This summer, the Spartan Water Polo Club participated in the Junior Olympics at Stanford University in California. The club is the largest in Michigan, and the team that traveled to Stanford included boys and girls from both East Lansing and Okemos. Both school districts maintain their own boys and girls water polo teams during the school year, but the Spartan Water Polo Club is a separate and privately funded team.
According to Spartan board member Michelle Sneathen, “everybody in California plays water polo” and the competition is particularly intense. The Junior Olympics for the sport is held annually in either Stanford or Los Angeles, and offers teams from across the country the chance to compete, meet other players and improve their skills in a very physical and demanding sport. Team parents Sneathen and Eric Spicer agree that the California was hugely positive for their sons. “They met a great group of kids, including many from other schools” said Spicer.
The Spartan Club, which practices mainly at the East Lansing High School pool, has sent teams to compete in California since 2005. It is coached by Ron Marsh, also the coach of the East Lansing High School teams, and has teams for participants from first grade through adults. Coach Matt Latham accompanied the team to California in July, but has moved on to coach the sport at Michigan State University.
East Lansing freshman Zachary Sneathen emerged from the pool long enough to report that The Junior Olympics trip was “a great experience being with everyone and getting so much better.” He was particularly proud of having played the fifth-ranked team in the United States. He says he chose water polo because “I liked swimming, I was good at it and I wanted to try something new and see what I could do.”
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