Rockford High School Water Polo Team

Rockford water polo athletes named All American

July 14, 2011 // 0 Comments

On July 4, the National Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association (NISCA) named Rockford High School athletes Casey Wolfer, Eric Chisholm and Patrick Fase Water Polo All Americans for the 2010-2011 school year. Fase and Chisholm helped lead the Rockford boys team to their eighth state championship this past fall, with senior goaltender Fase making 385 saves and junior attacker Chisholm leading his team defensively with 105 steals. Chisholm was also second on his team in goals with 81. Fase was named Co-MVP of the state tournament and Chisholm made First Team All State. Rockford boys water polo Coach Dave McWatters commented about Chisholm, “More important than the statistics is how Eric leads. Eric is loyal and optimistic, willing to sacrifice and pull his team together during the hard times. He provides an honorable role model and helps make the other players around him better athletes and better people.” Chisholm was named Third Team All American. Regarding captain Fase, McWatters said, “Every team plays their best game against us, and Pat’s steadfast leadership is one of the key reasons for our team’s success. He is always hopeful, always honest of the challenges, always intensely driven and always representing the best of sportsmanship and the best of Rockford.” Fase was named First Team All American. Fase and Chisholm are the 27th and 28th boys water polo All Americans for Rockford High School. Wolfer earned Third Team All American honors after garnering First Team All State awards during the season. After leading her team with 91 goals this year, she also anchored a stellar defense with 118 steals and was key to her team’s second-place finish in the state. Rockford girls Coach Scott Voltz had high praise for Wolfer, and said, “Casey is a very strong player who has the ability to take over a game whenever she wants to. Perhaps more impressive than her play in the pool is her commitment to education and her fellow students in the classroom. She currently maintains a 4.3 [grade-point average] and is active in numerous student groups. Casey is going to be very fun to watch next year.”  

Rams win seventh straight district water polo title

October 28, 2010 // 0 Comments

Rockford High School hosted the Michigan Water Polo Association (MWPA) West Region district championships last weekend, and the Rams emerged as West Region East District champs for the seventh straight year. Rockford has not lost a district game since the current postseason format was adopted by the MWPA in 2004.   The week began with Jenison visiting Rockford to play for the OK conference championship on Senior Night. Four Ram seniors, Pat Fase, Jared Martella, Jeff Schmitt and exchange student Victor Lima, were honored on this festive night. A highlight of the evening was a stirring a cappella rendition of the national anthem by junior goalie Matt Vermeer. The Wildcats came to town looking for a win and a share of the conference title. “We wanted to come out and play our best,” recalled Schmitt, “because we didn’t want to share the conference title with Jenison. I was especially pumped up knowing this was my last regular season home game.”   Schmitt’s energy resulted in two quick goals as Rockford sprinted to a 3-1 first period lead. Jenison closed the gap to 4-3 late in the second period before Schmitt and junior Eric Chisholm each scored in the final minute of the period to give the Rams a 6-3 halftime lead. But the game was too close for comfort, according to Schmitt. “We knew we needed to step it up in the second half, to focus on doing what we do best, and to have fun doing it.” Schmitt’s formula produced the desired results. The Rams exploded for six goals in the third quarter en route to a 14-3 victory and the outright conference championship—their 18th title in a row. Schmitt led all scorers with five goals; sophomore Nick Willison made five steals. The district tournament brought all West Michigan teams to Rockford High School for the weekend. Despite a sluggish start to their first game, the host Rams used their depth and strength to overpower East Grand Rapids 11-1. Junior Alex Savage led a stifling defensive effort, while Chisholm scored four goals. The district finals found the Rams facing rival East Kentwood in a game featuring the two best goalies in Michigan, Rockford senior Pat Fase and Kentwood junior Raheem Brown. Both teams came […]

