Canberra Water Polo Athlete, Lauren Brennan, has just spent her first 4 months at US College, Hartwick College and has written a report on her experiences thus far. We would like to thank Lauren for taking the time to write the report below.
Wick Life – Lauren Brennan
I have been in the US for a little over three months now and I have enjoyed every second. I met up with my team in California for a week of training and games before travelling back to the quiet small town of Oneonta, New York. Hartwick is located on a hill in Oneonta and is about three and a half hours away from New York City. We were delayed in California due to snow storms on the East Side and arrived two days after classes started. This meant that I was thrust into college life very quickly and had to adjust into a routine of lectures, training and travelling every weekend for games.
The daily routine typically involves gym in the morning, followed by classes or study throughout the day and finished up with either a three or two and a half hour practice. These water sessions involved a lot of swimming with the first hour to hour and a half dedicated to a moderate to hard swim set. The rest of the session often involved the use of weight belts during tactical sessions and skill practice. These sessions were both mentally and physically draining. The college system still plays with 6-6 rules, so it was strange going back to it after playing 5-5 for so long.
I noticed straight away once I started playing that the game was slightly different here compared to back in Australia. The most notable of these things was the physicality, particularly in centre there is a lot more grabbing and holding compared with Australia. The Hartwick game plan involved significantly more driving and counter attack than any other team I have played in, with defences being splits and jumping to get quick counters.
Every weekend we would travel for various games all over the country. We visited universities in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and New York, even going all the way to Arizona for the annual Arizona State University Sun Devil tournament during Spring Break. During this week off school in Arizona we had a bit of down time and one day we drove as a team to Slide Rock. A National Park with a water feature, even though it was the middle of winter we all got into the water and had a blast.
The culmination of the season was the Collegiate Water Polo Association conference finals which were held at Princeton, New Jersey on the Anzac Day weekend. Hartwick was ranked 5th going into the finals and we were to face Harvard in the first quarter final. We played a great game and earned our place in the semi-final to face hosts Princeton. Unfortunately, the Princeton team with their US national keeper halted our bid for the conference title and we were to meet Michigan University in the bronze medal game. A super close game that went to overtime saw Hartwick take out the bronze medal. The atmosphere of the finals series was very exciting and it was great to end the season on such a high.
Overall I have had an amazing time, learnt a lot, played some great polo and made great friends. However, there is no place like home and despite all the fun I had it was a relief to come home. It will be nice to be at home for a few months before leaving again for a much longer stretch. I am looking forward to going back and creating even more memories.