MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Women's water polo has been a varsity sport at Macalester since 2009. And if it seems a bit out of place in the land of frozen lakes, well, you have no idea.
"It definitely has its challenges, trying to get a good fan base involved, and educating people on the sport," Coach Scott Reed said.
Reed's been the coach here for four years. Macalester is the only school in the MIAC with a team. There are no other teams in Minnesota.
"Our closest opponent at this point in time is Carthage, in Kenosha, Wisconsin," Reed said.
What's it like playing in a program on such a geographic island?
"I think the best part of that is that we can say that we're undefeated state champs every year. But actually, it can be really challenging," said Lucy Moran, a utility player on the water polo team.
"We don't rely on a lot of Minnesota kids because there's just no high school programs in the state," Reed said.
There is not a single Minnesotan on the team.
"We do have a lot of interest from northern California. Some interest from Florida, Texas," Reed said.
Believe it or not, they come here even after taking visits.
"The big draw to the majority of the student-athletes that do come here is because of what Macalester has to offer academically," Reed said.
If certainly not climatologically.
"That's always the big question right there," Reed said.
Courtney Overland's their star goalie. She's from Honolulu, Hawaii. She said she came here because she wanted to be at a small school in a big city.
Wisely, the month they brought her in for her first visit was April.
"Yeah, it wasn't that cold, but everyone was saying it was a beautiful day, so I guess I got lucky," Overland said.
Or, Macalester got lucky.
The coldest place she'd ever been before?
"California? Yeah," Overland said. "It was worse than I expected, but you adjust, and I got to get a new wardrobe and visit Columbia for the first time."
The season starts in February – so, the dead of winter – and ends in mid-April. So, the dead of winter.
Macalester plays a majority Division 3 schedule, but some Division 1 also.
There are no high school teams from which to recruit in state. They are a geographic outlier – the snowy middle of nowhere. Many of the kids they try to recruit have never been in cold weather in their lives.
So, they're terrible, right? Too many disadvantages? Naturally, Macalester is one of the top teams in the country.
"The women on our team are incredibly dedicated. I think that coming to Macalester, we're all really focused on school and academics. But at the same time, a lot of us also channel that energy into water polo," Moran said.
"We're very proud of it. I don't think anybody ever realized that a team from Minnesota could be as successful as it is in the sport of water polo, and we're definitely putting our school on the map. And a lot of people are taking notice now," Reed added.
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