A “foreboding” text message two days before their opening game resulted in turmoil for the USA Women’s Water Polo Team in Rio. Coach Adam Krikorian’s brother had died. The team barely averaging 23 years of age was suddenly forced to manage the very real emotions surrounding mortality and family.
The young team responded with deft maturity, according to Sports Illustrated, coalescing around the distraught coach as he departed for California to be with his family.
…Krikorian could sense how much his callow players had grown-up in his absence. “I’ve given this team a lot of grief over the last couple years,” he says. “One of my goals as a coach is to create a team that feels empowered, that has ownership, that can handle adversity on their own without their coach telling them what to do every step of the way. I’ve given them a hard time, ironically, because I think we’ve struggled with that. And all of a sudden, it’s happening.”
The results appear to support SI’s assertion: the team is undefeated having dispatched European champions Hungary 11-6 on Saturday to earn the Americans a quarter-final spot and a match against struggling Brazil.