Northwestern Club Water Polo discusses path to forming women’s team, winter tournament win

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Courtesy of Northwestern Club Water Polo

The women of NU’s Club Water Polo team at this year’s “Wild Bill Classic” at the University of Illinois.

Isabelle Sarraf, Development and Recruitment Editor

When Olivia Everhart joined Northwestern’s Club Water Polo team her freshman year, she knew something was missing.

The SESP senior, along with four other female teammates, played in the men’s Collegiate Water Polo Association league. The co-ed team has had many successful seasons, including a second-place finish in 2016.

Everhart said she and other female teammates decided they wanted to separate and form their own women’s team. However, she said they didn’t have the numbers to form a seven-member starting lineup, let alone enough substitutes to perform well in competitions.

But this winter, the co-ed team recruited enough women to host a women’s-only game.

“This year has been really exciting to see how this team has grown,” Everhart said. “(They’re) going to take a lot of the effort that we’ve done so far and carry it forward next year.”

SESP senior Rebecca Schumm, also a member of the co-ed team, said the journey toward forming an all-women’s team has not been an easy one.

When she joined the team as a freshman, Schumm said she and her fellow female teammates were granted less playing time and recognition during tournaments despite better attendance at practice than their male teammates. She added that women on the co-ed team stopped attending the men’s tournaments this fall, instead focusing on recruiting more women and evaluating whether to form a separate women’s team in the spring.

The team discussed trying to join the Big Ten Women’s League, Schumm said, of which seven conference schools are currently members. Last year, they started a GoFundMe page in order to raise money to send the team to tournaments, but she said the team came up short in covering transportation costs.

The club season ended early due to coronavirus concerns, and Schumm expressed concern about what the team’s future holds.

“Now with coronavirus, (the fate of) a lot of these club teams are at stake, especially water polo, which is such a small sport,” Schumm said. “A lot of D3 and D1 teams are at risk of getting cut.”

Nora Chambers, a McCormick sophomore and member of the co-ed team, said she has high hopes for the future of a potential women’s team once students are allowed back on campus.

She said the women on the co-ed team played in their first solo tournament in Winter 2019, the University of Illinois’ “Wild Bill Classic.” Though they came last in the tournament and went 0-4, she said it was a great experience for the women on the team to gain practice playing against other women.

The team returned to the University of Illinois this February with new recruits and alumni of the team in tow. After spending much of the academic year training and practicing with a larger group, the women of NU Club Water Polo won the tournament with a 4-0 record.

“We do have a young team, which is nice because we’re not going to take big hits in (our roster) next year,” Chambers said. “Hopefully, given the (win) this year, we have a lot of momentum going into the fall.”

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