Water polo looks to continue tradition of success

Henry Newhall ’24 in last year’s early contest against Mt. St. Joseph’s – Ms. Deb Putter

The water polo team is no stranger to success. In 2022, they finished 19-3, and they seek an improved end-of-season record this season.

The team is also eyeing some big titles. 

“The expectation that we have set for ourselves is to win the Inter Ac. As Inter-Ac champs five years in a row, we see this as our standard,” Sixth Former Luke Putter said. “Our main goal for the season is to bring home an Easterns Championship. We have been runner-ups at the tournament the last two years, so our main priority for this season is to finally make that championship a reality.”

Fifth Former Zach Dixon said, “While team goals are vital, more notably each player on our team has their own personal goals.” 

From technical skills to attitude in the pool, individual improvements support the team’s development. Personal objectives aside, physicality is a team value that each player is expected to uphold. 

“Preseason always starts with two weeks of four-hour long practices that consist of three hours of pool time and one hour of dryland,” Fifth Former Henry Pennington said. “Earlier in the summer, we emphasize conditioning so that we have no trouble physically during games.”

Dixon added, “Our coaching staff made it quite clear that each player should take time to get/stay in shape throughout the summer leading up to preseason.” 

Although the team is always looking to improve, and preseason does involve some basic skills training, the team is advantaged by its players’ years of experience.

“Coach Kevin Van Such has encouraged many of us at a young age to try the sport and has been a crucial factor in developing us as athletes,” Pennington said. “Haverford has a culture of athletes who are committed to staying in shape, and we have a lot of amazing swimmers at our school too who also get involved with the team.”

“As a team, we are practically family. Support is big on our team. We make sure we hold each other accountable.”

Zach Dixon ’25

Because of the many hours that the group has put in together throughout the years, they have formed close bonds. 

“As a team, we are practically family,” Dixon said. “Support is big on our team. We make sure we hold each other accountable.”

Beyond accountability, the team’s culture also creates unique bonds. 

“I would say that the water polo team has some of the greatest chemistry that I’ve seen,” Putter said. “If you look at our six starters, we have all been playing together for a minimum of seven years. Experience together like that creates a connection that is tough to match up against.”

“Our depth is a strength, and their trust in each other strengthens that.”

Coach Kevin Van Such

The team’s culture also allows for strength through adversity. 

“We are brothers in and out of the pool and because of that, we are able to stick together as a team even in our toughest moments, and that philosophy has contributed to our success year after year,” Pennington said.

Coach Van Such also emphasized the importance of the team’s supportive nature and “we not me” mentality. “The athletes understand the importance of team play,” he said. “Our depth is a strength, and their trust in each other strengthens that.”

With a respected coaching staff, the team finds itself with a consistently strong player pool. 

“When looking at a couple of years of success, you can maybe attribute that to a few players, but when you extend that time period longer and longer the success can only be attributed to the coaching staff,” Putter said. “Players come and go every year, but the coaching staff is what remains constant.”

With players stepping up to fill the spaces left by graduates, the team is ready to continue its tradition of success. 

“We all just got back together and are getting ready to step into the shoes of big players like Bram Schork [’22] and Luka Sekulic [’23] who have had big roles in the previous years for the team,” Pennington said.

The new squad has already proved its dominance: they recorded a 20-3 win over Landon School on August 24 to open their fall season.

Author: Ian Rosenzweig '25

Ian Rosenzweig currently serves as Academics Editor and writer. He has also served as the editing director for The Foreign Policy Youth Collaborative, a youth nonprofit organization, for whom he has written content regarding international and domestic policy. His poem "Faithful Return" won the 2022 Berniece L. Fox Classics Writing Contest. In February 2023, three of his articles earned honorable mention recognition from the Philadelphia-area Scholastic Writing Awards.