Newly formed water polo team gains followers on campus (March 29 - The Daily Reveille)
BATON ROUGE, La. -- Tony Frey came to Louisiana State University confident he would continue his high school pastime of water polo in college. The only problem was that LSU didn't have a water polo club.
Frey, a business sophomore, decided to start the club last year after being involved with the sport for two years in high school.
The Houston native and his friends began recruiting members to join the club through Facebook and advertisements at the University Recreation Student Recreation Complex. That was only the beginning of getting the ball rolling for the club.
Frey said while the club has done promotional events and fundraisers like Tiger Stadium cleanup and selling concessions at baseball games, it's difficult for a new club to get recognized by LSU and receive optimal practice times and locations.
"It was easy to draw the people," said senior water polo player Anthony Cane, also a business major. "The problem we had was getting a pool to play in. It took us about a year to get permission to use [the Natatorium]."
Frey said one of the toughest aspects of the sport for the team is dealing with the mix of experience levels that come from a newly founded club.
"Some people come in not knowing anything. Some people swam in high school, and some people played all four years in high school," Frey said. "It's a good growing experience for everybody."
In LSU's first-ever tournament this weekend, the club came back from two goals down with less than three minutes left to win an 9-8 overtime thriller against Auburn.
Cane netted the goal that put LSU ahead.
"It felt really good to know that we could do that," Cane said. "The fact that we were down with not a lot of time left but were able to come back showed a lot about our team."
Frey noted the significance of the win for the team, which only started practicing last semester.
"Seeing us compete and actually beat a team at a tournament gave me reassurance that this team was going to go places," he said. "I felt as though we're actually becoming something legitimate."
However, the team's path to its tournament and first win wasn't an easy one.
Before defeating Auburn in overtime, LSU had lost its first game of the tournament in a tight contest with Georgia. The team later fell to Central Florida in its final game.
The experience was a positive one for the team, though.
"A lot of people at the tournament were pretty surprised," Cane said. "They have clubs that have been around for 20 years or so, and we made a statement to them."
Cane added the team had to borrow caps from another school at the tournament because they only had enough money for one color of caps.
Cane said LSU is receiving opportunities for future tournaments now that other schools know it has a team. He wants to keep generating interest among the LSU community, as well.
"I'm really hoping that people here at LSU know we're around because there's 30,000 people that go here," Frey said. "There's bound to be some people who have experienced the sport before but don't yet know about the club."
Cane and Frey agreed the team needs to keep competing in tournaments to improve and, most importantly, get more practice time.
"We want to get an additional day," Cane said. "Two days a week really isn't enough to stay competitive."
Story published in the March 29 Reveille Daily