By Erin Hambidge, Print Opinion Editor
// Current water polo players, returning alumni, and coaches gathered on Aug. 14 to celebrate the Acalanes High School water polo program in an alumni match.
The game was part of an annual tradition that began seven years ago to recognize the history of the program and honor the tight-knit community responsible for a long history of success.
“For me, it’s just wonderful to see so many of my former players that are now successful in their lives… all come back, and the fact that they’re all still connected to each other because of their experiences that they had playing on the team, for me, just brings me a lot of joy,” women’s water polo coach and math teacher Misha Buchel said.
For current players at Acalanes, the game was a chance to interact with older alumni who once stood in their shoes.
“It was really exciting because a lot of them are really successful in water polo—they play in college—so it was cool to get to know them and see how important Acalanes water polo was to them,” varsity water polo player and junior Sarah McCarthy said.
Many alumni are still actively involved in the program and make an effort to support the current players in any way they can.
“They are always reaching out and showing up to practice and willing to help us with anything that we need,” McCarthy said.
Several players noted the sport helped connect them to their teammates and foster a family.
“I think [Acalanes water polo] is like a little community because we all have the same inside jokes, and because water polo is such a unique sport if you play it, you’re automatically tied to a whole group of unique people,” varsity water polo player and junior Maizie O’Hare said.
The alumni game is a reflection of the larger culture water polo coaches attempt to build each season.
“When we meet with our new team on the first day of practice on August 9 or 10, what we as coaches say to the girls is ‘our mission is to try to make this be the most special thing that you are a part of in your lives’,” Buchel said.
Many players attribute their team’s victories to this philosophy because it creates an environment where every player strives to work harder for their team.
“Once you start to get to know the people on the team, you get to know not just who they are but how they play… I think it’s all about trust and building a good foundation with everyone on the team,” O’Hare said.
Above all, the alumni game is a reminder of the program coaches and players have built over the course of Acalanes water polo’s history.
“The alumni game is a celebration of culture and we’re hoping to promote that for the players that are here as students now,” Buchel said.