Regals Water Polo remains resolute amidst coaching staff suspension

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Photo by Marcel Hurtubise - Reporter

The Regals will look to continue the success of the Cal Lutheran water polo program this season following the Kingsmen’s historic 2022 season.

Marcel Hurtubise and Yousef Manna

Determined to surpass last season’s end in the semifinals of the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament, California Lutheran University’s Regals water polo is prepared to tackle this year’s conference despite losing their entire coaching staff earlier in the pre-season.

According to Associate Vice President of Marketing and Communication Mark A. Berry and CLU Sports, Associate Athletic Director Brianne Talboom will manage the Regals water polo team.

With the water polo coaching staff getting suspended only a few weeks out from the Regals’ first game, they needed to train and come up with game plans and lineups by themselves. 

“I went to UC San Diego last weekend to film both teams we’re playing, CSUN and Concordia, so I filmed that and we kinda broke it down as a team,” junior goalkeeper Izzy De Souza said. “And from there we kinda figured out, like, what we had to work on, defensively, offensively. Just scouting like that.”

Swim and Dive Coach Jennifer Vreeke has stepped in to assist as a temporary interim coach for the Regals, which De Souza said has been a help to the program as it has brought more order and leadership to the team. 

“My main concern was making sure that these athletes were back in the water playing the sport that they’re gonna play,” Vreeke said.

Though Vreeke said that she is limited by her being the diving coach, she wanted to help the women’s water polo team as much as she could.

De Souza said that the team captains are still helping with the overall planning of their training.

“For us, luckily, we have a lot of incoming freshmen…who are going to be really beneficial and they’re really going to help us out with some new skill,” De Souza said.

Sophomore attacker Madeline Raab agrees that the team has a solid player base coming into the season, and is optimistic about what lies ahead.

“I would just say this year we have a very balanced team of, like, sprinters and attackers and shooters, and I think we’re gonna do very good,” Raab said.

Raab also said that the team has benefitted from all the work they have put into the preparation.

“We’ve just been practicing concepts in the pool, out of the pool. Just getting ready for our first two games,” Raab said.

Vreeke said that coaching diving and water polo are two very different things, especially since she went from one diver to a full team of water polo players.

“This is a team sport, it’s really high intensity. Diving is an individual sport, you know, it’s very quiet, calculated,” Vreeke said.

De Souza said that the team began the season making goals for themselves, both personally and for the team.

“We had a little buddy system and now that buddy system has kind of turned into the whole unit and holding each other accountable and helping each other out and becoming closer as a family… We’re definitely gonna need to rely on one another this season in order to be successful,” De Souza said.

Vreeke believes that the Regals have the potential and talent to make it further in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference than they did last year as long as they can come together during the season.

“They’re fully capable of it, I know that and they know that. But again the team dynamic… needs to be strong in order to get to that point,” Vreeke said. “And then seeing how successful the men were this year I think it really put them in a mindset of, ‘Oh, we can get to that point too, we’re just as good,’… I think that it has made all of them really aware that this program can get, not only have they gotten up to that standard, they can remain up at the top.”

The Regals are looking forward to pushing through the season and showing off their talent in the SCIAC tournament this year.

“We’re all a family and I’m just excited for all of us to accomplish our goals together this year,” Raab said.

On Saturday, Feb. 11 the Regals played against Cal State Northridge and Concordia Irvine. The Regals fell to Northridge 9-13 and again to Concordia 7-12. Their next game is at home on Friday, Feb. 17 against Westcliff.