OhioWaterPolo.com caught up with Ohio State Women’s Water Polo as they are preparing to head to the University of Pittsburgh and attend the 2017 Women’s National Collegiate Club Championships. We sat down with Katie Caldwell and Megan Wolf to get to know the club a little bit more.
Katie is graduating this spring with a degree in psychology. When she graduates, she doing research for Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL. Megan is a junior studying psychology with a specialization in Human Resources.
1. OWP: Coming into the season, what expectations did your club have? What would have been a success for the club? What would have been a failure?
KC: We worked hard in the off season and knew we had a lot of potential even in the beginning. Our team has such incredible depth and experience that anything short of winning Big Ten’s would’ve been a failure. I know not much is expected of Ohio water polo, but we expected a winning season.
MW: Coming into the season, we were really hoping to win the Big10 Championship this year. After barely losing to Michigan in the semi-final last season, we knew we had the potential to reach great heights and take our first conference title.
That being said, losing would not have been viewed as a complete failure for us as a club. Our goal is to combine competitive water polo with a strong inclusive environment and as long as we care about each other and are committed to the team, I view that as a success.
2. OWP: What was a driving factor this year in rising to the top of the CWPA Big Ten and being ranked most of the year?
KC: I think what drives our team is the desire to make our teammates proud. Not one player cares more about herself than she does about the team. We are not a one-woman show. I think that’s what makes us unique. We all shoot, we all steal, and we all want to protect our goalie. We’re a team of women who love each other–that’s driven our success.
MW: I think the biggest driving factor for our success this year was the vision we’ve had since the beginning. We not only got an influx of great new players, but we also built upon the awesome returning talent we had from last year. Our team is not only committed to water polo, but committed to each other and together it created an environment for success.
3. OWP: Tell me about how coaches? Who are they? Where are they from?
KC: Nate is our head coach and he is from the Columbus area. He has coached for St. Charles High School for years. Olivia is our assistant coach, also from the Columbus area, and coaches for Worthington. They both have a strong desire to show the country that Ohio can play water polo.
MW: Both of our coaches actually come from the Columbus area! Nate Cohen was the assistant coach to Geoff Gear for a while at St. Charles Prep and Olivia Miranda currently runs both the Thomas and Kilbourne Worthington girl’s high school teams. Nate is our head coach and has been with our program for two and a half years, when we initially placed sixth in our conference. We just brought Olivia on as the assistant coach this past spring due to our large numbers and we have loved every minute of her being with us! Both coaches were vital in our rise to first place this year.
This will actually be Nate’s last year coaching us though, and the women’s team is looking for a new head coach if anyone has any interest. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information!
4. OWP: How close are you to the men’s team? Do you Scrimmage? Is it a good water polo community?
KC: We’re pretty close to the men’s team. They’re actually coming to our last practice tonight to help prepare us for Nationals! We frequently have of socials together and, in true water polo fashion, there are a few couples between the teams. We may mock each other from time to time, but in the end we always have each other’s backs. It’s an unbeatable water polo community.
MW: We are decently close with the men’s team, we interact with them socially outside of the pool but we have practice before the men’s team so we never end up playing with them. We are very supportive of each other though, any success that Ohio State water polo has is a success for us all!
5. OWP: Tell me about your numbers. During a couple tournaments, you had a 2nd team. Does this show an opportunity for long term success? Also, are all of your teammates from Ohio and Midwest? Any outliers?
KC: This is such a solid year for us primarily because of the massive influx we had in the fall. We have freshman, PhD candidates, and everything in between. The fact that we could field a B team this year definitely shows an opportunity for long term success. Our program is growing, the players are growing, and our playing styles are improving across every skill level. Overall, most of our players are from Ohio, but we do have a few outliers–two girls from California, one from North Carolina, and a handful from Chicago. What keeps us all on the same page is our “Buckeye Polo” style of playing.
From day one, our coach stresses the importance of us all playing together in the same style. Regardless of how we played on previous teams, at Ohio State we front at center, we maximize fast break opportunities, and we make things happen for our teammates.
MW: We had about 32 girls pay dues this semester so it is the biggest team we have ever had. Having a big team is amazing but it also brings extra challenges we have never had before. We have a very young team so there is a lot of hope for continuing a strong program into the future! As for the makeup of our team, the large majority of our girls originate from Ohio, with a few girls coming from the Chicago area, and even one or two coming from California! It is an exciting mix and it is really cool to see Midwest polo grow to become so strong.
6. OWP: Your opening match this weekend is against nearby Washington University in St. Louis. Have you played them recently? If not, how do you go into a game without knowing the competition? What are you doing in practice to prepare for a mystery?
KC: All we really know about Washington University is their ranking. We haven’t played them recently and we are going into our first game blind. I remember watching them lose a game at Nationals my freshman year, but that was a long time ago. Regardless, I don’t think we’re concerned. Whether it’s the first seed or the last seed, we’re going to play our game. We’ll figure out their style in the first few minutes and acclimate accordingly. We’re usually a second-half team anyways.
MW: We have never seen Washington University play before. In fact, we know absolutely nothing about them! I think though, that our team can use this to our advantage because we can really focus on playing our own game. Since we don’t know any of the key players or even their style of play, the only option we have is to do our very best, and trust that it will be enough to win!
7. OWP: Ohio State University is an enormous institution. How has the school supported your club?
MW: We are a part of the RecSports department at Ohio State and get annual administrative and financial support from the university. We are also offered free practice space and discounted pool costs for hosting tournaments which are some very nice benefits.
8. OWP: What are your expectations for this weekend? Top 4? Top 2? 1?
KC: This is a tough question because we don’t know our opponents too well. I’d LOVE to say that we have the top four locked in, but who knows what will happen. We’re going to try our best and see where we land!
MW: We honestly don’t have many expectations for this weekend. Our big goal this season was to win Big10s, and we did that, so now, anything that happens at Nationals is just icing on the cake. Obviously, we would love to do well at the tournament, but we are really just there to do our very best and enjoy the ride!