For the past couple years the girls water polo team at Gig Harbor (WA) has been the state’s best. On April 25 Enumclaw, with only nine girls on the roster, ended Gig Harbor’s 46-game winning streak and placed themselves among the favorites to win the state championship. Coach Bob Averill keeps fans up to date with his detailed blog but shared some of his time to email TWp about his squad’s one-loss season.
Your team has lost only once and has beaten state champion Gig Harbor, a team that hadn’t lost in 46 matches. Was this the kind of performance you expected from your girls this season?
We were just hoping to be competitive. Last year we lost a close one to Gig Harbor, and the girls have been working hard, and making a lot of progress, so we thought we had a chance. We had beaten Curtis, our State second-place finisher, the week before, and have felt pretty good about the way we’re playing.
Does Enumclaw have any natural rivalries? Is there any competition between regions, or even between Washington and Oregon?
Sometimes it feels like all our games are rivalry games. We have a lot of fun playing the three Auburn schools (Auburn, Auburn Mountainview, and Auburn Riverside), as they are the closest to us, and the kids get to know each other pretty well. We also have had some great games against Puyallup over the years, and we’ve always looked forward to the challenge of facing Wilson, Curtis, and Gig Harbor. Our kids see the Oregon teams in club play, but this was the first year our high school team has faced an Oregon team.
Your one loss this year came to Chehalem from Oregon. Was this a club team? [Oregon high schools play water polo in the Fall]
I think so. As I understand it, they had kids from a couple Newberg area high schools. They were pretty impressive.
What are some historical highlights you can share about Enumclaw girls water polo?
We’re a small town, about an hour from Tacoma, and one of the smaller schools in our league. It’s been exciting to enjoy so much success with such a small team. This year we only have nine girls, but they’re a dedicated bunch, and have worked hard. Our program has enjoyed a lot of success, and had great support from the school and the community. We finished as high as fifth in State (in 2007 & 2008) but hadn’t beaten Curtis or Gig Harbor until this year. Curtis and Gig Harbor have faced each other in our State Champion game as long as I can remember, so we feel like we’re in pretty rare company.
Tell us about your background? Where’d you learn your water polo?
I’m just a dad. I got involved when my daughter came home during her freshman swim season and said she was going out for water polo in the Spring. She had a great coach when she was a freshman and sophomore, but her junior year was a struggle, with several coaching changes, and no real leadership. At the end of that season, another dad (Ken DeMan) and I approached the athletic director to see what we could do to help the program. He asked if we would coach.
Ken and I had both coached other youth sports, but we were new to water polo, and hadn’t played when we were young. We had lots of help early on from other area coaches and officials, and we tagged along to other teams’ practices and clinics. We started in 2004, and have enjoyed it so much that we continued even after our kids graduated. We’ve really enjoyed the relationships we’ve developed with our kids, parents, and kids and coaches from other teams. I was hospitalized in 2010 with kidney failure, and was touched when I returned from my first dialysis treatment, to see my family and a room full of kids from the water polo team. They’re my extended family.