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Give water polo a shot

Water polo became one of the first team sports of the modern Olympics in 1900. Water polo, being named one of the hardest sports to master, is a challenge that a number of students take on. BYU-Idaho has intermural water polo teams available to join at any point in the season.

Vikings see an opening ahead for a shot and passes it up for a goal.
Vikings see an opening ahead for a shot and passes it up for a goal. Photo credit: Kela Munnerlyn

Danielle Stedman, the general manager, shared her experience watching the games and mentioned how the sport is physically demanding. One example of how brutal it can get was when, not too long ago, a player was repeatedly kicked underwater and suffered five fractured ribs.

Spartans tread up for a powerful blast from Vikings player number three.
Spartans tread up for a powerful blast from Vikings player number three. Photo credit: Kela Munnerlyn

“Because it’s a competitive sport, the hardest part is being able to see when someone is being too aggressive, especially when a lot of it is happening underwater,” Stedman said. “I want to give fair games, and I want to give good sportsmanship.”

Sam Gekeler, the men’s water polo coordinator, shared his unique story of how he got into the sport. He was initially a football player and had never heard nor seen water polo in action. His good friend introduced him to the leadership position as coach for the girl’s team two years ago.

Connor Van Thiel, surrounded by Spartans, takes a powerful shot at the goal
Connor Van Thiel, surrounded by Spartans, takes a powerful shot at the goal Photo credit: Kela Munnerlyn

Sam was curious as to why he would be qualified to coach a water polo team as only a qualified football player. The ability to communicate and see patterns is key to success in the game.

“If a landlocked sports player like me can pick it up, anyone can,” Gekeler said. “It’s not rocket science.”

Vikings circle up for a huddle before hopping back in the water.
Vikings circle up for a huddle before hopping back in the water. Photo credit: Kela Munnerlyn

Sam urged any curious athletes who are remotely competitive with a growth mindset to come and take a shot.

Practices are twice a week, one hour each. Open water polo happens from 9 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Students are allowed to come at any point in the season to try it out on Wednesday nights.

Vikings swim to the other side and set up before beginning their attack.
Vikings swim to the other side and set up before beginning their attack. Photo credit: Kela Munnerlyn
Vikings arms go up for defense against the Spartans.
Vikings arms go up for defense against the Spartans. Photo credit: Kela Munnerlyn

To join campus water polo, visit the BYU-I Campus Recreation website

Sparttans use their left-handed player for a quick goal.
Spartans use their left-handed player for a quick goal. Photo credit: Kela Munnerlyn
Intense defensive blocking before Vikings pass the ball for a quick shot.
Intense defensive blocking before Vikings pass the ball for a quick shot. Photo credit: Kela Munnerlyn

Goalie Jake Zalesny throws his arms up for a block.
Goalie Jake Zalesny throws his arms up for a block. Photo credit: Kela Munnerlyn

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