The boys and girls water polo squads of Pitman High are ready to put the past behind them and start fresh in 2014.
The boys ended up placing dead last in the Central California Conference in 2013 behind a very inexperienced roster.
“Last year I think we had some growth from the previous season, but I still think we had some skill deficit and it showed when we played in league,” said Pitman boys head coach Ryan Bullard.
On the girls' side, the Lady Pride finished fourth in the CCC, missing out on the postseason.
“It was not our goal to finish fourth, outside of our league we played very well, but in our league games we could not get it together,” said Pitman girls head coach Michaela Solario.
After the first week of practice, Solario is very hopeful and optimistic about the season ahead and has taken a different approach on things.
“I took a different coaching approach this year,” Solario said. “I am hoping that all the planning, added with my girls' hard work and dedication throughout the off season, will aide us with a great season overall.”
This year the team is also very young, although they are anchored by five seniors, including one first-timer. Nine juniors are newcomers to the varsity level for Solario’s team.
“This team adds a new and exciting dynamic since most of them played together this summer,” Solario said.
The team’s captains and leaders will consist of Kim Canisso and goalkeeper Jessica Kern.
“Being cocky out the gate isn't really my style, but at this point we are starting off way ahead of where we were at this point last year,” said Solario. “We are not only developing ourselves in the pool, but we are also taking our skills to the classroom and broadening ourselves there as well.”
The team’s ultimate goal for the year is to be physically and mentally prepared to tackle this upcoming season, Solario said.
“We are grabbing the bull by the horns, or should I say lion, but I'm very proud and excited for the 2014 season for this team,” she added.
The boys had been working on their team for the past two seasons, rebuilding but—yet again—the Pride failed to provide a winning season behind a very inexperienced group in 2013.
For coach Bullard, the team is made up primarily of juniors and seniors adding the total to 20 on this year’s roster.
“We have a large group returning,” Bullard said. “Overall, our weakest area has been with speed — one of the things we didn’t have really, but we return a lot of past guys which is what we needed to make improvements for this year.”
Coach Bullard is working on the speed of his team by timing their 100 meter swims and this year the team has dropped their average time by seven seconds combined, which is a huge growth spurt he said.
“We have had two rough years and lot of it was youth and inexperience and this is the year it will pay off for those kids and they will win and we should see a winning percentage increase,” Bullard said.
After failing to finish off games and making a lot of mental errors that come with growing pains, the 2014 team is looking like they should be competing for a CCC title.
“Now we're hitting the part where we have had some varsity guys on the team for a solid amount of time,” Bullard said.
Of these guys, Tanner Day, Allan Quinn, Alex Selee, Joshua Buck and last year’s second team all-conference selection Nathan Olson, will be leading the Pride to a potential playoff push.
“We are really looking for those five guys who have had close games experience to step it up,” Bullard added. “We now have that experience.”