The Exeter Water Polo Club traveled to Dallas, Texas for the Texas Challenge Cup on Nov 14-15. The 18u women’s team -- composed of players from Porterville, Tulare and Visalia -- finished in fourth place after competing against the top clubs in the entire state of Texas.
The tournament was unlike any other water polo tournament the Exeter Water Polo Club had attended before. All the games were played in an indoor pool. The parents that traveled with the team were unable to attend any of the games in-person, and were required to watch the games on a live stream feed from the hotel.
“I had a great time traveling to Texas for the tournament,” said Skylar Ford. Ford went to Redwood High School and now plays for Azusa Pacific. “I have not gotten to play in an actual game of water polo in about a year. It was a great feeling to get to play and have the competitive spirit again. It was a great opportunity to get to play against teams we don’t always see, and it was also a cool experience playing in an indoor pool!”
Porterville High grad, Shyanne Rainey, also shared her thoughts on the experience.
“Traveling was very different than in the past,” Rainey, who also plays at APU, said. “One of the most memorable moments in the pool was playing the last game with my twin sister. The most memorable moment out of the pool was on the ride back to the hotel after our last game, and the whole van was singing ‘Sweet Caroline.’ It was such a great experience to travel with this group of girls. We had lots of fun, laughing, playing card games, and playing a sport that we love.”
For Ford, Shyanne Rainey and Samantha Rainey (PHS, Biola University) this was their last 18u tournament since they age out December 31.
But this tournament was also an opportunity for the younger athletes to step up and gain experience. Tulare Western freshman, Olivia Machado, ended the tournament with three of the last seven goals the team had.
“As the youngest player on our team, the most memorable moment I had at the challenge cup was scoring three out of seven goals in our final game,” Machado said. “My experience traveling to Texas was super fun; I was glad to be back in the pool playing with a great group of girls.”
Since July, the team has practiced three days a week out of the Lindsay Wellness Center. The club has had approximately 50 athletes spread out in different pods practicing to stay in shape for a potential high school water polo season.
The Exeter Water Polo Club would like to thank the Lindsay Wellness Center for housing the team's practices, Hansen Travel for setting up hotels and flights, Debbie Rainey from Debbies Legal Typing for organizing snacks/meals and transportation for the team, the Britton Family, and Thunder Water Polo Club from Texas who hosted the tournament
If you are interested in joining the Exeter Water polo club feel free to contact coach Jack Amaral 909-782-7157 or check out the teams website at www.exeterwaterpoloclub.com.