The girls of Michigan close out the 2011-2012 interscholastic high school water polo season with state championships June 1 and 2 where top ranked Rockford hopes to upend 2011 champions Okemos. With only one loss to a Michigan squad (Zeeland) this season, and a challenging non-Michigan schedule, the Rams are poised to become champions for the first time since 2008. Coach Scott Voltz gives his assessment of this season’s performance.
In 2011 you were runners up to Michigan State Champions, Okemos. Now you’re atop the rankings and currently favored to win the state championship. Is this the kind of performance you expected from your girls this season?
It’s tough to put expectations on the season (record and ranking-wise) because there are a number of good teams throughout the state and some great coaches who always produce results. I was very excited coming into the season with the talent that I knew was there, as well as the potential for improvement from last year.
We lost some key pieces including three All-State players who were keys to our success last year, so I knew there would be some holes to fill, but we’ve really had a number of girls step up and fill those positions nicely. Hopefully we’ll continue to see those improvements and have a positive finish to the year.
Which teams are Rockford’s most prominent or natural rivals? Are there particular games you look forward to each season?
Okemos has become a rival in recent seasons as we have lost to them in the state championship tournament each of the last two seasons, and they have gone on to win each time. We really look forward to playing them each year because, frankly – they’ve been the best, and we always strive to compete with anyone, anytime.
We definitely have some conference rivalries with Hudsonville, Jenison, East Grand Rapids, East Kentwood, and Zeeland, but we see those teams a number of times throughout the year, so the rivalries are often lessened by familiarity. We’ve really enjoyed playing Fenwick (Il.) the past few seasons. We know that they are a great team, so we have had to “get up” to compete with them which is always fun. Our players really do love playing the game, and always want to beat the best.
You’ve had the chance to play several teams from Illinois this season. Is the plan to try to get the best teams from that region together each year? Any interest in a Spring tournament including Florida, Texas, or Washington teams?
I have always believed that to be the best, you have to beat the best, both in our state, and beyond. While we don’t always win our games in Chicago, we always come back a better team, having learned from the talented schools we play in Illinois.
We would be very interested in traveling to a championship tournament that would pull in teams from other areas. We may not always win, but we are always willing to play anyone, anytime.
What can you share with readers about the history of girls water polo at Rockford?
Girls’ water polo at Rockford has been around for about 20 years, but has experienced the most success in the last decade, including winning state championships in 2004, 2006, and 2008. A number of players have gone on to play varsity and club water polo at the collegiate level and have had success. In 2010 we finished 3rd in the state, and in 2011 we finished 2nd.
Tell us about your background. Where did you learn your water polo, and what were your coaching stops along the way to becoming coach at Rockford?
My water polo background starts right here in Rockford. I graduated in 2001 having played high school polo for four years and headed to Michigan State University where I played on the men’s club team and assisted the women’s club team for three years before taking over as head coach. During my time as head coach we were fortunate enough to win the National Collegiate Club Championship in 2006 and we also won 2 Big Ten titles. I came back to Rockford and worked as an assistant coach for the boys’ team before taking over the girls’ program. Outside of coaching polo, I still play for the 616 Masters’ team and officiate for the CWPA.