By routing Zeeland Wednesday night, Oct. 7, in a key conference match-up, the Rockford boys water polo team extended their streak of finishing atop the OK conference to an unbelievable 17 years. Rockford’s streak began in 1993, the year Bill Clinton was inaugurated, Jurassic Park (the first one) was a box office smash, and the Power Rangers made their television debut. Most of the 2009 Rams hadn’t yet been born. Rockford’s conference record during that period was an astronomical 134-3.
Hundreds of athletes and their families have contributed to the streak. Coach Dave McWatters is quick to give them credit for sustaining the tradition. “The program’s success rests on the ‘three-legged stool’ of dedicated athletes, committed parents, and supportive school administration. We need all three legs to make the program work.”
Of course, McWatters, his staff, and their predecessors are the fourth leg. Together these groups have built a source of great pride for the Rockford community.
The 2009 seniors were honored at the Rockford pool Wednesday night. Zeeland came to town hoping to spoil the Senior Night festivities, but seniors Derik Bothma, Tyler Manikowski, Kyle Peterson and Connor Thelen rose to the occasion. They combined for 10 goals as the Rams pulled away in the second half to a final score of 12-3. The victory gives Rockford a 6-1 conference record and a share of the OK conference title.
“The seniors are always energetic and positive,” observed junior Jeff Schmitt. “They pump us up and get us going for every game, and never let us get down when things don’t go well. They provide great leadership for the team.”
The seniors had another opportunity to lead their team into battle as the Rams partnered with East Grand Rapids to host a weekend tournament with 16 top teams from around the state. Rockford’s deep talent pool allowed them to enter two teams into the contest. The A team finished fourth, the B team finished 12th. The Rams now set their sights on the district
championship tournament to be played at Rockford on October 23 and 24.