What builds success for girls water polo

By Nika Bondar

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ollowing the path to success, one must first step over countless number of failures. For girls water polo, maintaining emotional stability is important not only during the game itself, but also throughout those moments of self-doubt and frustration.

“It definitely makes the victory a lot sweeter if you’ve experienced loss before,” varsity player Sonya Bonne said. “Because then, you have a better field of reference of the whole game experience.” 

Photo by Nika Bondar

Part of the importance of a positive mentality when it comes to losses, is that it could possibly impact the whole team. 

“You gotta get along with everybody and you can’t take out your anger on them,” varsity player Jessica Matkovich said.  “You have to understand that we’re all in a place of, we want to spend more time together and that’s why we’re doing this sport after school.” 

Avoiding constructive criticism and a self-deprecating mindset is key to maintaining a balanced emotional state. The team’s combined progress is equally dependent on each member’s improvement, which can accelerate significantly from correct loss analysis.

“[We] shouldn’t lose [our] confidence, because [this] is a team sport [with] individual parts to it,” JV player Avanti Abhyankar said, “and if one of the individuals in the team thinks that they have done [poorly],they shouldn’t lose their confidence.” 

Team dynamic in any girls sports team is not built exclusively through potlucks and sleepovers. A crucial part of developing strong bonds with teammates is sharing unpleasant experiences like losing, and getting past them together. 

One of the best aspects of girls water polo teams is the unified variety of different levels of experience, goals, motivations and personalities. 

“I understand that we’ve got kids with all experiences, all skill levels, and so you have to understand that some people are more behind than others but everyone’s learning, so it’s not like anybody’s bad,” Matkovich said. “Everybody’s learning and everybody’s getting there, and you just want to help.”

Teams and communities, like that of girls water polo, provide an essential learning environment for students to face challenges, learn to stay determined throughout disappointments and experience the value of a well-deserved success. 

“The priority is just to go out there and have fun,” Matkovich said, “and make sure everyone else is having fun.”

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