Water polo on the rise in Northern Nevada
Northern Nevada isn’t exactly known as a Mecca for water polo, but the sport continues to grown in the area.
And local water polo coach Charlie Bowman said Northern Nevada has the potential to become more prominent in the sport. Bowman, who is also the Douglas High swimming coach, is the head coach for the local club program in the Nevada Water Polo Foundation that practices at the Carson Aquatic Facility.
Along with assistant coach Donnie Richmond, Bowman oversees program that consists of Masters teams for players 19 and older and boys and girls teams for players under 19. Normally up to 20 players can be seen practicing and participating in co-ed games at every Monday at the Carson Aquatic Facility.
And because a boiler has burned out at Reno’s Moana Pool, players from Reno’s program are now practicing at the Carson Aquatic Facility as well. The local program includes players from Carson City, Douglas County, South Tahoe, Incline Village and Dayton. “This has been great for the kids to come down from Reno,” Bowman said.
It makes sense that water polo is growing in the area since Northern Nevada is strong in swimming and many swimmers play water polo to help improve their swimming. Many of those in the local water polo program swim in high school.
And many have those have gravitated to preferring water polo over swimming. “A lot of these guys swim in their high school swim teams,” Bowman said.
Water polo helps swimmers in many ways as those who play swim from one end to the other throughout the game and in between their treading water, which strengthens the legs. A brief description of water polo is there are seven players per team and it’s a lot like basketball, only in the water.
The main position is the two-meter player, who plays in the “hole” two meters away from the goal. The position is similar to that of the center in basketball. The game is also physical with much of the physical play happening under water.
The local program has been going since 2004. “In the past we’ve had some pretty good teams,” Bowman said. The local program has had teams that have placed in the top three in tournaments in California.
About the Masters program, Bowman said, “We have a very good group.”
Washoe County also offers a high school league. “A lot of these kids play in the high school league,” Bowman said.
In addition, Reno hosts a Labor Day water polo tournament every year in which top high school teams from California and Utah compete.
And the local program, which also practices at the Carson Valley Aquatic Center, has had players play on the national level by advancing to play for the Mountain Zone teams which covers Utah, New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada. “We’ve had a few of these kids go play on the zone teams,” Bowman said.
Bowman, who graduated from Douglas High in 1993 and now lives in Dayton, began playing water polo in Washoe County’s league when he was 13. The local program began informally before growing into a club program. “We were doing a drop-in program and just playing for fun,” said Bowman about how the program began.
In the future, Bowman said he could see water polo becoming a Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association sport in Northern Nevada.
“We’ve got a lot of potential here,” Bowman said. “We’ve got a great group of people, a great group of kids. We’ve got a lot of talent.”
Among those talented players is Reno’s Aimee Bedell, who is taking high school and college classes at Truckee Meadows Community College. After she graduates this year, she will play water polo at Arizona State. She also swims for the Wooster High girls swim team.
Like many others, Bedell began water polo to help her swimming, but swimming ended up helping her water polo.
“It helps your endurance,” Bedell said. “It helps your speed. Swimming really helps my water polo.
“I prefer water polo over swimming. I just started water polo and ended up loving it more than swimming. Most people don’t know there’s a water polo team.”
But through her play at the Mountain Zone level, Bedell gained her chance to play at ASU. “That helped me get noticed,” she said.
Devin Norton, a freshman for Reno High’s boys swim team, said he likes what water polo does for his swimming. “It strengthens my shoulders and my legs especially,” he said.