The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Club water polo fosters welcoming culture

Photo by Mikey Severson
Club water polo practices in the Straz Tower Rec Plex pool.

The overhead lights run parallel to the blue and yellow lane lines, gold and white flags hang 10 feet in the air and a steady heat flows throughout the entire area.

All of a sudden, Marquette’s club water polo team bursts through the door and jumps in the pool to start practice.

It is a recurring Thursday night scene. From 8:30-9:45 p.m. on Thursdays, the club holds practice inside the Rec Plex amidst construction to the Helfaer Recreation Center, which is scheduled to re-open in 2025.

The no-cut club welcomes members of all skill levels and abilities. Vice president Juliana Russo, a first-year student in the College of Business Administration, has been playing water polo since she was nine years old, and she discovered the sport initially through youth swimming, as her friends from swimming also did water polo. She followed suit and likes the fact that water polo is fun and different from the swim team. 

“We have group messaging chats for the e-board and general group, and through those, people are like ‘Yes, I’m excited’ (to come to practice), I think that’s a positive start,” Russo said. 

Jake Van Lanen, a first-year in the College of Education, has been swimming since he was 18 months old, and when he heard about Marquette club water polo, it got his attention immediately. 

 “It was something that I wasn’t able to try before that I’ve been interested in doing,” Van Lanen said. 

The club practices all together, and e-board members assist players who are newer to the game with fundamental techniques, and drills coordinated by ability level. Roughly 15-20 members are part of the club.

“The way you tread water in water polo is a lot different than regular swim strokes,” Bert Wirtz Jr., a first-year student in the College of Engineering, said. “It’s like learning a new skill. Even though it shares stuff with swimming, it allows me to try something new.” 

Club co-president Annie Hunter, a sophomore in the College of Business Administration, stated that getting and keeping new members is one of the club’s top priorities this season.

“We’re making sure that we have a practice plan, we’re listening to everyone on the club, how they’re feeling, making a real community around water polo and are able to grow as water polo players,” Hunter said. “A lot of our players, they haven’t played before, so it’s a learning experience for them, and we want to make sure it’s a fun experience for everybody.”

Sam Voronenko, a first-year in the College of Health Sciences, serves as the other co-president and said fostering the club’s culture is essential to lay the foundation so it can grow. 

“As a new, fresh executive board, we would really want everyone to come together like a family,” Voronenko said. “That’s what I feel like is the main goal, get to know everyone.

“Going into college, it’s hard meeting new people. All it takes is just a ‘Hi.’ Having social meetups for instance, right after practice going to a dining hall, eating and having a good time, connecting in a way.”

Voronenko feels that the social side of the sport is integral as well to the club’s development.

“Some types of social events help bring us in and grow as a community. It’s important for everyone to know each other and for the club to have a tight bond,” Voronenko said.

The club plans to compete against other club water polo teams, with the opponents yet to be determined for next school year.

“We’re focused on getting a really good base started,” club treasurer Emma Kaftan, junior in the College of Arts & Sciences, said. “We’re talking about having more formal elections. The club will continue to grow as we get older, (and) underclassmen will join as it progresses.” 

This article was written by Mikey Severson. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter/X @MikeySeversonMU.

Story continues below advertisement
Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Mikey Severson
Mikey Severson, Sports Reporter
Mikey Severson is a first year from Saint Charles, Illinois studying journalism and minoring in sports management. He is a Sports Reporter for the Marquette Wire for the 2023-24 school year. At St. Charles East High School, he played football, tennis and managed the boys' basketball team. Outside of the Wire, he enjoys professional football, playing tennis, trying new foods and meeting new people. He is excited to cover Marquette athletics, go to games and interview players & coaches post-game.

Comments (0)

All Marquette Wire Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *