In addition to winning their 13th State Championship in the past 18 years, the Rockford Varsity Men’s Water Polo team recently received more Academic All State honors than any other water polo team in Michigan. An impressive 18 of Rockford’s 24 post-season players were named to this list for the 2017 season.
This honor was also the final, crowning achievement for this year’s large and extremely successful graduating class of thirteen seniors. Every senior on this year’s team earned Academic All State recognition.
To be named Academic All State, players must maintain a 3.75 GPA on the unweighted 4.0 scale. Rockford players achieving 2017 Academic All State honors were Kyle Arend, Ryan Baker, Zach Burns, Asher Chino, Josh Corder, Kyle Dedert, Ryan Dulak, Sean Martella, Cole McAnelly, Gavin McIntyre, Spencer Nestle, Jacob Newberger, Gavin Saur, Ben Schuchardt, Jack Sikkema, Paul Sikkema, Beckett Vigh and Derek Zahnleuter.
The Rockford Men’s Water Polo team has a long history of academic excellence, having also placed sixteen players on this list the past two years, and having had no less than eleven players receive Academic All State honors each year since 2010. Additionally, several of Rockford’s players also received Academic All American honors earlier this year from USA Water Polo, the National Governing Body and Olympic Development Path for water polo in the United States.
“Our team’s legacy of success is due to the hard work our players do in both the pool and the classroom” observed Head Coach Jon Haga. “When you have a team with a high polo IQ as well as a high academic IQ, we can throw a lot at the competition and be confident that our guys can execute.”
The benefit of a high team IQ was especially evident in this year’s final State Championship game. “When we were down by two points with just 44 seconds left, it wasn’t our athleticism I was counting on to make a miraculous comeback” said Haga. “It was our abundant mental preparation, our ability to handle complex strategies, and our grit that enabled us to tie and eventually win that game.”
Haga added, “These young men are true student athletes who succeed at the highest level in both sports and academics. The fine example put forth by this team, and especially this year’s seniors, extends far beyond water polo and high school.”