The Redwood boys water polo team placed second in MCALs at the end of the 2016 season, just behind the nationally ranked, Drake High School team. Redwood excelled due to their offensive style, which was centered around a star hole set. This year, however, the team’s climate has drastically changed.
In the offseason, the team lost a total of 11 players, eight of whom went off to college. The other three – Will Kepler, Scott Matthews and Jesse Smith – left the team for personal reasons.
“We lost a lot of our really great seniors to college. Our starting lineup had six players [who left the team], and we lost five of them,” said senior Jacob Berston, a current player who has been on Varsity since his sophomore year.
Among the eight players the team lost to college was their star hole set, Wyatt Barker.
“Hole set is the main scoring position, and currently we don’t have a star hole set, so we need to change our playing style,” Berston said.
Unfortunately, a high school sports team will always lose players due to aging out. Head coach Rudy Kardos takes it as a matter of fact and looks toward the future.
“We just have to change our style. When you have a star player, the team will play around the star player, but we now need to play more of a team game,” Kardos said.
Raised in Czechoslovakia, Kardos coaches with a different outlook on how success can be achieved.
“I think in this country, people focus too much on looking for excuses they can make rather than just taking responsibility. If we can step up as a team, I think we will perform well,” said Kardos.
The team also lost a goalie, another very important asset to the team. However, junior Edward Messler, an exchange student from Sweden has stepped into the position.
“[Edward] is performing really well so far. He is adapting to the way things work, not only in the pool, but in the country,” Berston said.
Although most of the current seniors on the team returned for their last year, two seniors quit the team, as well as one junior.
Will Kepler, a senior who left the sport, spoke on his reasons for leaving.
“Initially, I wanted to quit [water polo] because I was never super into it, and I figured that it wouldn’t be such a bad idea since I want to focus on my grades and college applications,” said Kepler.
The Giant’s next game is at Saint Francis High School on Friday, Sept. 15.