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Water polo squads look forward to a new CCC

Turlock’s Feaver has at least another year of coaching left to do

Water polo squads look forward to a new CCC

Turlock High water polo player Chris Callahan will play a huge roll this season, as he and other local players prepare for the 2010 season.


POSTED August 31, 2010 10:39 p.m.

It’s not easy to talk about Turlock High boys water polo without having Steve Feaver’s name float around in the discussion.

He is Turlock water polo.

He’s credited for introducing the sport to the Turlock community in 1973, when he became the Bulldogs coach. He’s admired by his current and former players, so much so that the school named its aquatic center after him. And let’s not forget that a number of past players have turned into coaches themselves, helping carry on Feaver’s philosophies.

But even Feaver doesn’t know when it’s all going to be over. A year ago, he retired as a teacher at Turlock High but decided to stay on as the water polo coach on a year-to-year basis. All that he knows is that he has at least one more year of being the face of the Bulldogs program.

“I’ve coach for so long it’s a part of who I am and part of my identity, I guess,” he said. “I enjoy doing it. I feel like I have something good to offer to the team.”

Feaver’s team is a contender for its 14th Central California Conference title.

This season, the league has a new look. Los Banos High no longer is in the CCC after league realignments sent the Tigers down to a lower division. The shift adds a unique circumstance for the remaining teams.

It means the CCC will be down from 12 matches to 10. Los Banos was considered one of the weaker squads in the league. And now that the Tigers are gone, the CCC competition is slimmer and more intense.

The Bulldogs are determined to be a league contender while Feaver is still around. Some key players include juniors Morely Baker and seniors Grant McNulty, Manny Bettencourt and Chris Callahan, who has the build and game to continue playing at the college level.

For the Pitman High girls team, it’s the start of a new era. Anne Cornell Is no longer the coach, though she’ll still be involved with the program in a smaller role.

In comes Doug Jones, an enthusiastic first-year coach who has been around the Pitman High program. He says it’s not the start of a new phase for the Pride, saying, “I don’t feel like I’m taking over. I feel like I’m just perpetuating it. I’m not looking at last season’s record. I’m not looking at next season’s record. I’m just focused on this team.”

Last season, the Pride turned in a 0-12 record in the CCC.

This season, they return a handful of players with starting inexperience — a list that includes Kristen Arnold, Sydnie Goldberg, Kyndel Fletcher, Paula Benavides and Victoria Alfano. They all aim for a turnaround.

It’s different for the Pride’s boys team, coach Drew Clute said. He believes this season’s players understand what type of coach he is. He demands their best.

“I need them to become big boys, and start playing how they can play,” he said. “If we stay as we are and progress as a normal team progresses, we’ll stay in the mix of things. We’re not a favorite by any means, but we’re not a doormat either. We’re a middle-of-the-road team that, I think, will compete in every game. Every game, we can win.”

Clute, in his third season as the head coach, also hopes to continue improving the program. Two years ago, the Pride finished 4-8 in the CCC and they were 5-7 last season.

The Turlock girls team might benefit most from this season’s new schedule.

Los Banos was one of the best teams in the CCC. With the Tigers gone, the league title could be anyone’s. The Bulldogs boast a talented group, led by three-year varsity player and goalie Carlee Souza and offensive threats Jacy Gustafson and Madeline Keesey. Haley Raynes, Melinda Johnson and Savanna Schaffer will also have key roles.

“What we have is strong,” Turlock coach Sonja Raynes said, “and I’m pleased with how well we play together.”

To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail csun@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.

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