Mercer Islanders head back to the pool | Water polo preview

Members of the Mercer Island High School water polo team gathered near the Interstate 90 floating bridge before the annual lake swim at the beginning of the season. - Contributed photo
Members of the Mercer Island High School water polo team gathered near the Interstate 90 floating bridge before the annual lake swim at the beginning of the season.
— image credit: Contributed photo

For the second straight year, the Mercer Island boys water polo team is taking to the pool with a new coach. Again this fall, the team hopes that despite a new coach, they will be able to bring home another state title.

Under the reign of John Jacobson, a MIHS water polo alum, the team looks and feels much the same as in years past.

“Things are pretty much the same,” said the new coach. “We did a standard training camp and practice.”

Jacobson is the executive director and head coach for Rain City Polo, a local club water polo group for girls and boys.

After an early season loss to the CPA, the Islanders are focused on getting things going.

“So far so good,” said senior captain Yashar Zafari. “We lost a lot of players, and we’re starting some new good players.”

Even with a large group of new players — Jacobson said 30 guys turned out this fall — the team is strong.

“I think swimming is huge,” said the coach. “A lot of our guys are year-round swimmers, and they have a great swim program at the high school, obviously. So we’re fast; we’re a fast team. Size-wise, we’ve got some good size on our team — can’t really complain. Physically, they have all the tools to compete.”

Another captain, senior Sam Bender, said the team is putting in hard work to make its goals this season.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” said Bender. “Hard work, but fun hard work.”

Bender and Zafari are joined by captains Kenny Trowbridge and Josh Norden this fall.

As in many years past, the team’s major goal is winning state, which it has for the past 11 years.

“We only have one goal and that’s to win the state championship. It’s kind of the norm for Mercer Island. That’s what I was used to. The very first day of practice, we sat them down and figured out what it takes to make that goal,” said Jacobson.

In order to make it happen, Bender said he thinks it’s key for the team to work as a unit.

“I think we have to be willing to work together on things,” he said. Zafari echoed those thoughts.

“I’d like to see us work well together as a team and bring the new players together,” said the captain.

For the coach, getting to the title game, it requires taking little steps each and every day.

“It’s pretty standard, which is get better every day. I’m sure every coach in every sport says it, but it’s pretty hard to do. That’s our goal. We’re just trying to get better every single day and take it one game at a time and see where we end up at the end of the season,” said Jacobson.

Before the team can get to state, or even through the regular season, they’ll have to pass by opponents like CPA and Bellevue — the team all the captains said they look forward to playing each year.

“For me, it’s one game at a time. We should be looking forward to everybody the same. San Diego is always a highlight — the kids look forward to going down there and spend a couple days in the sun,” said the coach.




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