After six seniors graduated last spring, the women’s water polo team at California Baptist University now looks to overcome the obstacles that arise with having a young team.
To prepare for the upcoming season, the Lancers plan on using their youthful teammates to their advantage by creating new strategies and viewing each game as a learning experience.
Jonathon Miller, head coach of women’s water polo, said that accommodating to players leaving is nothing new.
“Every year you have to adjust a little bit to what the strengths are of your team and this year won’t be an exception.”
In the preseason, the women have been adjusting to practicing without teammates with whom they spent most of their college career playing.
“The seniors impact you, you look up to them and when they graduate it’s like your older sister moving out of the house,” said Madison Gonzales, junior criminal justice major and 2-meter.
With the loss of the seniors, one of the biggest challenges the Lancers face is gaps in the starting lineup. Jocelyn Schwegler, senior psychology major and 2-meter, said this will help the team in the long run.
“The team doesn’t have as many key shooters and players that create more offensive opportunities,” said Schwegler. “That will definitely be a great thing for our team because it will give all of us more of an opportunity to become key shooters.”
Miller said he wants to focus more on offense for the upcoming season.
“Being more consistent on the offensive end will be an emphasis this year for sure,” Miller said. “On the offensive end we graduated three really solid outside shooters, so we’ll definitely need some of our returners to pick up that slack.”
Composed of mainly freshmen and sophomores, the team plans to use their young age to stun opponents.
“Just because a team is young doesn’t necessarily mean that we are inexperienced,” said Grace Ramirez, sophomore kinesiology major and goalkeeper. “We have the opportunity to surprise others.”
Miller said he is confident in the team’s ability to adjust.
“We have a lot of underclassmen who are excited to step up into new leadership roles and are hungry to show what they can do,” Miller said.
While there are new expectations put on the younger players, the juniors and seniors also have pressure to show more leadership than in previous seasons.
“As you progress through the years, everyone needs to step up and be a leader in some way,” said Gonzales. “I’m just going to help the team in any way it demands; I’m willing to shape to what the team needs.”
The season will begin in January; the schedule has yet to be released.