Rockford Rams Water Polo Team

Rams repeat as state water polo champs

November 18, 2010 // 0 Comments

The dynasty continues. Rockford entered the Michigan Water Polo Association state championships at West Zeeland, who was ranked fourth in the state, on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 12-13. But by the time the final whistle blew, the Rams were once again on top, claiming their second consecutive state championship, their seventh in eight years, and their eighth in 11 years. Four Rams received All State honors. Junior Bryan Wasberg and senior Jeff Schmitt were named second team All State, while junior Eric Chisholm and senior Pat Fase were named first team All State. In addition, Fase’s stellar goalie play throughout the weekend earned him a share of the tournament’s Most Valuable Player award. “I’m so proud of every member of the team,” beamed Fase. “We had a small senior class to provide leadership, but it was the underclassmen, including the entire bench, who did the hard work it took to win the championship.” Rockford opened the tournament with a convincing 9-2 win against a scrappy team from Ann Arbor Pioneer. Six different Rams scored goals, including two each by Wasberg, Chisholm and junior Alex Savage. But it was the Ram defense, led by Chisholm with three steals, and Fase’s goaltending that made the difference. In the semifinals, Rockford squared off against the top ranked team in the state, Ann Arbor Huron. The River Rats feature the state’s top scorer, senior David Hasegan, the other co-MVP of the tournament. Rockford jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the first period. But Huron, on the strength of two quick goals by Hasegan, stormed back to take the lead in the second. After a Rockford timeout, Chisholm drove to the net, took a pass from Savage, and flipped in an amazing no-look shot to tie the score. The next time down the pool, Chisholm found Schmitt open for a score that restored the Rockford lead. Huron scored three more goals, but Rockford answered each time, and hung on for an 8-7 victory. The story of the game was the team’s defense on Hasegan. Wasberg wrestled with him for most of the game, with Chisholm sprinting back on defense to help out, collecting five steals for his efforts. And when the defense didn’t hold, Fase made several brilliant stops […]

Rockford water polo achieves academic success

November 11, 2010 // 0 Comments

As they prepare to defend their state water polo title on November 12, thirteen Rockford Rams took time out to receive Academic All State honors from the Michigan Water Polo Association (MWPA). Eight of the honorees are juniors: Cody Brown, Nick Dulak, Mac Finnie, Allyn Kinney, Alex Savage, Matt Vermeer, Josh Waldvogel and Bryan Wasberg. Five are sophomores: Mike Arend, Trenten Babcock, Grant Beach, Corey Fase, and Nick Willison. “We are proud of our student-athletes at Rockford High School,” said Athletic Director Tim Erickson. “Notice the word ‘student’ precedes the word ‘athlete.’ That is our philosophy: student first. Coach McWatters and the water polo team provide a perfect example of this philosophy.” MWPA Academic All State athletes must have a 3.75 cumulative grade-point average (GPA) after completing at least a full year of high school. All 13 boys meet that benchmark; several of them with a GPA higher than 4.0. “We are very proud of the student participation rate in our Rockford High School athletic program,” noted Principal Dan Zang. “More important than the scoreboard, conference standings, and pursuit of state championships, however, is our students’ performance in the classroom. We are fortunate to have student-athletes who truly understand that classroom performance is more important than what happens in the playing arena. Having our coaches appreciate and value this perspective is vitally important as well.” Coach Dave McWatters agreed, “Half of our team is Academic All State! This achievement represents our greatest hope for these young men: that their experience as part of Rockford water polo will enrich their lives long after they graduate. These young men and others are able to respond to the demands of the sport and also achieve academic excellence. That will serve them well for years to come.”

Rams take second at water polo regional

November 4, 2010 // 0 Comments

Rockford moves on to defend state title  The Rockford boys water polo team claimed second place in the Michigan Water Polo Association (MWPA) West Regional championship held at East Kentwood High School last weekend. The Rams now move on to the MWPA state tournament, where they will need three wins against top opponents to repeat as state champions. Four Rams received All Region honors. Junior Bryan Wasberg received honorable mention, while junior Eric Chisholm, senior Jeff Schmitt and senior Pat Fase were named First Team All Region. Rockford opened the tournament Friday afternoon, Oct. 29, by trouncing an overmatched West Ottawa club 18-4. Ten different Rams scored goals, led by freshman Craig Wasberg with three. Rockford’s team defense, with junior Allyn Kinney leading the way, smothered the Panthers. Saturday morning, Oct. 30, the Rams faced Jenison in the semifinals. In a game eerily similar to their district match from a week earlier, the Rams once again found themselves up 4-3 in the waning moments of the first half. The Wildcats lined up for a penalty shot with just 35 seconds left in the half, but Ram goalie Pat Fase made the stop to preserve Rockford’s lead. Jenison didn’t threaten again. The Rams added two third-period goals and rode their defensive strength to a 6-3 victory. B. Wasberg and Jeff Schmitt led the scoring with two goals apiece. Wasberg and Chisholm each made three steals on defense. “Stopping a penalty shot involves a little luck,” admitted Fase after the game. “As the shooter wound up, I sensed he was aiming to my right. I just dove that way and was able to get a hand on the ball. If they had scored there, they would have had a lot of momentum going into the half, and it probably would have been a different game.” The regional finals provided a rematch of the district finals, with the Rams facing familiar foe East Kentwood, but this time in the Falcons’ pool. After a few tense, scoreless minutes, Chisholm took a pass from junior Alex Savage and found the back of the net to give the Rams a 1-0 lead. The Falcons answered immediately, however, setting the tone for a see-saw first half that ended with Rockford clinging to […]

