Girl’s Water Polo: Team finds strength in its ranks
SportsSwimming, Diving & Water Polo September 5, 2010 Admin
BY AFTON HICKS
A true leader is marked by the perseverance and dedication they display in times of trouble. For the Cooper City High school’s Girls Water Polo team, the difficulty came when they were left without a coach, and the threat that the team would not survive another season. However, from the ashes rose sophomore Serena Benner, a talented player who would aid in bringing the team together and make sure they continued to be a valuable part of CCHS’s athletic program.
Benner began playing water polo her freshmen year of high school, when a few girls from the swim team convinced her to go out for the team. She was drawn in by the natural competitiveness of the game and the tough qualities a skilled player must posses. As tough as it is though, Benner has developed lasting friendships with her teammates and enjoys the close relationship all of the girls on the team have. She finds true pride, however, when they bring home a win.
“I love the whole game, and playing with all my friends,” Benner said. “But, the best part is winning.”
Water polo is a tough game and as a player, Benner had to develop specific skills in order to be successful. Played with one goalie and six field players on each team, the game involves passing the ball between players and trying to score goals while simultaneously being defended by their opponents. This requires extreme swimming skills and a lot of strength. Benner works hard to maintain the qualities that set her ahead of the other athletes she comes into contact with. Aside from strength, mental capacity is a quality that comes into play. Players must be able to think about their next move among all of the chaos and maintain a calm and collected manner throughout the whole game.
“You have to have a lot of body strength, ” Benner said. “It takes a lot of mental ability and you have to be really good at swimming and handling the ball.”
Water polo develops young athletes into determined, strong people of society. So, when the threat of not having a team this year became serious, Benner took action. The main difficulty was the absence of a coach and a lack of interested players. With out a coach, the team would not be able to remain a part of CCHS athletics. So, desperate for a coach, Benner took it upon herself to ask her dad if he would volunteer. While the situation might prove odd for some athletes, Benner believes it has been an agent in helping her to open up about improvements to the team and ways to make the practices as beneficial as possible.
“With my dad as the coach I act a lot differently towards him then I normally would,” Benner said. “I’m a lot more open about things and when I have a suggestion I’m not afraid to say it.”
Aside from the coach, another threat to the team was the lack of players interested. It took a lot of recruiting to put together a team. Benner’s determination however, gave her the power to pull it together and recruit from the swim team as well as other interested girls around school.
“We had to get people to be on the team because we didn’t have enough players,” Benner said. “Without asking people to be on the team we wouldn’t have had enough to play. So, it took a lot of recruiting. ”
Being a young captain brings about a lot of pressures, but Benner doesn’t let it get to her head, always providing a beacon of strength and support for the rest of her team, and they have taken notice. Looking up to her as a leader, they admire the perseverance she has set forth to make sure the team is the best that they can be.
“She has really good leadership skills,” freshman and teammate Kelly Chmura said. “She keeps everyone in order and knows how to play the game really well.”
At times, she does feel the pressure. She has done so much to make sure this program stays together. By always proving to be a role model for her teammates she keeps them in order without the power crazy policies that some high school Captains adopt.
“There’s a lot of pressure (being captain,” Benner said. “The rest of the girls look up to you and you have to be a role model to them.”
Benner has big goals in mind over the next few years, including building up the team to make them as successful as possible including making it to states. With her vigor, Benner will be sure to prove there is no challenge she can’t meet. With perseverance and the strong support of her team, Serena Benner is sure to prove her talent as she continues leading the water polo team to success. Future students have her to thank for the continuation of such a vital and thrilling sport.