Water polo has been one of the success stories of Rockford High School athletics over the past decade or more. The state championships and winning seasons have been well-documented. Yet it seems the story does not end there. Several Rockford water polo alumni have teamed up with players from other West Michigan programs to form the 616 water polo team. They practice and play now for the sheer joy of placing the ball in the back of the net.
April 11-12, the team traveled roughly 13.5 hours one way to participate in the Tar Heel Water Polo Invitational at the University of North Carolina. Rockford is well-known for its outstanding water polo program, and numerous Rockford alumni are on the team. Traveling to North Carolina were Pat Clarin, Adam Keith, Andy Schuiling, Brent Augustine, Dave Vanlier and JR VanderWall.
The tournament began for the 616 team with a match against a fine team from Virginia Tech, with 616 winning 9-1. Next, the Charlotte Sharks fell to defeat by a score of 12-8.
The following day, the 616 team continued their winning ways by defeating Duke 11-4 and then handed Florida State University a 12-5 loss.
The championship game against the Boone County Outlaws was a thriller. After being down 4-1 at the half, the 616 team tied the score in the last minute and clinched the win with a goal by Augustine in the final seconds for a 7-6 victory, earning them first place in the tournament.
The 616 team welcomes all interested water polo alumni to open practices that are held at the Zeeland pool on Wednesdays from 7 to 9 p.m. and at the Jenison pool on Sundays from 6:15 to 8:15 p.m.
The team will have a home tournament hosted by Grand Haven High School June 19-21. For additional information, please contact Matt Skavnak at (309) 453-3435.