On May 10th, Kaiser’s Lady Cougar Water Polo team was excited to have in-person practice for the first time this school year. Luckily, their practices have not been too altered by the pandemic. “The only difference is we wear masks and try to distance while doing dryland and out-of-water workouts,” sophomore Jaime Farah said. Since starting up again, the girls have met every weekday to exhibit their skills individually honed over the past year.
Before the team returned to the pool, senior Jazaniah Bambao tried to continue her connection with her fellow teammates. “Almost every day, some of my teammates and I went on FaceTime and did some workouts,” Bambao said. “We also stayed motivated by borrowing some equipment from our coach and using it to work out at home.”
The players felt returning to practices came with challenges. Since last year’s season only had two games, some of the newer players were less experienced and had to work harder to build up their skills. “Although we lost time to gain experience and knowledge, everyone has been trying their hardest to make up for the time that we lost,” Bambao said.
Though practices are nearly the same as they were pre-pandemic, COVID-19 did cause the team to lose out in other areas. “We typically have team bonding activities such as going out to a restaurant, karaoke, or even fixing things around the pool. However, due to COVID, we are not able to have any events involving all 21 players,” Bambao said. Despite missed opportunities, “[Water polo]’s equally as fun this year as it was last year, as we are all dedicated to practicing and developing our skills together,” Farah said.
Pandemic restrictions have taught players such as Farah to “not take practices for granted,” she said. Even without games, the team is grateful for the friendships they were able to make while overcoming the obstacles of their situation. Unfortunately, no meets or games have been scheduled for the remainder of the season, but the team will continue to practice and keep up their Cougar spirit. “I hope next year everyone will come back with the motivation of keeping our OIA Girls’ Water Polo title for the 3rd year in a row,” Bambao said.