As the clock strikes 4 p.m., the pool in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Klotsche Center is transformed from lap pool to water polo pool by a group of swimsuit-clad coed students, while the greatest hits of the 80’s echoes faintly in the background.
The water polo team is the newest club sport at UW-Milwaukee but is growing fast. Male and female students can now join the physically demanding sport that can best be described as water soccer but with a lot more hands and contact.
Despite being new, the water polo team has already had success.
“We’ve already beaten our biggest rival Marquette,” said captain of the team Scott DePuy. “Once people realize we can be good; I think we’ll get even bigger.”
The leaders of the team are optimistic about the club’s future. In the few games the team have played, the team has been successful. The win over Marquette, who is a power in the water polo system, shows the young team’s potential.
Athletics at UWM are not as heralded as at Big Ten powers such as Madison and Minnesota, but they are special to the student athletes who compete in them. The water polo team is no different.
Being a student-athlete also comes with many difficulties. Lack of time to do classwork or a job as well as the physical exhaustion that comes with playing a sport. Time management is a struggle for nearly all students, and the added pressures of playing a sport does not help.
Despite these challenges, determined and hard-working student-athletes are finding ways to succeed both in the classroom and in their sport.
Captain, founder and president of the club team Scott DePuy leads the team both in the pool and out. DePuy started the team in October, with the help of former high school rival turned vice president Brian Calabrese. DePuy attended Neuqua Valley High School and Calbrese Naperville Central High School . The two teams played each other, and these competitions are where the early plans for the team at UW-Milwaukee were first started.
DePuy and Calbrese stress the importance of academics to the other players. Balancing schoolwork and practice is difficult, which is why DePuy makes sure his players know that school is always the priority even if it means missing practice every once and a while.
The student-athletes’ love for their sport is very clear if you watch the water polo team for even a few minutes. The team is constantly talking and joking, all while continuously treading water in a 14-foot-deep pool. Out of the pool is no different. The team makes a point to socialize and build camaraderie whenever possible.
“The best teams feel like family,” said DePuy.
The family has plenty of time together as they road trip around the Midwest to play tournaments. These trips allowed for the team to meet other water polo teams that were helpful and excited for another school to join the water polo ranks. Some schools even donated equipment to the team, showing the water polo community.
DePuy and Calabrese, both journalism students at UW-Milwaukee, first had the idea to form a water polo team before they came to the school. Both were highly successful water polo players on their high school and club teams, and wanted to bring the sport they loved to their new school. Starting a sports club at is a paperwork filled process, and one that takes a driven individual to complete. DePuy and Calabrese were the two to start the club, which is why they are so proud to be student-athletes.
“We’ve been a part of the water polo team since the beginning, said Calabrese “that’s the best part.”
The beginning of the club meant many hours filling out paperwork and sitting at a table recruiting players for DePuy and Calabrese. DePuy said UW-Milwaukee was helpful in the forming of the club, but the majority of the work and responsibility was placed on he and the other officer’s shoulders. Cabrese and DePuy recruited all 15 players on the team.
The team is completely student run and coached. DePuy coached youth water polo in his hometown of Naperville, Illinois, and thus has become the team’s unofficial coach. He and the other officers are responsible for planning, scheduling and traveling to matches
The water polo’s next tournament is at Iowa State from April 8-9.