Water Polo 2016
Three years ago we started with a water polo club, two years ago we played as JV level, last year we added two varsity squads, and this year Coach Mia Mae Cummings, Coach Bruce Cecil and Coach Ana Patterson won their first official game as the JV Boys Defeated Mission San Jose 4-3!
This is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the coaches, players, and families who give their heartfelt support to the Water Polo Program! We recently sat down with Coach Mia Mae to learn more about how this exciting program began.
The first two words uttered from one’s mouth when they learn that I travel from Portland, OR to coach water polo at Moreau Catholic are “wow” and “why?”
I truly cannot answer that question. I move around the question, never really answering it because, number one, I am not crazy, and number two, I am not wealthy. But when I look at the kids in the pool, giving me their best effort, I realize that the growth of this program truly depends on the foundation that is laid. It’s a game of building blocks, you’ve got to crawl in order to learn how to walk, and then run.
I have been coaching water polo at Moreau since their induction into the Mission Valley Athletic League in 2014. Now in our third season, our program has been blessed by the enthusiasm of sport-seeking students who may not know much about water polo, but who are daring enough to at least come out and give it a chance. What I think many people may not understand about water polo is that it is one of the hardest sports to play, let alone teach to those who need to learn how to play a game in a matter of weeks.
When students sign up for the first time to learn this sport, 98% of them are truly unaware of how the game is played and what it really entails. A water polo athlete is expected to swim at a very fast pace, will need to tread water for minutes at a time, and will need to incorporate the skills from basketball, soccer, hockey, football, and wrestling all at the same time. Not to mention that while doing all of this they need to keep their head above water and are not allowed to touch the bottom of the pool throughout the entire course of the game.
That being said, it is a monumental achievement for the members of this team who have come so far in such a short amount of time. It was only a few years ago that Ms. Ana Patterson and a group of kids would wake up each morning to go play water polo at Hayward Plunge before the start of the school day. It was this group of kids that convinced Ms. Krisman to allow them to form a team which then allowed them to have practices and scrimmages. It was at this point the search for a head coach began.
Before being contacted by Christine Krisman about the coaching position at Moreau Catholic, I had spent two years at Half Moon Bay High School as the assistant water polo coach, and three years as the head coach. After five years with the team, I had decided not to return and thought that I was done with water polo. It was only a few months later that I received the message inviting me to discuss the coaching position at Moreau.
What they did not know at the time was that my husband’s company decided to relocate our family to Portland, Oregon. So I immediately thought it would be impossible for it to work out, and to just say no, thank you. But it was my husband who said, “at least go and see what it’s all about, maybe you can advise them on what to do or what they’ll need.”
So I took the chance and met with Ms. Krisman in late spring of 2014. She told me the story of the kids playing at Hayward Plunge, and how they would have the support of Father Bruce Cecil and of Ms. Patterson as assistant coaches. I knew in my mind that this would be a huge undertaking for anyone who had not coached water polo before, let alone having to teach the fundamentals of the game. I wanted to help, but that didn’t change the fact that I was still moving to Portland at the end of the school year.
So what I proposed was a two-week fundamentals summer camp for the kids who were interested, something that would at least give them some foundation to build upon while they continued the search for a coach. After the first week of the camp, while moving boxes were literally being loaded onto the moving truck, I said to my husband, “I think this is what I’m supposed to do; I think I’m supposed to help.”
I’m not sure how I eventually convinced him to let me try, just for one season, to fly between Portland and Hayward to coach, but he agreed. I was just in awe of this group of kids who had the determination to make something of what they knew very little about, and I knew I wanted to be a part of their success.
It was after that first season and at my son, Dylan’s college swim meet that my youngest son Noah said to me, “Mom, did you like coaching at Moreau?” I answered, yeah, why? He said, “Then you should do it, the kids need you.” And now here I am entering my third year as a coach that flies back home every two weeks at the end of practice on Friday and back again on Monday. Some people might see it as ‘impossible’ but I see it as ‘I’m possible’ and therefore my team is possible, and our program is possible.
As a coach, a friend, a mom and a wife, I don’t expect gratitude. I like to think I convey it. I am thankful each day my athletes show up to practice and say to me, “hi, coach”, along with either a smile on their face, a high five, knuckles, or a huge hug. If you ask any one of my athletes, and they’ll tell you respect from coach to and athlete and vice versa runs deep within our team, we’re a family.
I am grateful to Ms. Christine Krisman, Ms. Heidi Muhr, Ms. Ana Paterson, and Father Bruce Cecil for their unwavering support. These people stand with me and aid me, and they know how arduous of a journey this is. One cannot understand how these kids are really working on their inner strength, their mental game. What they are doing is truly special and is something that we should all be very proud of.
There is no looking back now, this season our program will begin our upward swing with a few victories and huge accomplishments. I hope to see a Moreau pool come to fruition, and soon, as playing in our own pool will be a great advantage. And while the journey has begun to attract supporters to our sport, we have nowhere to go, but up. We have nowhere to go, but up.