USA Water Polo honors Rockford player

March 25, 2010 // 0 Comments

For the first time ever a Rockford athlete has been chosen by USA Waterpolo—the sport’s national organization—as Athlete of the Month. Conor Thelen was one of four seniors on the Rockford High School water polo team this season, and in an amazing tie-breaking move, all four contributed to the winning score, earning the team the state championship. Coach McWatters, proud of all his players, was compelled to nominate one to the organization for recognition. Conor Thelen has been a water polo and swim athlete since it was first offered for his class in middle school. Now there are swim programs for even younger students, but the dedication shown by this year’s team was unbeatable—literally. “I thought he was going to grow gills,” commented Maggie Thelen, his mother. Coach McWatters had nothing but praise for Thelen, and was quick to note that it takes a whole team to foster the kind of success and leadership for which Thelen was recognized. The wording on the USA Waterpolo website, submitted by McWatters says it all: Connor represents the best of the Rockford water polo tradition, a committed team player who sets the highest of standards in leadership and sportsmanship. Against the deepest and most challenging of competition, Connor has led his team to a 17th straight OK conference championship, the district title, and then, after taking third in regionals, to the Michigan state championship— the seventh in the last ten years. With :43 second to play in the state championship game, the scored tied 10-10, Connor rose to shoot, committing the goalie to the near side but instead passed the ball to his team’s two-meter player, who stepped out to shoot cross cage shot.  A perfect example of a great fake and great pass setting up the shot.  More important than any statistic is Connor’s immeasurable contribution to the team: demonstrating the power of resilience and perseverance through the toughest of times. He was able to lead a young team, gain their respect, and then when his team needed the play-maker with the pressure of the state title on the line, he rose to the challenge. Connor Thelen provides an excellent model for younger players to emulate. Maggie Thelen said the sport has done so much for Conor. As […]

Rockford water polo claims sixth straight district title

October 29, 2009 // 0 Comments

Rockford fought through a week of illness and some stiff competition to claim its sixth consecutive district water polo title Saturday, Oct. 24 at the Rockford High School pool. The Rams have not lost a game in a district championship tournament since the format was adopted in 2004. The boys now move on to the West Region tournament at East Kentwood, where they’ll work to qualify for the state championship tournament. “This was the toughest competition we’ve ever seen in the district tournament,” noted Coach Dave McWatters. “I salute the tough teams in our district—they came ready to play. And I congratulate the 2009 Rams for fighting through adversity and bringing Rockford another district trophy.” Rockford’s first opponent of the tournament was East Kentwood, who came in ranked number one in the state. Rockford’s swarming defense disrupted the Falcon attack, and the Rams built a 5-1 halftime lead. East Kentwood stormed back in the second half, but Rockford managed just enough offense to hang on for a 7-6 victory. Rockford’s defense made the difference with 28 steals in the game, including five by goalie Pat Fase, and four each by seniors Tyler Manikowski and Derik Bothma. Bothma led the team in scoring with four goals. The Rams then faced the number-one seed in the tournament and the number-five team in the state, the Grandville Bulldogs. Rockford and Grandville shared the OK conference title this year, so there was a little extra energy in the pool for this match. Grandville’s defense seemed to have Rockford out of sync for “It feels great to keep Rockford’s streak of district championships alive,” said a smiling Peterson. “I’m proud of the effort our entire team put forth. The tough teams we played made this weekend a real challenge. But even when we were down against Grandville, we fought back and won by working together as a team.”

Young Rockford water polo team learns tough lessons

September 17, 2009 // 0 Comments

    Early victories over Hudsonville, Troy Athens, and Troy put Rockford in the final four. The three games featured a balanced scoring attack by Rockford—every player contributed at least one goal. The Rams then squared off in the semifinals with rival Ann Arbor Pioneer. Four hard-fought quarters weren’t enough to decide a winner. Neither was a standard shootout. Finally, after several rounds of sudden-death shootout, Pioneer netted the win. East Kentwood then defeated Rockford 8-7 in the consolation game, giving the Rams a fourth-place finish in the tournament. “It was a tough weekend for us,” conceded senior Tyler Manikowski. “But we’re looking to bounce back next week.” Coach Dave McWatters isn’t discouraged by the week’s performance. The Rams suffered one-goal losses to three very good teams. “There are more quality teams in the state this year than ever before,” noted McWatters, “and the top teams are evenly matched. The key will be which team improves the most as the year progresses. I’m hopeful that our young team will pull ahead of some competitors.”