It was announced back in the Fall of 2019 that water polo would be the next UILrecognized sport. It's the first sport to be added since 1998 when the UIL approved wrestling.
Let's just say that Baytown Sterling is ahead of its time, having fielded a team for decades at the club level.
"It starts with swimming early on with our kids. You have to have tremendous mental strength to be a swimmer and it's tough," coach Michael Fanning said. "Once they develop their love of swimming, we introduce polo. Water polo is like swimming but way more fun. They just explode when they get into the pool and start learning the sport."
Fanning has coached the sport for seven seasons and has reached the Regional Tournament every year.
"Our goal is to get back to Regions and just go deeper in the tournament this season," he said.
Leading the way for the boys' team are Christian Hofstetter (Attacker), Ryan Pickens (Point), Andre Dizon (Wing) and Nathan Eitel (Attacker). For the girls, it's Charlotte Newport (Center), Hannah Wood (Defensive Center), Hannah Bailey (Goalie) and Sara Hilyard (Wing).
"Our teams have some strategy with what they are trying to do on offense and how to react on defense," Fanning said. "Our strength is our smarts in the pool. We know what to do and when to do it. We just have to get them pumped up and a little stronger and faster in the pool.
"It takes a lot of endurance to play this sport."
Well, Baytown Sterling has a head start of most programs entering the sports first season in 2021.
The coach, team, family and friends supporting Oak Ridge all thought they had a high chance of taking home the victory. The Woodlands brought a powerful fight to the waterpolo game on Wednesday that Oak Ridge didn't see coming.
Oak Ridge was playing strong at the beginning of the game, but the Woodlands rose to the top and won with a final score of 10-8.
I was able to talk to the goalie herself, Rebecca Jefferson, to learn more about the Oak Ridge waterpolo team.
"As a goalie, I'm the prime communicator for my team in order to help them," Jefferson said.
Jefferson was also a part of the swim team at Oak Ridge.
"Waterpolo is different from swim because it is more of a team sport and you have to work together to succeed," she said.
The team has a whole routine before every game that Rebecca shared with me.
"Before every game we do a warm-up as a team and then we do a cheer to get everyone hyped up," Jefferson said, "We then have a prayer, and finish our pregame ritual with a pep talk from our coach."
The girls have until March 18th to prepare for the game against Tomball.
"To better ourselves for the next game we have to practice harder by doing more sprints during conditioning, taking shots in higher corners and we're really working on not being nervous when we are in possession of the ball," Jefferson said.