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What is Water Polo?

    By Erin Neustrom (U-M Water Polo ’23)

    What is Water Polo?

    A question that I have been asked more often than not during my 5 years at Michigan and a question that the majority of our team was not used to hearing before playing in college. 13 of the girls on our team are from California where the state has more water polo players than the other 49 states combined. Growing up in California, most kids start out swimming and then usually transition to water polo in middle school to play a team sport.

    Water polo in California is equivalent to hockey in the Midwest and when I arrived on campus at Michigan, it was a surprise that most people weren’t familiar with the sport. That being said, our team has a unique opportunity to grow the sport in the Midwest and allows us to be role models in the community. We have the opportunity to be a part of something that is so much bigger than ourselves while being a student-athlete at Michigan.

    For those that haven’t watched or played the sport here are some of the main aspects that make water polo one of the most unique sports in the world:

    – Players can’t touch the bottom of the pool and use an eggbeater technique in order to tread water.
    – There are 14 players in the pool, 7 on each team.
    – There is a lot that takes place under the water that the referees can’t see like kicking, scratching, and grabbing.

    – Players can only use one hand to pass and shoot the ball.

    – A game is 4 quarters with each quarter lasting 8 minutes.

    – College tournaments usually consist of 4-5 games during a weekend.

    When choosing a school that was thousands of miles away from family and friends there was comfort in knowing that there would always be a part of home with me because of my teammates. It’s not every day that you are going to find a team that has 9 girls that grew up within a 20-mile radius of each other, 3 of us having gone to high school together, 1 teammate having gone to my rival high school, and playing with many of my teammates’ older sisters throughout the years. Throughout all the good times and the bad, my teammates have always been the ones to truly make Michigan feel like home.

    As I finish my last two months at the University of Michigan and look back on the experience I have had, I feel so grateful for everything that water polo has given me. I have been surrounded by amazing teammates and families from all over the world. I have had the opportunity to get an education from a phenomenal institution while learning from my fellow classmates. We may not have the most fans in the stands at our games or the biggest following but we are still given the amazing opportunity to play the game we love at the greatest university in the world. Go Blue!

    — Erin Neutrsom (U-M Water Polo ’23)

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