Boys’ Water Polo, along with a majority of Irvington’s fall season sports, has been postponed as late as October, with the earliest games starting in December. Yet even with less preparation time, the team is ready to tackle competitive training in the midst of COVID-19 and maintains its determination for the upcoming season.
“Our goal is to win League,” said Coach Christopher Chan, who will be coaching the Boys’ Water Polo team for the second year in a row. “For the boys team in general, I had no seniors. My plan, if everybody returns, is to have the same team.”
If Chan is able to return his entire roster, he could be working with the same group of players who have already had a year’s worth of experience in the water together. This is a significant advantage for Irvington because they can focus more on adapted training to COVID-19 restrictions without having to worry about determining team roles for new players. According to Captain Erbin Abarado (12), many other high schools in the League experienced senior turnovers, which would add further difficulty along with the already limiting training restrictions.
“It’s gonna be hard this season if they don’t lessen the strictness of the rules,” said Abarado. “We won’t be able to properly draw or practice plays or get more game experience and knowledge.”
To adhere to gathering guidelines, teams can only physically meet in “pods” of 15 players, although coaches are allowed to move between pods. Shared equipment must be sanitized regularly because water polo is a heavy contact sport. And even as pools begin to open, the pod restriction means the League schools must work around scheduling conflicts so all teams get equal access to the water.
“If we can use the pool, we’ll rotate through the pods,” said Chan. “Each pod will have one day in the pool where we’ll do swim sets and leg exercises in the pool. On dry land, if possible we would use the weight room. If the kids have resistance bands or weights at home, then they can bring that. If not, we’ll focus on body-weight workouts, running, something to get that heart rate up.”
Chan and Abarado both hope that the season will go on as planned. Abarado noted that currently, COVID-19 is not the only obstacle they face; bad air quality can also affect training and games. As of now, however, the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF), the governing body for high school sports in the state, is moving forward with their plan.
“Nothing really surprises us anymore,” said Abarado. “But I’m feeling confident that a lot of people are going to come back. You’ve been deprived of this whole after school activity, and people are really eager to have as much fun as they can instead of staying at home. I feel like we have a great shot.”