Water polo back, though Huskies need players

Scott Swanson

Of The New Era

After a year’s hiatus, water polo is back in Husky Pool and new coach Craig Martin is looking to rebuild the program.

“We have a long tradition of water polo that we’re hoping to reinstate,” Martin said.

The Huskies are a little shorthanded thus far, though with 10 girls and six boys, one boy short of a full team.

Another challenge in the first two weeks has been that the Sweet Home pool has been drained for repairs, which meant that the Huskies had to practice in Lebanon until the pool opened late last week.

Martin said so far the team has shown enthusiasm, despite the drawbacks.

“The kids seem to be working really hard,” he said.

“They’ve been great, fun to work with and eager to learn. They’re not afraid of hard work.”

Martin, who has been Sweet Home’s city manager since June of 1997, is a product of the Sweet Home aquatic tradition he talks about.

He swam and played water polo for the Huskies, graduating in 1977, then playing two years of water polo and swimming at Lewis and Clark College before transferring to the University of Oregon, where he played water polo for two more years and coached in the women’s swim program.

He’s also coached swimming and water polo at the high school level in Washington, where he was a city parks director before moving back to Sweet Home. He has also coached at the AAU and U.S. Swimming club level since 1978.

His wife Willa, a regular official at local swim meets, and his children Sean, a recent graduate of Washington State, where he competed in rowing, and

Nichole, now a swimmer at Pacific Lutheran, have been helping with the Husky program. Both played four years of water polo at Sweet Home.

“I think the challenge is going to be getting the program restarted after a year of not having a team,” Craig Martin said.

He starts with several veterans on the girls side, seniors Laura Gourley, Katie Kinney and Norajean LeMar.

The rest of the girls squad is new to high school water polo, but sophomores Sami Webb and Niccole Simmonds both have extensive swimming experience. Also expected to join the team are sophomores Cheryl Wilson and Sylvia Milburn, and freshmen Katie Turner and Rachel Maudlin.

The boys are led by senior Sebas Mauer, who are joined by juniors Eric Holmes and Holden Greene, sophomores Brandon Courteau and Alex Stupin, and freshman Cory Martin, the coach’s son.

Craig Martin said he hopes to pick up a few more players for both the girls and boys so he’ll have substitutes.

“Conditioning is something we’re really going to work on because I have limited subs,” he said.

The Huskies are scheduled to play local teams from Albany as well as other 4A schools around the northern part of the state.

“We’ll take (the matches) one at a time,” Martin said. “We’ll have goals for each game – not necessarily the score.”