New water polo club sport to make a splash

Soccer, tennis, softball and — water polo?

The University of Maine will be introduced to this club sport this month. Although water polo is popular in many other regions, it does not seem to have the same following here in Maine.

Melissa May, a school of marine science graduate student, is originally from California. She completed her undergraduate studies at Northern Arizona University where she competed on the women’s club water polo team which consisted of over 30 members. May hopes to bring the love of the game to Maine.

“I’ve been wanting to play since I moved to Maine five years ago,” May said. “I found a few others who have played before, so we tried to meet at the Wallace Pool to throw the ball around, but we didn’t have enough people to play a game or even form a team.”

A water polo group was formed at the Bangor YMCA, which meets every Wednesday from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The downfall for students at UMaine is that the group costs money and they have to drive to Bangor. This led May to create a club for water polo at the university.

May is creating the club for people to play and have fun. Her goal is to get a team of 10 people and scrimmage the Bangor YMCA team on a weekly basis. Ideally, she wants to have this grow into something bigger so they can participate in tournaments and separate into men’s and women’s teams.

“My plan is to have practices twice a week in the evening at Wallace Pool,” May said. “At practice, we usually do a short swim set to warm up then we pass the water polo ball, do some drills, and at the end we try to scrimmage.”

Colby, Bowdoin and Bates colleges all have water polo club teams that could be possible scrimmage opponents. The club would have to fundraise for out-of-state tournaments.

Although the sport’s popularity in Maine is much smaller than other regions, May believes there is still enough interest at the university to form the club.

“There are a lot of students from out of state who have played and would like the opportunity to play at UMaine, as well as a number of students who are just curious to try something new,” May said. “Like any sport or club, there is a lot to be gained from it – you get to meet new people, you learn about teamwork, you get to do something fun and active, and you get in shape.”

The club is co-ed and no experience is necessary. Anyone who can swim is welcome to join.

“Water polo can be very intense and requires a lot of swimming,” May said. “In a game, quarters are seven minutes while you are treading water or swimming hard the entire time.”

Players are not allowed to touch the bottom of the pool or hang on the wall. In a usual water polo game, quarters are seven minutes long while players are treading water or swimming intensely.

The club’s first meeting will be held Monday, Oct. 5. They currently are searching for a coach. Any students who are interested can email Melissa May on First Class.

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