by CINDY M. CRANMER Some Rockford players recently were named to the All-American teams honoring them with national recognition in the sport of water polo. Rockford High School boys and girls both have had many successful seasons in their history. During the last 12 years, the high school boys’ team won eight of 12 state championships. Dave McWatters, who is the Rockford High School boys coach, was instrumental in starting a girls’ water polo team at Rockford as well. A former player, Scott Boltz, who was the goalie during the first state championship in 2000, now is the girls’ team coach. Water polo combines the elements of many other sports played in the water. The sport has elements of soccer, lacrosse, basketball, hockey and swimming. Each team has a goalie and six field players, who all swim throughout the game played in a deep pool, and try to score on the other goal. Players can only use one hand to field the ball or pass other than the goalie. Two members of both the Rockford High School boys’ team and girls’ team recently were named to the All-American teams. “This is quite an honor to make All-American,” McWatters said. “These are great awards.” “This is an accomplishment all four of them should be proud of,” McWatters said. While Rockford now has 30 students who have made the boys All-American teams, McWatters said it is still an honor chosen for team members by opposing coaches nominations. Boltz said about 20 girls have made the All-American teams in Rockford’s history. “We don’t want to lose sight that each one has taken a lot of work to earn,” McWatters said. “This is an honor and accomplishment for these students.” Eric Chisholm, a graduating senior in 2012, made the first team this year. There are five All-American teams with about 22 players listed per team or approximately 110 people who are honored. The first team would be the top players in the nation. “So, it’s fair to say Eric is one of the top 22 players in the nation,” McWatters said. Chisholm, who was named as an All-American last year as well, will be attending Michigan State University on a swimming scholarship. Justin Hulsebus, who will be a senior, […]
If senior co-captain Eric Chisholm was nervous about starting the state tournament schedule, he surely did not show it. Chisholm led the Rockford men’s water polo team as they began their state tournament run Friday night, Nov. 11, against Ann Arbor Skyline. “It is my senior year, my last state tournament; I did not want to let the team down,” Chisholm said. Chisholm scored Rockford’s first goal and then 20 seconds later threaded a beautiful pass to hole-setter Grant Beach, who pushed it into the net. The Michigan High School Water Polo Association state tournament pitted the top eight teams from around the state competing at Saline High School. The team claiming the state title would have to win three straight games. The Rams (42-2), the number-one-ranked team in the state, opened Friday evening with a 14-2 victory over the Eagles of Ann Arbor Skyline. The win set up a state semifinal grudge match between the Rams and the Ann Arbor Huron River Rats Saturday morning. The Rats are the only team to defeat the Rams this season, and are led by talented Serbian exchange student Aleksandar Petrovich. The match between the Rats and Rams was high on passion, emotion and drama. Saturday morning, in front of a standing-room-only crowd, the River Rats and Rams squared off in a contest proving to live up to the hype. Both teams played with focused intensity in a tightly contested first quarter. Petrovich gave the River Rats a 1-0 lead as the first period came to an end. In a back-and-forth battle, the Rams and Rats traded goals and ended the half with a 4-3 River Rat lead. The Rats exploded in the third period behind Petrovich, ending the period with a commanding 9-4 lead over the Rams. The Rams refused to give in, opening the fourth period by scoring two quick goals. As the River Rats slowed their play to work on the clock, the Rams continued a thrilling comeback by scoring a total of five goals in the fourth period. The River Rats were able to score one goal in the fourth period on a five-meter penalty shot, which turned out to be the deciding goal as the Rats held on to win a thrilling 10-9 […]
The “Shootout at the Shore” water polo tournament took place this past weekend, Friday and Saturday, Sept. 9-10, at pools in Grand Haven and Holland West Ottawa with 16 teams from around the state of Michigan. Rockford men’s water polo sent two teams with a total of 30 polo players to compete at the Shootout. The tournament was divided into four divisions, with the two squads from Rockford each winning their respective flights. A tremendous amount of polo was played by the squads. The Rockford A team played twice on Friday, finishing their last game at 10:30 p.m. and had to be back at the West Ottawa pool Saturday for a 9:40 a.m. game. This is the third year for senior Mack Finnie to play in the Shootout. He enjoys the tournament and stated, “I look forward to the Shootout at the Shore, and the amount of polo played allows us the opportunity to work on team chemistry.” Both Rockford squads played selfless team water polo. Junior Nick Willison said, “The tournament is a chance for us to work on and strengthen all parts of our team.” For the Rockford A squad, sophomore Craig Wasberg led the team with 14 steals, and junior Nick Willison led the team in assists with seven. Junior Grant Beach and Wasberg both scored 10 goals to lead the team. Leading the Rockford B squad in scoring was senior Nick Dulak with 13 goals. Both teams played with intensity and tenacity. The depth and balanced team effort on the squads served Rockford well as they fought their way through opposite brackets in the 16-team pool. Both squads racked up records of 4-0. The perfect records meant that the two squads would have faced off against each other in the tournament finals. In the end, the decision was made to congratulate both teams and not play an inter-squad championship.
