When Coach JJ Addison was named coach of the year at the Division III Eastern Championship, it was the fitting end to what has been a season of progress for Connecticut College’s men’s water polo team. “This is a testament to how hard he’s worked this season,” said Hanh Je ’11. The success the water polo team has had this year started with their coach, and how they feel about him, but it certainly did not end there.
The water polo team does not have a winning record, but there seems to be a new positive attitude that has caught onto the entire squad. “Four wins don’t reflect how much we’ve improved,” said Je. Improvement seems to be the greatest theme to the team’s assessment of its season. Though Je is graduating this year, he is happy to be ending his Connecticut College water polo career this way, saying that “It has been a fantastic senior season.” Connor O’Brien ’11 feels the same way. He says that, record aside, “We’ve gotten better, better and better.” Neither senior can emphasize enough the differences in the team from years past.
When asked what he thinks has changed, O’Brien said, “Everyone is more serious, and that’s really a good thing.” O’Brien mentions a third-place finish in the Division III Eastern Championship as one of the highlights of the season. However, the main highlight of the season was clearly the two wins over Washington and Jefferson College of Washington, Pennsylvania. Je said, “Beating Washington and Jefferson twice was the icing on the cake.” He added, “We have never beaten them as long as I’ve been here, and they are our biggest rival.” O’Brien mentioned the first Washington and Jefferson win was a sign that this season was going to be different than years past. “That was really a big game for us.” It’s clear that the Washington and Jefferson win meant almost as much symbolically as it did as a “W” on the team’s record.
The seniors on the team include Je, O’Brien and Carson Miller. While they will no longer be Connecticut College students next fall, they will always be fans of Connecticut College water polo. They see the improvements made this season as seeds planted for a future of team unity, improved work ethic and overall success. “We are only graduating three seniors. We are a young team, and we are only going to grow. The future looks absolutely bright,” Je said. One thing that the water polo team would like is more publicity. “Hopefully next year we’ll be getting a lot of attention,” said Je, adding that he meant both team attention and personal attention for the players.
It is fitting that Je and O’Brien had to stop answering questions due to the fact that they had a team dinner to attend. They and all of the water polo team have something to celebrate, and the youngest members of this vastly improved squad have much to look forward to. “Make sure to wish the team good luck in the future for me,” Je said before leaving for dinner. “Give them a little shout-out.”
Photo from: http://www.collegiatewaterpolo.org/news/2009-10/072910ConnCollege2010Sched