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Water polo enters the deep

September 20, 2013

Monmouth College Photo - Men's Water Polo hosted first tournament as a varsity sport.

Having dominated as a club team for the past five years, the Monmouth College Crab People are now Fighting Scots. After winning the Collegiate Water Polo Association Division III Men’s National Club Championship last fall, the now-varsity Fighting Scots have a new name to go along with a new season.

A new name comes with it new privileges. As a freshly minted varsity sport, the once student-run team is now fully backed by the school, which means less financial strain on the athletes. “There were a lot of sacrifices on the club end of things. It was very expensive. Then getting a bid to nationals every year added to the expenses,” says ex-club player and varsity head coach Josh Dunn. Being a varsity team means the expenses are fully funded by the school.

The only varsity water polo team in Illinois, the Fighting Scots will need the funds almost solely for traveling. As part of the Southern Division of the Collegiate Water Polo Association the team will be traveling to places like Salem, West Virginia and John Hopkins University in Baltimore.

With the long travels and new opponents, Coach Dunn said, “It’s going to be a different atmosphere this year.”
The different atmosphere is part of the reason Dunn put large block “0-0” on the back of the team’s shirts. Resetting the record symbolizes the maiden voyage of the team. “Without [the club’s] foundation, us as a varsity program wouldn’t be possible. But what we’ve done past as a club means absolutely nothing. We’ve never faced any of these teams; none of these teams have faced us.”

Junior captain Marshall Palfenier echoes his coach in the new approach to the team. “We’re a new team now,” he said. “There’s a high level of concentration and seriousness. We have to prove ourselves in a new scene.”
But the team welcomes that challenge. “We definitely have the right group of guys to take on this challenge,” said Palfenier. “Our talent level is there.”

Headed by the captain trio of Palfenier, senior Tony Marino and senior Gabe Baginski the team has the right basis for success at the varsity level. The competition, while different, shouldn’t be too different from what the Crab People are used to.

“I expect the competition to be like what we saw at nationals [and] our seniors and our juniors have plenty of experience at the national level,” said Coach Dunn.

Overall, the team is excited for the new experience. “It’s going to be tough, but it’s definitely going to be fun,” said Palfenier.

Chase Mowery
Contributing Writer

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