Lady Reds Water Polo: The Most Youthful Team Yet

For those who don't know, water polo is an intense water-based sport that is best described as a combination of basketball, soccer, and mixed martial arts. The objective is simple: get the ball into the goal. Of course there are rules and expectations, but every team understands that there is so much more than the basic fundamentals. Including our Carthage College Lady Reds.

The 2018-2019 team is not much different than any other team in the conference, however, the one thing that sets this team apart from the rest is their youth. Carthage's 2019 roster is made up of seven freshmen and no seniors. Juniors Emma Jeronimus, Morgan Fingerson, and Heather Walker are the oldest members of the team and are expected to lead in more ways than one. Her Campus Carthage had the opportunity to sit down with team captains Emma and Morgan to hear what they had to say about this awesome sport.

HC: What made you want to play water polo in college?

EJ: After playing water polo throughout high school, I fell in love with the sport. Playing water polo helped me gain more friends and help me with time management. I felt that continuing water polo throughout my college career would help me adjust to college life.

MF: I originally had no intention of continuing my water polo career into college. But once I took a closer look at Carthage and had a chance to speak with some of the girls from the team, I knew it was going to be a great fit for me.

HC: When did you first start playing? What inspired you to play?

EJ: I first started playing my freshman year of high school. When I started swimming at the age of three, I always had a love for being in the water. When I started high school and finished the swim season, I took my friend from the polo team’s advice and trialed for water polo. When the coach first saw me, he had one look at my height and put me in goal, and from then on out I was a goalie. This was one of the best decisions I have made. Not only do I still get to train with swim sets, but I’ve also gained new skills in a fantastic sport that I originally never thought I would enjoy or be good at. Along with combining my skills in swimming with water polo, I’ve also gained an amazing set of friends and teammates who essentially became a second family.

MF: I first started playing water polo in my freshman year of high school. I had no idea what it was…at all. I decided not to do a fall sport because I no longer enjoyed running, so my parents told me I had to choose a winter sport. I read the list and none appealed to me, but I saw water polo and said sure, why not? I had been swimming competitively ever since I knew how to swim so I had that to my advantage. Once I started playing, I quickly fell in love with the sport. I played all throughout high school and was one of the captains my senior year. I’ve accomplished so much through water polo and I am extremely proud of the progress I have made along the way. I hold the record for most assists at my high school and I was awarded most improved by my coach last season. As well as finding a sport that I love, I found a small family inside of it.

HC: What do you think sets Carthage's water polo team apart from the rest?

MF: I think something that is particularly unique about our team is that we always become very close very quickly. Through early morning lifting, practice, and long bus rides to far away tournaments we bond instantly in no time.

HC: How does it feel to be the only representatives of your sport here on campus?

EJ: Being able to represent Carthage is a great pride. Walking down campus drive and people recognizing you for your achievements in water polo is always a rewarding feeling to have. Being able to represent the school and play the sport you love is a great honor to have.

MF: Being one of the few of us to represent this wonderful sport on campus is an honor, but is also very interesting. People will read my sweatshirt and say to me, “What even is water polo?” I get so much joy in trying to explain it in the best way I can and having the various people I meet in passing express their interest.

HC: What is your biggest motivation?

EJ: My biggest motivators are my parents, coach, and teammates. Without my parents cheering me on in the stands at every game, my teammates encouraging me in and out of the pool, and my coach pushing me to lift more or do an extra leg workout in the pool, I would not have improved as much as I have since freshman year.

MF: I have several influential people who motivate me in my life. My biggest motivators are my parents, my high school coach, and my closest friends. My mom is my biggest fan and without her support, I would not be half the athlete I am today. My high school coach, AJ Ferrill, still texts to check in with me, watches my games online and lets me know what I can do to improve. My closest friends always push me to keep going to make sure that I am the best player that I can be.

HC: What does being a captain mean to you?

EJ: To me a team captain means being responsible, setting a good example for your teammates, and pulling the team together. A team captain has to pull the team together no matter the situation. The attitude of the team captain sets the attitude of the rest of the team. If you’re calm and focused under pressure it’s easier for your teammates to stay calm and focused. A good captain can hold a team together through thick and thin, win or loss, and keep everyone’s eye on the prize!

MF: Being a good team captain means paving the way for everyone and setting a good example. A team captain is supportive through the good and the bad games, being there for everyone after a game regardless of how tough things might be for them personally. I always make sure to let everyone know that I am there to support them in and out of the pool. As a captain, it is also my responsibility to push every girl on my team to be the best that they can be.

HC: What advice do you have for women entering college who are interested in playing water polo?

EJ: Give the college experience a chance. While it may be rough in the beginning, if you allow yourself to look at the positives of being at college rather than the negatives, you will find your experience in the first few months to be a lot more enjoyable. Get involved with clubs or student government and go to events at your school to make new friends and get comfortable with your new environment. If you’re interested in playing water polo, reach out to the coach. The team would love to meet you and show you the ins and outs around campus. Playing water polo allows you to gain more friends while doing the sport you love.

MF: College is more fun when you have a great group of girls surrounding you while being able to play the sport that you love. The transition from high school to college can be a tough one, especially where you’re so far away from home like I am. Having my team by my side during my freshman year helped me through the adjustments that being in college brings. For any women interested in playing water polo, I would highly recommend doing so. You’re going to find some of the best friends you will ever have in your life.

HC: What advice do you have on being a student-athlete?

EJ: As a student-athlete, it’s important to have good time management, organization skills, and good relationships with your professors. Professors are like coaches, there needs to be sufficient communication and a strong relationship at all times in order to be effective. The more you communicate, the better they'll understand your commitments away from the classroom, allowing them to help with any assignments you may miss or need to hand in at a different time. When you are struggling with a class, no matter what stage of the academic journey you're at, it is always good to ask for help by utilizing tutors and support. Being a successful student-athlete is about being both a good student and a strong athlete.

We here at HCC are so grateful to Emma and Morgan for taking the time out of their busy schedule to sit down and provide some awesome answers to our questions. Best of luck with the rest of your season!

If you're interested in seeing the Lady Reds in action, click here for their schedule!