Koby Degenhardt, anchor in goal

Koby Degenhardt blocks another shot – photo courtesy of Koby Degenhardt ’20

An eager but self-proclaimed “slow swimmer” took his place in the net for the first time two years ago. With only a year of water polo experience, his lack of success in the field directed him to the new position in goal. But the athlete—ardent and highly motivated—quickly adjusted to his role, wasting no time developing into a dominant force.

     This weekend, Sixth Form captain Koby Degenhardt will defend the net against Episcopal Academy, hoping to capture a victory and culminate a historic season. 

     Degenhardt, who started playing water polo as a Third Former, has demonstrated an aptitude for the sport, transferring to goalie in his second season and eventually working his way toward a starting role.

     “My transition to goalie was pretty smooth,” Degenhardt said. “I never really liked the swimming aspect—that was the worst part of the sport for me. Playing goalie was much more fun, and I was better at it.”

     While some might collapse under the mental pressures of the goal, Degenhardt sees his position differently.

“I think I have the easiest job.”

Koby Degenhardt ’20

     “All I have to do is put myself in between the ball and the net. Everyone else has to coordinate, pass, swim, and run offensive drives,” Degenhardt said. “I think I have the easiest job.”

     Degenhardt’s calm mindset has allowed him to embrace his position this season, following in the footsteps of former goalies Jason Chen ’19 and Nicholas Biddle ’19. Degenhardt believes the former team leaders strongly influenced his water polo journey.

Koby Degenhardt ’20 in command of the goal in a 15-6 win over Penn Charter, September 24, 2019 – Mr. Jim Roese

     Degenhardt said, “Biddle was a really great mentor for me. When he was a senior, he helped me learn about the important aspects of being a goalie. He was a good teacher and always really supportive.”

     The tradition of a supportive team culture has prevailed this season. Although the team has enjoyed a number of lopsided victories, the locker-room atmosphere has remained balanced.

     “We have a ‘work hard, play hard’ kind of mindset. We grind during practices and drills, but we also know how to have fun and joke around with each other,” Degenhardt said. “It’s a super supportive environment.”

     This team culture and unparalleled talent pool has propelled the team to an incredible record with only one loss. Degenhardt explained that one of the team’s most difficult challenges came against a strong Cumberland Valley offense.

     “We played them in the Beast of the East tournament. Our best player got ejected at the beginning of the second half and we were down 9-5 in the fourth quarter, but we managed to come back and win in double overtime,” Degenhardt said.

     This weekend, Degenhardt hopes the Fords can maintain their composure and rely on the same qualities that have allotted for their dominance throughout the season.

“No one is trying to be the star of the show. Everyone can handle the ball and play. We have trust for one another.”

Koby Degenhardt ’20

     “We have super talented players and a great coaching staff,” Degenhardt said, “but no one is trying to be the star of the show. Everyone can handle the ball and play. We have trust for one another.”

Author: Mitav Nayak '22

Mitav Nayak has contributed to The Index since 2018. He currently serves as Editor-in-Chief. Mitav won the fall 2019 Pennsylvania School Press Association (PSPA) Philadelphia-area Student Journalism Competition for Newspaper Sports Story Writing and was to compete for the state title in the spring of 2020 (canceled due to COVID).