Boys water polo season is underway, and Rockford is off to a solid start with an 8-1 record. The Rams won a tournament hosted by East Lansing the weekend of August 19-20, and finished second in their own tournament the weekend of August 26-27. At the East Lansing tournament, the Rams defeated Ann Arbor Skyline and three top teams from Ohio (Columbus St. Charles, Toledo St. Francis, and Upper Arlington). At their own tournament, Rockford defeated Okemos, Jenison, Birmingham Seaholm, and Ann Arbor Pioneer, before losing to the River Rats of Ann Arbor Huron in the finals. This early season success isn’t necessarily a surprise. Having lost only four graduating seniors from the team that won the last two state championships, the Rams are expected to be a very good team this year. But those high expectations bring with them some additional challenges. “Every team will play their best against us,” assured Coach Dave McWatters. “We’ll be working this year to develop the mental toughness required of a team that everyone is aiming for.” Senior captain Alex Savage thinks the team is ready for the challenge. “We don’t mind having a target on our backs,” he said, “because the pressure will force us to become a better team. We want to become a strong team—a relentless team—that plays aggressively on both offense and defense.” Rockford’s other senior captain, All-American Eric Chisholm, hopes the team develops a solid reputation around the state. “We want to be known as a team that never gives up or slows down, that keeps attacking, and that always plays aggressively,” he said. One of the team’s greatest assets this year is its tremendous depth. With a full varsity roster of 20 experienced players, the Rams will often be able to enter two teams in weekend tournaments in order to give more players quality playing time. Coach McWatters said, “I’m thankful to the school administration for the support that allows us to develop depth by entering multiple teams in top tournaments against the best teams. We’re benefiting this year from all the playing time the boys received last year.” Chisholm added, “Our depth is really helpful because whenever the starters need rest we can put in another wave of players that we […]
Over 150 male swimmers from seven West Michigan area high schools competed at the annual freshman/sophomore meet in Grandville on Saturday, Feb. 5. Last year the Rams came out victorious with their first win in seven years. However, this year it was the Hudsonville Eagles that came out on top, with Rockford finishing in second place. Hudsonville placed first with 482 points, followed by Rockford (379), Jenison (294), Grandville (252), East Kentwood (231), Grand Haven (222), and Holland West Ottawa (162). Despite the loss, the young Rams put forth a tremendous effort with numerous top-16 scoring finishes and several Rams swimming their fastest times of the season. The top 16 individual scorers for the Rams were: • 200-yard free: Mike Arend (second), Reese Patino (ninth), Dylan Dick (14th), Kurtis Loux (15th) • 200-yard IM: Trenton Babcock (first), Nick Willison (third), Corey Fase (10th) • 50-yard free: Chris Lemoine (12th) • 100-yard fly: Craig Wasberg (first), Corey Fase (10th), Jacob Davis (11th) • 100-yard free: Mike Arend (fourth), Justin Hulsebus (10th), Chris Lemoine (14th) • 500-yard free: Stephan Cress (sixth), Kurtis Loux (ninth), Dylan Dick (12th) • 100-yard back: Craig Wasberg (first), Nick Willison (second), Stephan Cress (ninth), Justin Hulsebus (11th), Reese Patino (15th) • 100-yard breast: Trenton Babcock (second), Kyle Hams (sixth), Tyler Vanderhaag (15th) Rockford placed second in all three relays: • 200-yard medley relay: Willison, Babcock, Wasberg, Davis (1:44.68) • 200-yard free relay: Lemoine, Davis, Hulsebus, Arend (1:40.89) • 400-yard free relay: Arend, Willison, Babcock, Wasberg (3:26.15) The Rockford divers, Noah Markel and Shane Phillips, finished in third and eighth places for the Rams, with a final score of 288.80 and 234.40 points respectively. This week, many of these young Rams will join the Rockford juniors and seniors to face off in a dual meet against East Kentwood at the Falcons’ home pool on Thursday, Feb. 10 at 6:30 p.m. Both teams still remain undefeated in the OK Red conference.