From one pool to the next, North Penn water polo seeks to bring home the gold

After both the boy’s and girl’s waterpolo teams had to start their seasons away from home, there are happy and thankful to be able to compete at North Penn once again.

TOWAMENCIN – North Penn’s girls and boys water polo teams, who have won a total of 9 state champions with 6 coming from the girls and 3 coming from the boys, are adapting to what is the new reality of their seasons due to the detrimental impacts of COVID-19.

The Knights and Maidens never would have thought they would kick off their season at Whites Road Pool. That is, until 2020 of course. Having all of their home games at Whites Road Pool took some getting used to; however, it was their best bet, as that pool was many of the athletes stomping grounds throughout their youth. For senior Max Bachman, the Whites Road pool was his childhood competition pool, a place where he broke countless records on the swim team and evolved as an athlete. Although Whites Road Pool provided the team with a place to compete, it had its drawbacks.

“Because we were the last practice, we had to put tarps over the water to keep it somewhat warm, ” Bachman said.

The availability of Whites Road made it possible to prepare for their season, although other schools had a guaranteed pool to play in, where North Penn had to take it day by day, as some days, the water would be too cold to even get into.

Despite this setback, the Rick Carroll Natatorium opened its doors to the athletes after a long-awaited, highly anticipated 5-4 vote in a school board meeting on October 1st. Senior captain of the boy’s team, Matt Harkrader, couldn’t be happier to return.

“It’s a thousand times better. We have longer practices now, which allows us to put more work in and actually host home games,” Harkrader said.

The Maidens share similar views about the transition from Whites Road to North Penn as they couldn’t be happier. They certainly made the most out of what they had available to them outside. However, due to the recent drop in temperature, the team was forced to shift gears and work more on land than they would have liked. Certainly, it’s safe, to say the least after countless runs in the colder weather, the Maidens are ready to get back in the water. Senior captain, Lizzy Koerper, and hole set for the Maidens are greatly appreciative of the opportunity they have been given to get back in the swing of things in their home pool.

“It would be nice to have fans to play in front of, although, I’d rather play in North Penn than outside with fans,” Koerper said.

With the remainder of their season in the Rick Carroll Natatorium, the Knights also aren’t able to host their annual Knight Invite tournament, which they look forward to every year. Unsure whether or not they will have state playoffs, both the boys and girls teams are preparing for it. Not only are they preparing to compete, but they are preparing to bring home the gold.

“There are talks of setting up some type of state tournament in the springtime if we aren’t able to host one this fall,” Harkrader said.

Nearing the midway point in their seasons, the Knights (6:0) and the Maidens (6:0) have manifested perfect winning records and have high hopes of clinching the state title one last time to cap off their senior seasons.

“Souderton, LaSalle, Wilson, and Cumberland Valley have always been our biggest competition, but we can take them,” Bachman said.

Head Coach Jason Grubb foresees great success within both programs this year, as they are already off to a great start.

“Our sights are already on a state championship for both programs,” Grubb said.

As for the Maidens, they have a big game today (10/15) against Wissahickon, which will ultimately secure their position in the state playoffs. Senior captain Casey Brennan–one of the Maidens utility players–dominates the pool simply by using her left hand to catch the opposing team off guard. Brennan couldn’t be more excited to take on one of their biggest rivals.

“This game tonight is the big deciding factor of whether or not we will make it into states because if we lose one game, there are only 4 people that can compete in states,” Brennan said.

Both teams have been playing together since they could swim, and for the majority of them, have been since they could walk. The North Penn water polo team is a family. The bonds they have created within their team have been carried out from generation to generation, allowing them to connect as well as they do. The remainder of their season is yet to be determined, however, another state title is just beneath them.