Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Adventures into the Unknown

2010-2011 R.P.I. Women's Water Polo Team

As promised in the discussion of my epic weekend, a post dedicated to the RPI Women's Water Polo team. For some brief history with my involvement with the team, my friend Alex has been bugging me to join since sophomore year. I met her through swim club, a mutual friend, and a general love of being covered in chlorine. Sophomore year, I went to one practice. I tried again Junior year and became more accomplished by going to two. Senior year, I promised myself that I would stick with water polo. While I may dabble in many things, once I commit to something, I stick with it 110%. This year, the only practices I have missed have been due to illness or job interviews.

Apparently in previous years, we have not had enough girls on the team to compete on our own. In the fall, the Water Polo Team competed as a whole in a co-ed tournament at West Point. Our team has varying skill levels from hard-core kids who have played for years to some who just picked up the ball for the first time this year. This really adds to the accomplishment that I feel we have as a team. It is a challenge to get individuals to work well as a group; it is even harder if you are starting from scratch.

The chronicle of the tournament started on Saturday. We all met around 8 a.m. at the Union, which is a bit of an accomplishment to begin with since there were birthday parties and the 100 Days' Party the night before. Now, we left on time. It should have taken us around three hours to drive from Troy, NY to Syracuse. That estimate, however, is under normal weather and road conditions. That does not account for 40 mile per hour winds, blizzard white-out conditions, black ice, and the length of three exits being closed on the I-90. Needless to say, our voyage was epic, fitting with an epic weekend.

Heading westbound on the I-90, we had to take a long detour on Route 5 to get to Utica to join up with the highway again. Sometime when I was sleeping (14 hours of sleep for three days is not advisable), all traffic was forced off the I-90. Apparently, coupled with the conditions, a tractor trailer collided with a snowplow on the road. To quote my teammate Anna,
‎"A tractor trailer verses a snow plow?! Who wins? It's like a bear verses a tiger"

Who wins indeed? The answer, my friends, is no one.

With conditions being a death trap, we somehow arrived in Syracuse only to find that it's horrible in the winter. I can understand Portland being unprepared to deal with snow and ice, and subsequently, have horrible road conditions. We don't get either conditions a lot, but Syracuse? Your city is in upstate New York. In the winter. It's not like it hasn't been an established city since 1847 or anything. Apparently, Syracuse does not know how to plow their roads in a timely manner, despite it having some massive hills. Again to quote Anna,
Syracuse: the virgin city. It's never been plowed.

Ah the fair virgin indeed. Our driver, Heather, lives in Buffalo. She's been to the Midwest. I do not question her driving skills whatsoever, so if she can't navigate the roads, I don't really know who can. While attempting to find Syracuse University, we slipped and slid around many roads and somehow did not hit anything. We didn't even hit anything once we found the campus, got lost, and headed down a utility road.

At this point, I would just like to mention the image I have of Syracuse now. There is a spot on their campus, that in the winter, with snow coming down and 30 mph winds, looks exactly like what I picture the aftermath of a nuclear fall out to be.

Due to our late arrival, the game schedule had to be redone, which caused us to end up playing our first two games back to back. That is 56 straight minutes of polo if you don't have a sub. I ended up playing about 50 minutes. Go try sprinting in a pool for that long after being sleep deprived. It's hard. Needless to say, much of the team was exhausted after that ordeal, and the exhaustion resulted in trips into the cold for food, caffeine, and then naps. Never has a concrete bleacher been so comfy.

Our last game on Saturday was at 8 p.m. against Colgate. I can not go into extreme detail about this game since, well I find it difficult to reflect when you are sprinting. I will say that we did win. That was the Women's Water Polo Team's first ever victory and boy did it taste sweet.

Actually, victory tastes more like bread sticks, salad, lasagna and a pomegranate margarita martini. Victory dinner was at the classy establishment of Olive Garden. If I die tomorrow and am fortunate enough to step through the pearly gates of heaven, I hope it's filled bread sticks. I don't think I've eaten that quantity of bread since District's for Swim Team at Jesuit. Despite our team's five-year-old maturity level, our coach was proud, our hearts were happy and our stomachs were very glad most of us wore sweat pants.

Sunday, the second and last day of the tournament, we played our last game against Syracuse. While we lost, it was a very close game. It served a greater goal of team unity and a sense of how to play with one another. In addition, it gave us another excuse to gorge on food, this time at a second breakfast at Denny's. Our ride home was fairly smooth and uneventful, filled with scenic views and loud music from the 90s. An epic end to an epic weekend.

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