system.
Staying together always helps us bond. Over the weekend I luckily roomed with freshman Pippa Saunders. Even though her Cal Water Polo career is just beginning and this is my last season, I discovered how much we have in common! We talked the entire trip; no television watching necessary in our room! It is fun to stay with girls you already have friendships with, but also to see how they grow and strengthen on these trips. We Bears stick together, after all! These team trips demonstrate that no matter what your position or year in this program, we are all here fighting with, and for, each other.
After what seemed like a cold weekend in the Bay Area, this week we head across the country to actual cold weather in Princeton, New Jersey! Now this will really be a good bonding trip. I hope we can all help each other stay warm and healthy, and see some snow!
Until next week...that's Cal Polo.
January 28, 2013
Hey there, Bear fans.
Welcome to the Cal Women's Water Polo blog! My name is Taylor Dodson and I will update you weekly on the happenings of our team - in and out of the water.
The 2013 season could not have started better for this group of Bears. But do not be fooled. Our early wins resulted from months of demanding work. An intense preseason of training is already paying off. During the fall, we had the chance to get in A LOT of conditioning and weeks filled with valuable game tactic practices. In addition, we started off 2013 with Spieker, and basically Berkeley, all to ourselves! Many meters swam, shots thrown, and plays ran occupied those cold January days. What was the light at the end of that tunnel, you ask? We improved.
Our head coach, Rich Corso, and associate head coach, Matt Flesher, stress, "getting better every day." So far, it rings true for our team. After a strong four quarters against UOP in Stockton, in which we won 14-4, we focused intently the entire next week of practices. This positive attitude and effort catapulted a strong 14-7 win against Michigan on Saturday night. The atmosphere of our home opener was probably the best I have experienced at Cal. As a senior, it felt amazing to have such strong enthusiasm from family, friends, and other Cal athletes supporting us. We love our fans!
This week we will bring back that same intensity into training before crossing the bay for the Stanford Invitational. Strong teams occupy this tournament every year and it will greatly test our skills and team chemistry at this point of the season. We will go up against some of the top players and teams in the country, but I could not feel more confident with these girls by my side.
This year's team is built with a foundation of upper classmen who know how to reach an NCAA final, with experience from our 2011 season. And what's more, talented freshman and sophomores challenge the older players every day to reach that championship again. These girls prove to be my solid rock when I need support, a shoulder to lean on when I need some help, and comic relief that entertains me every day. We cannot wait to show everyone the great team we are becoming! GO BEARS!
Until next week...