At six in the morning, most high schoolers haven’t even started hitting the snooze button on their alarms, but for junior Ely Selden it’s time for his morning routine: a cool down in the Redwood pool.
“I’m half asleep when I leave. We usually get to the weight room and work out in there for 30 minutes before hitting the pool to loosen up and warm up for the day,” Selden said.
As the varsity boys’ water polo team is in the midst of its season, this busy schedule is warranted. According to Selden, the team practices eight times a week in addition to games and tournaments on the weekend.
Although initially he did water polo solely for conditioning purposes, Selden has turned it into an activity where, from being named MVP his freshman year to being a captain of the team this year, he has thrived as a vital player.
“I’d say I’m a more active player or at least I’m trying to be this year. I used to just take outside shots and play defense, but this year I’m trying to be more active because we don’t have any big dominant players this year,” Selden said.
Selden began playing six years ago in sixth grade for the Tiburon Peninsula Club (TPC) Sharks, a local club team. At the time, he was also playing soccer and baseball and used water polo as a sport to help stay in shape.
“First I was just doing it for conditioning for soccer and baseball because it’s a vigorous sport. But then I never really liked baseball that much so I quit and I found water polo more entertaining than soccer, so I stuck with water polo,” Selden said.
Selden is now one of the three captains, a trio faced with leading a group of mostly underclassmen after last year’s graduation
left the team lacking in senior superstars, including previous captains Tim Peterson and Francesco Cico.
“We lost a lot of our best players last year. Since we are trying to rebuild our team this year, continuing the legacy is trying to win MCALs next year and to play well this season,” Selden said.
Sporting the number two on his cap, Selden is the second highest scorer on the team, with a total of 16 goals so far and is tied for the highest number of steals at 17.
During the 45 games he’s played over the course of two year on varsity, Selden has taken a total of 76 shots on goal, converted 39 of those into goals, has had 32 assists and has had 34 steals.
As a versatile player, Selden plays utility, a position meant for someone who is defensively and offensively skilled and capable of interchanging their positions in the pool.
“I think he is a very well-rounded player and you can put him anywhere and he’ll do his job,” said Tor Parawell, a junior and co-captain.
Senior Jacob Berston agrees that Selden is a player that you can always count on.
“Ely is not scared to make a decision and he doesn’t have any fear out in the game. He is able to think quickly and act upon those thoughts,” said Berston. “When you give the ball to Ely, you can also trust him to make a smart pass and put down a accurate shot.”
Parawell met Selden during the summer of sophomore year, when they played together during water polo trip to Croatia. From teammate to friend to co-captain, Parawell regards Selden as a hard worker, a great communicator and a responsible captain whose actions garner respect from the entire team.
“He’s a team leader. He’s not really a captain to me but more like a friend and I feel like he’s a friend to everyone on the team,” said Parawell.
Berston matches Parawell’s thoughts on Selden as a captain.
“Ely is the main captain because he’s our best player and is always there, he’s a dedicated player. Ely never questions his actions. He realizes what he has to do and then executes it,” Berston said. “[As captain] he is given a platform to which he can manage and instruct the team accordingly.”
With his newfound position as captain, Selden has found himself becoming more vocal in practices instead of keeping to himself in order to keep the team organized and improving.
“To me, being the captain is trying to help everyone be as good as possible and help everyone stay on the same page,” Selden said.
“I try to give them constructive criticism which doesn’t always work. But it depends on the person, you have to figure out what works for them.”
Parawell and Selden, along with their third co-captain, senior Cale Tippett, work together after each game by watching the game tapes to review and discuss strategies for the future and make sure they are all helping everyone perform to the best of their abilities.
“As a captain, he works hard and leads the team with a nice energy and everyone respects him,” Parawell said. “If there is an issue on the team, he tries to solve it and he’s constantly thinking about the game and ways we can improve.”
Berston believes that Selden wasn’t just chosen because of his talents but also because of his naturally positive personality.
“The kind of person that Ely is, is reflected in the way he plays. He doesn’t play dirty or is an aggressive player. He is a honest athlete and a really nice person, well-tempered and in control,” Berston said.
Selden plays water polo year round and when Redwood season isn’t in session, he plays for Sleepy Hollow Aquatics (SHAQ), a competitive club team.
“The last couple of years, I’ve spent more energy on waterpolo than on school, which is fine for freshman and sophomore year, but this year it’s a lot more difficult because the workload is a lot harder,” Selden said. “But it’s a really good way to blow off steam because you use a lot of energy.”
According to Selden, this season has been rough due to the difficulty level of the tournaments they’ve played in and the number of new faces to the varsity team.
“Our biggest goal right now is being able to play well enough to beat Tam so we can get second in MCALs because I don’t think we have a chance of beating Drake this year,” Selden said. “In our league games we’ve only lost to Drake, which is an insane team.”
Selden and his team play next at home against Tam on Oct. 24.