Harvard-Westlake water polo workforce will use hockey-like shifts

The splashing within the pool at Studio Metropolis Harvard-Westlake Excessive gives a tiny trace at what’s going down throughout water polo practices beneath its new coach, 28-year-old Jack Grover, who has a lot expertise to work with that he’ll be using ice hockey-like line modifications each three or 4 minutes.

“What’s special about this group is we play at such a high level but there’s not one person doing everything,” he mentioned. “We don’t rely on one player, which is pretty unique at the high school level.”

When Brian Flacks left to develop into head coach at Stanford, Harvard-Westlake employed the highest assistant at UCLA, Grover, who’s a former Loyola Excessive star. Since he was already recruiting most of the Harvard-Westlake gamers, he knew what he was inheriting.

“I had seen them play a number of times to the point during the interview process I was sitting up at night and thinking, ‘What if I get this position, how am I going to use this player?’ ” he mentioned.

Now he’ll attempt to develop a younger workforce that made it to the Southern Part Open Division semifinals final season earlier than shedding to Huntington Seashore 11-9. The Wolverines are off to a 2-0 begin and face defending Open Division champion Newport Harbor on the highway Sept. 10.

The Wolverines have eight gamers on their roster who’re members of USA youth or cadet nationwide groups. Their No. 1 goalie, 6-foot-6 Baxter Chelsom, was on the USA youth workforce that gained a championship in Budapest, however he receives fixed competitors from No. 2 goalie 6-6 James Peace and No. 3 goalie Jaaziah McZeal, who began for the 16U Junior Olympics championship workforce.

It goes on and on. Ben Oerlemans, a standout junior, performs for the Dutch youth nationwide workforce. Standout sophomore Otto Stothart is a citizen of Spain and Australia. Senior Jack Burghardt is on the youth nationwide workforce and sophomore Connor Kim is on the cadet nationwide workforce. There’s one freshman to look at in Aidan Romain. Taj Draper, as soon as one of the best participant at Encino Crespi, has additionally joined the workforce.

Beginning middle Jeff Koretz is understood for creating scoring alternatives for teammates, which is a part of Harvard-Westlake‘s success. Getting so many good players to play together is key because the Wolverines have multiple scoring threats.

There are teams around the Southland that will give the Wolverines plenty of trouble. San Juan Capistrano JSerra has picked up one of the best players in Ryder Dodd from Huntington Beach. Defending champion Newport Harbor returns UCLA commit Ben Liechty, a 6-4 senior who will be a four-year starter and is the third brother starring in water polo.

It has been an intriguing time in water polo with many coaching changes both in college and high school.

Harvard-Westlake first-year water polo coach Jack Grover.

(Craig Weston)

“This period of time has been crazy,” Grover said. “There have been more coaching positions open in the last five months than I’ve ever seen.”

There are few sports activities the place highschool coaches can transfer instantly to the faculty ranks, however water polo is one among them. Flacks was teaching nationwide groups earlier than leaving for Stanford. Earlier than arriving at Harvard-Westlake, Grover was instructed in the course of the interview course of the Wolverines prepare like a university program.

“These kids pick up things really fast and what they may lack in age, they make up with the aptitude being able to understand instruction,” he mentioned.

The gamers perceive how the transition of coaches shifting simply from completely different ranges is a part of the game’s historical past.

“The water polo community is very close knit,” Chelsom mentioned. “A lot of the coaches know each other and a lot of the players know the coaches. When a coach’s talent is recognized, it’s recognized across all levels of water polo.”

Harvard-Westlake gamers haven’t forgotten their loss within the semifinals.

“It was a pretty painful experience,” Chelsom mentioned. “This full year has been how do we make sure we don’t feel the same.”