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Roster remains fluid as boys water polo prepare for season

Claremont boys water polo coach Kristin Rodriguez made one point very clear as she debriefed her team following a scrimmage with Los Osos on Tuesday: be the player that all your teammates want to see in the pool.

“Are you the one everybody wants in because you hustle?” she asked the varsity boys. “Are you going to tell me ‘I can’t do that?’ or will you say ‘I am capable of doing that for the team?’”

She also repeated over and over that the boys had to put in the work to earn a spot on the varsity roster.

“You may have heard of Bruno Snow,” she asked somewhat rhetorically. Coach Rodriguez put Snow on the varsity team as a freshman, which did not please some parents of seniors, she admitted. But he had been working hard since he was seven years old and he earned it. “You have to put in the time to deserve to be here,” she said.

Snow, a 2017 CHS graduate, was a key offensive player and top scorer during his four years at Claremont, leading the Pack to a CIF championship in 2014. He received a scholarship to attend Harvard University.

Coach Rodriguez kept all freshmen together last year, rather than playing some on JV or varsity, so they could develop and bond as a team. Now those players are ready to vie for one of the top spots. “That group is coming with fire in their eyes,” she added.

Tuesday’s scrimmage was very low key—they did not keep score, it was more of a chance to find out who had the legs.

“I don’t have seven starters right now,” she said after her players had left to watch the JV scrimmage. “I am giving the non-starters a chance to wow me.”

Coach Rodriguez did single out senior attacker Mason Stark as an early standout. She has juniors, Enrique Roybal, who started last year, and Matteo Velasquez competing for the goalkeeper job.

Claremont has had some great teams over the years, but last year was a time to rebuild. The boys finished 2017 in third place with a 3-5 Palomares League record and lost in the first round of the CIF tournament to Dos Pueblos High School in Goleta.

This year, Coach Rodriguez has just four seniors, which bodes well for the next several years if the younger players can work together as a team.

“We are not ranked right now but my goal is that in two weeks we will be. That is what I am aiming for,” Coach Rodriguez said. “I am pretty excited about this year but we definitely have a lot of work to do.”

In Coach Rodriguez’s seven seasons leading the Pack, the boys won a CIF title, were runner up and had two seasons with perfect 8-0 league records.

She will need to pencil out that varsity roster in the next couple of weeks, as the Pack will have their first actual game on September 6 against Walnut High.

—Steven Felschundneff

steven@claremont-courier.com