The student news site of Coral Gables Senior High School


The student news site of Coral Gables Senior High School


The student news site of Coral Gables Senior High School


Cavalier Aquatics Now Shoot Into Water Polo Season

Rafael Hanono
Junior Luca Verdi makes a wet pass to senior Ty Tyson traveling towards the center during the first game of the season against Miami Beach High.

Passing the wet ball along the perimeter of the pool, the Cavaliers work their way towards the center, where the goal is located. Recently, the Coral Gables Senior High water polo team partook in their first pre-season game against Ransom Everglades.

Returning from winter break, Gables’ spring sports have begun their season. Water polo players now commit themselves to the success of the team, creating a blend of unexperienced and experienced players from all grade levels, supervised by Coach Maxwell Wood.

Swimming is a fall sport and water polo a spring sport. Linking the two is a five week period of downtime where athletes maintain fitness by participating in off-season training. Water polo conditioning began after swimming ended, on Nov. 27. Practice took took place every day after school from 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Goalie and senior player Elle Kardatzke blocks the shot made by Ransom Everglades during the first pre-season game. (Rafael Hanono)

Pre-season preparations included physical exercise, either in the weight room or on the Gables field, on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays. Workouts in preseason practices consisted of running around the field, suicides on the courts and several sets of weightlifting focusing on the legs, shoulders and abdominal muscles.

While the team trained in the weight room, the amount of sets and repetitions for each exercise were written on a board, giving students the freedom to use as much weight as they pleased. This allowed the athletes to focus on which body parts they needed to strengthen individually.

“It is very new to me but it has been such a positive experience to be taught and play with returners because they make the hard work fun and it is something I look forward to everyday,” freshman Natsumi Crowe  said.

Additionally, Cavaliera engaged in whiteboard lessons on Tuesday and Thursday. Whiteboard meetings took place in room 2133 where Coach Wood, the captains and returning members taught and reviewed the water polo rules, refreshing players’ memories and teaching the new players. Coach Wood would go over several plays and different types of scrimmages, explaining them in detail.

“This season, we are really trying to focus on working together and making sure its not too dependent on one person because we are all one team and one family,” sophomore Thena Barzola said.

Practices currently take place everyday after school at Ransom Everglades, beginning promptly at 3:00 p.m. and ending at 5:00 p.m. The first day back from the winter break, Jan. 8, marked the start of the season and the first day of practice.

The week after winter break is what Coach Wood calls “hell week” because of the intense exercises that make up that week of practice. Several of these drills focus on building endurance and increasing speed in the water. These drills include different forms of treading water, dirty dozens and head up sprints. Treading water for water polo is essential because it enables players to block shots and pass the ball without sinking below the surface.

“Hell week is hell because you come off of two weeks of not doing anything and enjoying winter break and you need to be ready to swim and be conditioned. It sucks going through it but the purpose is to train them to get better for the next week and the weeks after that,” Coach Wood said.

Senior Ty Tyson catches the ball during a game against Cutler Bay and breaks into split egg beater positioning, getting ready to shoot the ball. (Dimitra Boutsis)

As the team has begun attending one or more games weekly, Coach Wood often runs at least one scrimmage during practice. Scrimmages are practice games were players take their proper positions and play against other teammates, simulating a real game. By doing this, players are comfortable with competing in a game-like setting, with players constantly being substituted in and out of games.

With almost 40 team members and only one coach, captains are heavily relied on and often will demonstrate drills or work one on one with players in need of assistance. This year’s water polo captains, seniors Ty Tyson and Gloria Zaky, were also the swim captains; now, they lead the team as highly experienced players and passionate teammates.

“The captains have done a remarkable job so far, stepping up and helping the team become stronger considering the fact that the team has nearly doubled since last year,” sophomore Joshua Markowitz said.

The most recent game took place on Feb. 6 at Ransom after school. The girls game began precisely at 3:00 p.m. and the boys game began at 4:00 p.m.. Both teams were able to bring home a victorious win. The Gables water polo team now prepares to face Goleman High during their next game on Feb. 15, at the Ransom pool deck.

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About the Contributors
Gracie Luzarraga, CavsConnect Staff Writer
Gracie Luzarraga is a sophomore at Coral Gables Senior High and is a part of the International Baccalaureate program. She is a first-year member of Cavsconnect and very excited to be part of the staff and see how her writing improves throughout this school year. Gracie is very ambitious and loves trying out new things as well as traveling to unfamiliar places. She values writing about her experiences, which is where her passion for writing comes from. She is a member of the swim team and various clubs. Outside of school, she enjoys spending most of her time under the sun, at the beach, baking or reading a good book. Gracie hopes to make the most of her sophomore year by giving back to the community and being as active as she can in the student body. She hopes to pursue a career in the health field one day and work with kids. Overall, Gracie looks forward to this school year and plans to continue to strive as a student.
Rafael Hanono, CavsTV Staff
Rafael Hanono is a sophomore in the International Baccalaureate (IB) program. He swims and plays Water Polo for Gables and is the only goalie on the team. He has been playing guitar for the past five years. Moreover, this is his first year in CavsTV. Rafa's passion is to be a doctor focusing in Orthopedics and Sports Medicine or to be a Banker and Financier. Excited to start CavsTV, he’s looking forward to contributing his best for the next three years.
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