Come rain or shine, the women’s water polo team will be gearing up for another season in the pool.
The Leopards will start their 2009 season this weekend, competing in the Chapman Tournament. First year head coach Alex La hopes the tournament sets the tone for the rest of the season.
“I really want to get them set for this program,” La said. “Since a lot of our girls are new and young, it’s about hammering the fundamentals.”
Last year, La Verne ended the season with a win against Whittier in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament. Under former coach Tim Hugar the team ended the season 7-16 overall, and finished seventh in SCIAC with a 1-8 record.
Returning to the team this year is senior goalie Lindsay Jones, who has been in the program since her freshman year.
“She’s the one that usually works the hardest,” La said. “She’s always the first one in the pool and the last one to leave.”
Jones hopes to end her Leopards career on a high note.
“We want to do well in conference,” Jones said. “We just want to run what we’ve been working on in practice.”
Also returning this season are junior attacker Cindel de los Reyes, junior utility Melinda Fairman and sophomore attacker Tiffany Martin .
The Leopards will be challenged this season, however, by their youth. La Verne will be debuting four new players to the program.
“We’re a really young team,” La said. “The team’s really small too.”
Leading the new players is freshman attacker Diane Aguayo.
“She is going to be strong for us,” La said.
Having a small team will be a thorn in the Leopards side this season. With only nine players, the Leopards will have a hard time with their rotation and stamina.
“There won’t be a resting plan; we’ve got to be back and forth on the court,” Aguayo said. “Having a small team is a challenge, but I think if we just play together, we’ll be all right.”
Despite their inexperience and lack of depth, the Leopards are determined to complete their goals this season.
“Our team goal is to get as far as we can with the little that we have,” Aguayo said. “Even though we’re a small team, I think we will just work with what we got and play hard the whole game.”
“We’re going to struggle because we’re a small team, a young team,” La said. “But our goal this year is to play a fundamentally sound water polo game.”
Jonathan Smith can be reached at email@example.com.