BY KAYLA LOKEINSKY
The atmosphere was thick with tension when the Cooper City High School girls’ water polo team faced off against Saint Thomas Aquinas. Girls sprinted up and down the pool, thrashing through the water, struggling to keep up the fast pace of the game. The whistles from the referees, the cheering from the bleachers and the screaming from the players make it nearly impossible to hear. However, one distinct voice can be heard above all the noise, calling out instructions and directing her teammates. It’s the voice of senior Emily Aron, who, as goalie, is the driving force behind the CCHS water polo team’s success.
Aron has made a huge splash on the water polo team. When she began playing during her sophomore year, Aron had no intention of being a goalie. She had been swimming since she was 11 years old, so she utilized her speed in the field. While she didn’t get much playing time that first season, Aron continued with the sport and during her junior year she was asked to play goalie. Although this would mean more playing time for Aron, she was skeptical about the decision.
“At first I hated the thought of being a goalie,” Aron said. “I was mad at the world. Since I had swam for so long, I felt like my talent was going to waste. But, by the end of the season, I grew to love it.”
As a junior, Aron surpassed all expectations. Her lean, six foot frame allowed her to jump from one corner of the net to the other with ease. She was the eyes and ears of her team, telling them where to go, who was open, and what they were doing wrong. As the goalie, she controlled the pace of the game and was one of the main reasons behind the Cowboys’ 16-7 season last year. With 216 saves in the goal in that season, Aron helped her team make it farther in the state tournament than CCHS had in 16 years, ranking them fourth place in the state.
“Last season was great for us,” CCHS water polo coach Ross Benner said. “Emily was a big reason behind that.”
After that season, Aron earned many accolades for her athletic accomplishments. She was named an Academic All American for her achievements both in the pool and in the classroom. She also earned honors as a member of the 2nd All-County Team by both the South Florida Sun Sentinel and the Miami Herald.
“After I won all these awards, I knew that there was no turning back,” Aron said. “Being a goalie is what I was meant to do.”
After the CCHS water polo season came to an end, Aron wanted to push her goalie training even further. She joined a club water polo team, which practices year round and competes in tournaments across the country. After becoming the starting goalie for the South Florida Aquatics Hurricanes water polo team, she began training with Laura Vera, who is also the coach for the Florida Junior National Team.
“Coach Laura is the driving force behind all of my success,” Aron said.
While training with Vera in preparation for the Junior Olympics in California, Aron’s skilled improved dramatically and soon she was blocking shots and firing the ball down the pool without hesitation. Vera dedicated herself to training Aron because she saw that she could go very far in her water polo career.
“As a goalie the best way to describe Emily is that she’s a total natural,” Coach Vera said. “Physically, she has the perfect proportions, athletically she’s got great reactions, mentally she is able to handle focusing on the ball while at the same time worrying about the 12 girls in the water. She has a great ability of being able to read the plays and reacting to the ball that allows her to make some pretty spectacular blocks. She’s vocal in all the right ways and is able to lead her team without demanding it or the need of a captainship title.”
While Aron continues to be the starting goalie for the CCHS Cowboys, she is also training with an Olympic Development Program (ODP). This program gives her the opportunity to work with ex-Olympic goalie Genai Kerr and the head coaches for UC Santa Barbara and Brown University, who were all greatly impressed with her playing and outstanding potential.
“ODP is giving me the opportunity to play at a collegiate level,” Aron said. “That’s one of my biggest dreams.”
Aron is currently working on getting college water polo scholarships. While she is speaking to several schools, including the University of Maryland and Hartwick University, nothing is finalized yet. For now, Aron is focusing solely on her Cowboys and the current water polo season.
“The team is amazing this year,” Aron said. “I look forward to every game.”
While Aron continues to be a leader both for her school water polo team and for her club team as well, there is no denying that she is a force to be reckoned with. Her talent, drive, and leadership abilities are enabling her to push her teammates to their highest potential and help them to achieve a winning season.