How is water polo at American High dealing with their equipment and budget issues?

Ronnie Lord

Staff Writer

     When you think of high school sports, the one that comes to mind is usually football. Football gets much of the attention during the fall, but another sport that occurs during this time is water polo. 27 boys and 19 girls make up these teams, but they are dealing with a huge problem right now.

     This season, the AHS water polo teams have been dealing with an equipment issue. During summer practices, some students noticed the balls lacked grip. As the season began, more cracks started to show. Many players, and even the coach, wondered why they were stuck with unsuitable equipment, and found new ways to adapt.

     “Our scoreboard is down. The lane lines are half broken, and cages are extremely old. The only thing that really works to be honest, is the shot clocks, everything else needs to be replaced,” shares Coach Amy, who coaches all 4 teams.

     Junior Roman Fanto talks about his equipment experience at the beginning of the year. “We just got new ones[balls] right at the start of the year, but before, everything was nasty. We had to clean everything off. It was all old and full of poop and stuff like that.”

     Zikai Lian (9) talks about one notable game affected by the equipment issues. “They had to pause the girls’ game for 15 minutes.”

     Fanto also mentions how this affects his free time, and even academic time. “It just makes it hard to have a consistent game. Some games run longer because of that. It goes over schedule. It’s like we get home at 9:00, 9:30, 10:00. None of us can do homework on time.”

     Lian has some theories on how sports funds are distributed. “We only get 2 to 3% of all the money and football and basketball get at least 50% which is pretty unfair.”

     Mr. Hashimoto, one of the school’s athletic directors, hopes to dispel these rumors. “All of the money comes from the money made at the gate and donations. We don’t get much from the district.”

     He explains what school athletics do get from the district. “The only thing the district pays for is safety equipment. Catcher’s gear and helmets for baseball/softball, alongside headgear for wrestling and water polo.”

     Lian, alongside some of his teammates, have some issues with their headgear though. “You know when we go out our caps are plain blue, but everyone else has logos on it and all that stuff? So we just look broke because our caps are bad.”

    Fanto shares this sentiment. “I mean, it feels like our hard work doesn’t get represented as well”.

     Aside from the lack of style, there is also a shortage of caps. Sean Gambhir (9) points out, “Once the team before us is done we have to warm up. Once they’re fully done we finally get the caps before we go into the game” Other schools in the district don’t have this issue.

     The biggest issue, however, is the scoreboard. Junior Hadi Hassanin, 3 year veteran, mentions another time equipment failure halted play. “One time the scoreboard was not working. We had to forget everything that was done that took an extra 30 minutes because it happened in between multiple games.” 

     Coach Amy has dealt with these scoreboard issues for years though. “The scoreboard has always been an issue even when I played. I went to James Logan high school and I graduated like 10 years ago, and the scoreboard was always an issue.”

     The school has noticed this problem too. Mr. Hashimoto endorses the idea of a new scoreboard, but the money isn’t there. “In the last few weeks we’ve looked into a quote for the scoreboard. But whenever we see the price, we back off.”

     There hasn’t been a quote yet, but looking back on history, he shares this astonishing figure. “The gym scoreboard was around $30k a few years ago, but it’s probably gone up even more.”

     So just how much does water polo get? While our current funding can’t afford us a new scoreboard, Coach Amy is happy with what her players were able to raise. “We had a good year with it.  We just invested $4,000 into the new shot clocks. Without that fundraiser, I don’t know we would have honestly been able to get those.”

     This isn’t the only necessary expense either. Mr. Hashimoto explores where some of the other money goes. “Some of the money goes to state membership, section membership, and league membership. Each sport also needs to pay 3 to 4 thousand dollars just to pay for refs every year.”

     So what are the solutions? Coach Amy shares her final thoughts on this topic. “I think it’s about reaching out and actually reaching out, and not complaining, like, ‘Oh, we need something’ but you know, taking action and reaching out to people and seeing what we can do.”

During halftime of a water polo home game on Wednesday against Mission, Coach Amy motivates her players (left to right) Mahita Ma (10), Crystal Ip (9), Yunshan Li (11) Dia Gupta (10), Mandy Fang (12), Yufei Dang (9), and Johannah George (10). The JV girls team would go on to lose in a close double overtime game.

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