By Luke Holthouse
Defending last year’s CIF Championship will be a tough task for the girls’ water polo team without a home pool to defend it in.
Due to the construction of the new pool, the team has no pool on campus and must drive three miles to Los Angeles Valley College for practice.
The pool was not the only thing that underwent construction, as the team graduated four-year starters Ashley Grossman ’11 and Camille Hooks ’11 and saw the departure of head coach Robert Lynn. Grossman and Hooks, who are currently playing for Stanford and Princeton, had their eyes set on a CIF title since their freshman seasons.
“They’re both very talented players,” Bella Gonzalez ’12 said. “Out of the pool, they were great leaders, really getting the girls on the team motivated. When they started freshman year, they immediately had an impact because they knew what they wanted, and that was to win CIF. Their mindset was what got us forward and what started us out for our CIF trip.”
The loss of Hooks and Grossman will cause a significant change in the depth of the team’s offense. Grossman leaves a void at the two-meter position, while Hooks was one of the team’s best perimeter shooters.
“You can’t fill their shoes, there’s no way, but you can develop people into playing a good, solid spread offense,” Morgan Hallock ’13 said. “We have seven girls coming back, but the roles will be a little different for everyone.”
After two years, Lynn unexpectedly left to coach Newport Harbor. He led the girls’ team to its first CIF title in the program’s history and the boys’ team to a playoff berth.
“We bonded as a team, and especially with coach Lynn,” Hallock said. “He really loved and dedicated a lot to the team. He helped lead us to a CIF Championship and we’re really grateful to him for that.”
New head coach Brian Flacks ’06 brings the same focused mentality that helped last year’s team go as far as it did. Hallock said it is only a matter of time before the team feels comfortable with each other and the coaches again.
Hallock said that despite the challenges, the team should make it to the playoffs. Girls’ water polo has won league each of the last 15 years, and with the group of girls they have, Hallock is confident they can win again this year.
“Obviously, we really want to try to repeat,” Kristen Lee ’12 said. “It was so great last year and I know we have the potential to do it.”