Edmonton Tsunami Water Polo Club was thrilled to host YEG Fitness at a practice in December. Be sure to check out the link to their January Issue where an article about the Edmonton Water Polo Club can be found on page 38! (Copy of the article also listed below)
A growing number of young Edmonton area athletes are enthusiastically diving into water polo, arguably one of the most demanding of all sports. Combining the endurance of elite swimming, the physicality of wrestling and the agility of gymnastics, water polo is played in a two-meter-deep pool which requires players to battle for the ball without touching the bottom. Consistently rated among the most physically demanding sports, athletes of the Edmonton Tsunami Water Polo Club find that these challenges are what make the sport fun and keep them coming back to the pool for years. With U8 programming all the way to Masters water polo, Tsunami gives everyone the opportunity to play.
For Jovan Kostadinovic, Tsunami U19 athlete, water polo has been a major part of his life for the past ten years. Throwing his first water polo ball when he was nine, Jovan describes water polo as an exciting and action-packed sport. Aside from his love for water polo, Jovan describes Tsunami as his family, not just his team. “I’ve made so many memories in the sport that I will cherish, not only with my team but with players from opposing teams,” Jovan says.
Water polo is played with 14 players in the water at a time; six field players and a goalie for each team. Similar in tactics to basketball or handball, water polo players must strategize and work together to advance the ball up the 25-meter playing field in an attempt to score on the opponent’s net.While its basic objective may sound simple, the inability to ever touch the ground makes it drastically more demanding for players.
While Jovan and other Tsunami athletes have been playing the sport for years, others may have had their first taste of water polo in September at the start of a new season. Growing from 57 athletes last season to more than 90 this year, Tsunami is working to expose as many athletes as possible to the fast-paced sport and offers free trials in hopes to get more kids in the water.
The majority of Tsunami members are multi-sport athletes and the club encourages them to stay involved in other activities. While most are water polo players in the winter and swimmers in the summer, others also compete in hockey, football, basketball, Taekwondo, volleyball and cheerleading.Riley Zilkie splits her time between cheerleading and competing with Tsunami at the provincial level. Coming from a swim background, Riley first tried water polo this past summer and became one of Tsunami’s many new members this fall. “I started off at Tsunami as a newbie but all the coaches and players welcomed me into their family,” says Riley. “I usually don’t like sports but I honestly love water polo andI will keep playing.”
Taylor Halbauer, Tsunami U19 and U16 athlete, is not new to the sport. Starting as a swimmer, Taylor is now in her sixth water polo season and her love and dedication to the sport is infectious among her teammates. Competing across western Canada and playing at the national and international stage motivates Taylor and other Tsunami athletes such as Kendra Justice, a U12 athlete. With a long-term goal of being a member of the Canadian women’s national team, Taylor’s coaches strive to help her and other athletes achieve their goals.
“Our coaching staff feels very privileged to have the opportunity to mentor and support our athletes,” says Raine Paul, Tsunami head coach who has returned to Edmonton after playing four NCAA seasons in southern California. “I can’t think of anything more rewarding than helping an athlete achieve their goal and being a part of that journey. We don’t take a timeout from being coaches just because practice is over, we are coaches 24/7 because for us coaching water polo isn’t a job, it’s our passion.”
Leah, a new Tsunami mom this season, is watching as her daughter enjoys water polo and makes friendships with her new teammates. “My daughter joined the Tsunami this year and was warmly welcomed by the athletes, families and coaches. Having never played before, her coach is ensuring she is learning the skills needed, and is patient and encouraging with her development,” Leah says. “The sport is amazing for the whole person, and our daughter is happy and proud to belong to the Tsunami family.”
Whether athletes are returning for another season or putting on a swim cap for the very first time, water polo is a great way to develop swim skills in an interactive, safe and fun environment. As Edmonton’s oldest water polo program and celebrating its 35th anniversary this season, Tsunami hopes to see new faces at the pool soon.