Rams claim 18th straight conference water polo title

October 21, 2010 // 0 Comments

Rockford defeated Grand Haven last Monday, Oct. 11, in an OK conference boys water polo match. The Rams are now a perfect 7-0 in the conference with one only more game to play. And, because undefeated Jenison was upset by Grandville last week, the Rams are guaranteed at least a share of the conference title. Rockford (31-6 overall) has now won or shared the title for an amazing 18 years in a row! To put that in perspective, the last time someone other than the Rams won the OK conference was 1992, the year a little-known Arkansas Governor named Bill Clinton was running for president against George H.W. Bush. Dave McWatters, now in his 13th year as head coach of the Rams, has built an impressive program that consistently produces strong teams. “We strive to be in the thick of things every year,” said McWatters. “Other teams seem to rise and fall based on a good class or two moving through. But we’ve tried to build a foundation that allows us to be competitive year in and year out.” The Grand Haven game illustrated McWatters’ point. The Buccaneers were regional champions last year, but have struggled to perform at the same level this year, having lost their top players to graduation. The Bucs came to town Monday night and were able to keep the game close in the first period, but the Rams’ depth and strength was simply too much for them. Rockford rolled to a 15-4 victory. The Rams’ balance was on display—seven different players scored goals, nine contributed assists, and 15 Rams combined for 32 steals. Junior Nathan Napolillo led the way with a tremendous all-around effort: five goals, two assists, and five steals. Rockford now hosts Jenison (6-1 in the conference) in the final regular season game of the year on Tuesday, Oct. 19. A Jenison win would give the Wildcats a share of the conference title. But a Rockford win would make the Rams the outright champs. “Jenison beat us in a tournament early in the year,” recalled junior Alex Savage. “Ever since then, we’ve been looking forward to facing them in our pool in this final game of the season.” According to McWatters, “Everything in recent weeks has been building […]

Rams capture third in state in women’s water polo

June 10, 2010 // 0 Comments

When the Rockford women’s water polo team fell 5-7 to Hudsonville in a physical back-and-forth battle for the west regional championship on May 22, the team knew their road to the state title would be increasingly more difficult. The Lady Rams’ second seed placed them in a bracket with undefeated and state champion favorite Okemos and set them up for a tough round-one game against Ann Arbor Huron, a team they had not faced all season. Rather than intimidate the Rams, their daunting task fired them up. This young team with only five seniors had improved significantly all season, and their goal was to bring their “A game” and step up their defense—a weapon of which coaches throughout the state had taken notice. Round one Friday night, June 4, against the Huron River Rats kept the huge crowd packed in the Saline natatorium on the edge of their bleachers. The score went back and forth throughout the entire game, with the Rams down by two with seconds ticking off to end the first half until a mid pool shot brought them to 6-7. In the second half, the Lady Rams picked up their defensive effort, and held Huron scoreless in the third quarter, while scoring two. As the fourth quarter advanced, the Rams poured on the offense, with sophomore Casey Wolfer finding the back of the cage four times. With a two-goal lead with 2:59 left on the clock, victory was within their grasp. The River Rats weren’t ready to quit, and quickly scored another goal. With just seconds on the clock, they stole the ball in front of the Rams’ goal and nearly landed a game-tying goal. Junior goalie Tiffany Elenbaas would have nothing of it and finished the game, securing 12 saves, two critical steals and one assist. Wolfer led the team in scoring with a career high seven goals and one assist. Offense also came from Christina Weston (two goals, one assist), Natalie Beeg (one goal, three assists), Ashley Gremel (one goal, three assists), and Holly Nauta (one goal). Junior Erica Finlayson also had a critical assist. The Rams’ Friday night victory paired them up against the undefeated Okemos Chiefs Saturday morning. Beeg, Nauta and Wolfer found the net in the first […]

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