EAST LANSING - As many may have followed in Tokyo over the past few weeks, there are a number of sports around the world that aren’t so common. For example, swimming pools aren’t just for swimming.
Meet Water Polo.
Played in a pool that is usually between 20 and 30 meters long and 10-20 meters wide, the game consists of six ‘infield’ players and a goalie, who tread water, swim and pass the ball and try to throw it into a net that is around 3 feet high and 10 feet wide to score goals over 4 8-10 minute quarters. The game is known for its physicality and endurance required to tread and move around in the water for such a long time.
Water Polo is popular at the high-school level in the area, with both East Lansing and Okemos High Schools fielding teams, and has both middle and high-school level club teams.
The Raptor Water Polo Club, comprised of local high schoolers, gives players a way to stay sharp before and after their high school seasons, which take place in the spring. The Raptor club was unable to play their usual competition schedule this summer due to the pandemic, but is still able to hold nightly practice sessions for players.
Raptor player and rising senior at East Lansing High School Ava Meeker told us about her love for the game: “It’s so much fun, it’s a great atmosphere here, I love all of my coaches, all my teammates, we have so much fun. I’ve been playing since 7th grade...and it’s just my favorite sport. I played gymnastics before this, and this has been the best for me.”
Raptor Coach Madelyn Zink described the sport as a combination of a number of different games: “I describe it as soccer in the water, with a basketball setup, with soccer goals, while you’re swimming around. It’s a little bit of hockey aggressiveness...whatever you want it to be, it can be.”
More information can be found on the Raptor Water Polo Club Facebook page.