‘The desire to get better’: the secret behind water polo goal-tending


Photo by Emily Chung

Junior Quentin Belitto is one of two goalies this year on the boys water polo team. He and fellow goalie, junior David Andreasyan, practice leg strength training to “propel” them forward.

By Emily Chung

As Coach Sam Hyrne whistles, the boys water polo team begins their scrimmage. While field players work on passing and scoring during practice, goalies follow a different procedure.

The majority of players on the varsity team are seniors who have been playing for a long time. 

“This is the most dedicated group of kids I’ve had,” Hyrne said. “They’re all here to play water polo, because they like [the sport].”

This season, the goalies stand out among a sea of seniors, being the younger members of the team.

Junior David Andreasyan, previous goalie for the JV team and current goalie for varsity, said he feels the difference between JV and varsity. It is a whole new style to master, he said.

“[Field players] are trying to get faster and work on plays while we are trying to block a ball and have stamina,” junior Quentin Belitto, the other goalie, said.

Although it seems like their only objective is to block the goal, there are a lot of components goalies must pay attention to in order to maximize efficiency.

“[Goalies] have to have [leg] endurance and need to be able to get out and stay out of the water,” Hyrne said. “They need to be mobile and flexible, and be able to travel great distances at quick speed while they’re in the cage.”

Coach Hyrne said her focuses mostly on strengthening their legs.

“They need to know how to move their legs laterally and still maintain balance, but also [while] still being [in] a ready position,” Hyrne said. “They need to know when they can come out and steal the ball, and when they need to come back.”

 Andreasyan said that a big part of being a goalie is the ability to stay alert for long periods of time above the water. 

“Improving my reaction times and being able to get to the ball definitely helps me get better as a goalie,” Andreasyan said. 

Hyrne also said he wants the goalies to know what to expect from the field players, so they will be better able to block productively. 

“We train [goalies] in drills with the field players, [because] we want them to listen to what the field players say,” Hyrne said, “because that’s what the other team’s players are [also] going to be doing.”

Although many of the field players tease the goalies about their position, they said they appreciate what they do to help contribute to the team winning games. 

“Goalies are the backbones of our team,” senior and Varsity captain Archer Sauer said.

Goalies are the only players blocking the ball, so there is a lot of pressure when the game is close in score, senior Kyle Wynne said.

“If even a shot is taken, it’s still the defense’s fault, because if they [had] played well, the [opposing team wouldn’t have been] able to get shooting opportunities,” Wynne said. “The goalie is the last line of defense.”

The goalies are always putting in effort to succeed, which is something Hyrne said he notices. 

“The biggest strength for both of [the goalies] is that they want to play,” Hyrne said. “They want to be the guy that wins the game. The biggest strength any player can have is the desire to get better, and both my boys have that.”