By Olivia Granaiola
Twitter – @oliviagranaiola
In a state like Florida where the football-basketball-baseball trifecta reigns supreme, high schools pour most of their time, efforts, and money into gaining a spot in the state’s athletic upper crust.
In Alachua County, one of these elite athletic programs resides at Gainesville High School.
With a strong athletic presence in “the big sports,” the GHS Hurricanes would not necessarily need to branch out. But, coach David Huelsman and his water polo team are the newest thing to hit the high school scene… and the tides are high.
“I couldn’t be happier,” are the words Coach Huelsman used to describe his feelings about the team’s inaugural year.
And based on the circumstances, it looks like Huelsman has the right attitude.
Without enough teams in their own district, the Gainesville High water polo team mostly competes in Orlando – an established hub for high school water polo.
Many teams in that area have at least a decade of experience under their belts.
“We didn’t fare well against Olympia and Dr. Phillips,” Huelsman admitted, “But, we have been very competitive against the rest of the district and in tournament play.”
But, Huelsman and the team wouldn’t mind some familiar company.
“We are hoping for Buchholz and P.K. Yonge [soon],” he noted. “Three teams would allow us to create in-Gainesville competition and a local district.”
Not too shabby for a group of kids being introduced to a more obscure sport. However, the competitive streak starts at the top.
Coach Huelsman works his students out three days during the school week. On Monday, the team runs stadiums at the University of Florida’s Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. On Tuesday and Thursday nights, the team practices for two hours. Games are on Friday. This conditioning encourages a young team to thrive.
“We only have one senior (Ellery Burgess) on the team, but we hope to come back stronger next year,” said Huelsman.
On the 15-student roster, there are four juniors (including captain Eliot Golde), six sophomores, and four freshmen. Fourteen returners and a determined coach hope to up the ante for their goals next year.
“We’re hoping to be third in the district next year,” Huelsman relayed.
Most likely, the team is hoping to sit behind those pesky Olympia and Dr. Phillips teams. It will be difficult. But, for a team that is so used to being behind the curve and shooting for the stars, count on the Gainesville Hurricanes water polo team to make it happen.
The GHS Water Polo Team will host its first-ever home match this Wednesday, April 4th, at the NE Pool at 5:45 PM. Come out and support the Canes as they host Apopka.
There are two more home meets to round out the season:
GHS vs Windermere Friday, April 13th, NE Pool (TIME TBD)
GHS vs Ocoee Saturday, April 14th, NE Pool (TIME TBD)
For more information, visit https://www.ghswaterpolo.com/