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The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

Water polo looks for new leadership heading into season

Justin Tang
AROUND THE BLOCK: Attacker Alex Heenan ’24 throws a no-look pass, looking to break down the defense. After three months in tough training, the team is back against St. Francis High School on Aug. 23.

The boys’ water polo team began preseason training in preparation for the upcoming fall season on Aug. 7. Last season, the team finished with a total record of 21-8 and a league record of 4-0, losing to Newport Harbor High School in the California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section (CIF-SS) Open Division Playoffs semifinal.

Water Polo Program Head Jack Grover said the team’s main goal this season is self-improvement and for the players to hold themselves accountable.

“One of our biggest goals is to focus on ourselves over the teams that we play against,” Grover said. “We’ve made our training more about self-accountability than anything. We talked about the different types of leadership and that the first step in becoming a leader is [taking] ownership [over] yourself and leading yourself. That means making sure you’re doing everything you can
to be successful, holding yourself accountable, making sure you’re on time and doing everything to the best of your ability. If you’re doing those things, you can really graduate to the higher forms of leadership.”

Grover said leadership on the team is diverse because many players on the team step up in different ways.

“There are so many different people that are team leaders without even realizing it,” Grover said. “Our senior class has all sorts of leaders: guys who lead by example, like Alexander Wiezorek [’24]. Or, Dean Strauser [’24], who’s more of a vocal leader. Or Alex Heenan [’24], who’s leading every swim set, which is a way of leadership too.”

Three of the players on the team are members of national teams; Connor Kim ’25 and Aidan Romain ’26 are on the USA Water Polo Men’s Cadet National Team, and Ben Oerlemans ’24 is on the Netherlands Youth National Team. Grover said players gain significant experience competing on the national stage.

“We have three of our guys coming back from playing with their national teams,” Grover said. “[Romain], a young player, and [Kim], who got some really valuable experience playing in Greece. [Oerlemans] just came off several weeks of training in the Netherlands, training in Hungary and playing games in Turkey. We’re gonna look to him to bring some of that experience back.”

All players on the team play for the club water polo team, LA Premier. The 16-and-under team recently won first place at the 2023 USA Water Polo Junior Olympics, their second consecutive championship in two years. James Peace ’24 said the team will continue to play to their strengths as a whole team despite their particularly strong junior class.

“We have a lot of great guys on that roster, not only individually as individual players but also as a [16-and-under] team,” Peace said. “I feel as though our strength is still in our entire team. There are some high school teams out there that are still good teams. However, their strength is just having a bunch of good individual players. The way we have been trained to play is to have our team as our strength, and I feel as though we have the potential to be the best by doing that.”

The team’s first game will be against St. Francis High School at home Aug. 2.

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Justin Tang, Print Managing Editor

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