Karen Ambrose Hickey
With the fall season closing in, the Palo Alto girls water polo team has been working harder and harder every day to develop their team to see how they can surpass the outcome from last season.
Other than the four graduates the Vikings lost, the team will have most of their full starting lineup returning. Major returners include Chesnie Cheung (‘20), Al Lee (‘20), Sophie Kadifa (‘21), Lulu Gaither (‘21), and Hana Erickson (‘21).
Last season, the Lady Vikes concluded their season on a 10-17 overall record and 2-10 league record, not fulfilling the goals they had planned of league and CCS champs. Though, the team has kept their heads up and have a positive mindset of this season.
“This could be a very successful year for us because we have so many players who are still young and have so much potential,” Cheung said.
Since the graduating class left many big roles to fill, many former JV players have moved up to add their value to the team. In fact, most of the depth added to the team came from last year’s JV team.
During a recent team-building and planning session, the Vikings all set a number of goals for their upcoming season. They have set their sights on finishing top 3 in SCVAL, top 2 in CCS D1, and qualifying for the CCS Open Division. However, the team looks to enhance their team and individuals skills first.
“I am looking forward to seeing how much we have all improved since last season and learning how to work as a team again,” Lee said.
In preparation for this upcoming season, the team has taken on a number of workouts in and out of the water to lead them to the best physical and mental shape for their performance. Whether it’s nonstop laps up and down the lanes or double days that consist of both morning and afternoon practices, the team always comes together and makes these daily routines of practice and games a memorable experience.
“It’s inspiring to coach such a hardworking, committed group of athletes every day,” veteran coach Doug Stotland said.
The Lady Vikes are preparing for their first scrimmage verse Menlo School on Wednesday. However, they are looking forward most to the start of their league games, their top goal is to improve their record. Adding on to the rivalry, the team is most looking forward to playing against Los Gatos.
“We are ready to show them what Paly water polo is about,” Cheung said.