Photo: Michelle Sneathen
The Holt High School and East Lansing High School combined boys’ water polo team (HOTEL) heads to the Michigan Water Polo Association’s East Region Championship tournament Friday, October 28, to try to win a spot in the State Championship tournament for the first time in the team’s history. The East Region Championship tournament will be held at Birmingham Groves High School in Beverly Hills, Mich. HOTEL, ranked ninth in the state (the team’s highest state ranking ever), will face Ann Arbor Huron High School, currently ranked seventh, at 7:45 p.m. HOTEL is currently the only top-ten ranked team in Michigan that is a combined team from two high schools, and this is only the second time HOTEL has won a spot in the East Region Championship tournament.
The team has had its best season ever—beating several teams across the state it had never defeated before (Jenison, Zeeland, Groves, Saline) and has a current overall record of 30 wins and ten losses. HOTEL defeated Troy United 17 to 3 and Birmingham Groves 9 to 8 in double overtime for its spot in the East Region Championship tournament. HOTEL played in the District 3 Championship Game on October 22 against Okemos (the number one ranked team in the state) and lost, giving HOTEL the number two seed in District 3. The other five high school teams (besides HOTEL, Ann Arbor Huron, and Okemos) competing in the East Region Championship are Dexter, Ann Arbor Skyline, Ann Arbor Pioneer, Birmingham Groves , and Birmingham Seaholm.
Water polo is consistently ranked as one of the most difficult sports in the world. The combination of contact, swimming, treading, and only being able to handle the ball with one hand, ensures that its successful participants have to spend a lot of time in the pool training. Most members of the HOTEL team swim and/or play water polo throughout the summer to stay in shape for the fall season. The sport is unique in Michigan as it is not administered by the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) like other sports found in Michigan High Schools. Some coaches feel this reduces participation in water polo, and it does sometimes disqualify its players from awards and recognition received in more mainstream sports.
HOTEL is coached by Ronald Marsh, who has coached swimming and water polo for over 39 years in Michigan, California, and Indiana, and is in his seventh year of coaching at East Lansing High School, and Brian Fickies, a co-founder of the Capital Area Water Polo Club who has coached water polo teams at all levels for over 20 years.
If HOTEL defeats Ann Arbor Huron, they will be one of eight teams vying for the State Championship in Hudsonville on November 11 and 12.
Cam Spicer (#10/Junior/East Lansing) goes for a steal. Photo: Shan Sweitzer
Will Kirkconnell (#17 Senior/Holt) looks for an opening to pass. Photo: Amy Kirkconnell
Matthew Eriksen (#1 Junior/East Lansing) denies Saline a goal. Photo: Amy Kirkconnell
Disclosure: Telaina Eriksen’s son is the Varsity Goalkeeper for the HOTEL water polo team.