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est. 1930

The Wildcat

est. 1930

The Wildcat

est. 1930

The Wildcat

Benitez to Focus on Fundamentals With Young Varsity Water Polo Squad

Jacob An
Peyton Crosta, freshman, prepares to pass during a varsity water polo practice on Nov. 14. The young squad is in rebuilding mode after losing all but one player from last year’s team to graduation.

With only one returning letter-winner, an unprecedented number of freshmen, and a new head coach, girls’ varsity water polo will dive into the new season in rebuilding mode. 

Last season’s squad, who won a North Hills league championship and made a first-round appearance in CIF playoffs, was a veteran one: all seniors except for one junior and one freshman — Rylee Szary — the program’s lone returning letter-winner. Filling the roster this year are eight freshmen, two sophomores, and two juniors.

“Last year was very different because all the girls were experienced, so we were training at a higher caliber; whereas this year we are learning the basics so all the newcomers can have a better understanding of the game,” Szary, who scored nine goals last year, said.

Because of the influx of novice players — most of this year’s roster has little water polo experience — practices focus on fundamentals.

“Since the majority of the team is inexperienced, the main goal of this season is to develop all the players,” Daniel Benitez, head coach, said. “When dealing with rookies, it’s important to be patient and understand what stage they are at.”

Although Benitez, 19, is new to the Wildcats’ water polo program, he’s not new to the sport. After a standout career at Paramount High School, Benitez continued playing at Cerritos College, which is currently competing in the California Community College Athletic Association state championships.

 “It has always been a dream of mine to coach a new team and build them into something great, and I don’t think I could’ve found a better team to coach,” Benitez said.

The Wildcats have a tough schedule ahead with games against defending CIF champion Foothill (27-5 last season), Canyon (23-9), and Yorba Linda (18-10).

“The Foothill game will be a learning experience for the younger girls because they are a very dominant team,” Szary said. “[But] even though we are going to have tough games, I want [my teammates] to enjoy the sport and not worry about the losses.”

Although some of the athletes are apprehensive about competing against more veteran teams, they’re committed to learning the sport and building a foundation for the program.

“Even with the lack of experience, I see lots of potential in the team; in a couple years, we will be hard to beat,” Kelly Lin, freshmen, said. 

The new-look Wildcats open their season on Nov. 30 against local rival Troy High School. Game time is at 3:15 p.m. at the BOHS pool.

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About the Contributors
Siena Codekas
Siena Codekas, Sports Editor
Jacob An
Jacob An, Photographer
Jacob got his first camera last December, and has been developing his photography skills by capturing the beauty of everyday things through landscape and portrait shots. His hobbies include flying airplanes, Muy Thai kickboxing, playing the bass guitar, and scripting games.
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  • ToriNov 20, 2023 at 7:41 pm

    The optimistic tone the writer used carried exciting energy throughout the article, I’m looking forward to hearing how the season turns out for the new team!

  • Mallory SpeakmanNov 20, 2023 at 1:57 pm

    Great vernacular throughout this article! The author really paints the picture of how fresh this team is and how the new coach plans to develop them. Good luck girl’s water polo!

  • BrittanyNov 16, 2023 at 8:42 pm

    Good luck to the new team!