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Macalester College's Minnesotan-less water polo team treads towards national championship

Macalaester College women's water polo team reaches for nationals
Macalaester College women's water polo team reaches for nationals 01:36

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Macalester College's water polo team is on an island. 

They're the only varsity team in Minnesota. There isn't a large water polo infrastructure in the state and no high school-affiliated programs. 

That's why there are no native Minnesotans on Macalester's roster. First-year utility Pooja Bucklin is from Palo Alto, California.

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"On our trip last weekend, we actually had someone tell us, 'Oh I've never even heard of water polo.' And we're like 'alright,'" Bucklin said. "It's really weird because where I grew up, I mean, every high school had it. It was huge where I grew up. So it's a little weird like we have to travel so far to games, whereas in high school, I mean, it was a 10-minute drive to whoever you were playing."

Sophomore attacker Alana Nadolski is from Kentwood, Michigan.


"You just don't play that many games in your season," Nadolski said. "We play maybe 20 games in a season. And I wish like we could play more but we just can't."

Despite all that, Macalester is very successful. This year, they're the number-two seed in their conference tournament, which begins on April 19. Macalester is one of the favorites to make a run at their first and the sport's third-ever NCAA Division III national championship.

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"I didn't expect it to be as good as it is right now," said Macalester head coach Scott Reed. "I knew we did some promising things last season, but the team has really gelled together really well and the newcomers that came in this year have fit in nicely."

Bucklin says the team has been fine-tuning their defense little by little each week.

"Since it's become so strong, we've been able to really capitalize offensively because of that," she said. "We're kind of full speed ahead going into these next conference championships."

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