Make a splash and take a shot

With all the end-of-year events happening at once, one would think more sentimentality is the last thing one needs. With Baccalaureate, Senior Farewell, Sober Grad and Graduation all occurring last week- albeit in very different, very Covid-friendly ways- other important senior events can easily be glossed over, one of which is the water polo team's senior night.

On Tuesday May 11 2021 the members of the Class of 2021 on the San Joaquin Memorial girls water polo team played their final game of high school polo. To say it was an emotional night would be an understatement.

The SJM girls faced off against Madera South High in an exciting and back-and-forth game. Ultimately SJM came out on top, but the score was not the most important part for the team- it was the game in which six seniors played together for the last time.

"It may not sound like something to be proud of, but we all took this game to let it all out and play more aggressively than we ever have before. I got ejected twice in the second half because I was being too rough with my defense, which was a first for me. I definitely was not making any new friends, but that was the most fun I had had in any polo game," said Farris. Farris also won her first ever "jump ball," which she is very proud of as a 5-foot player.

Tuesday's starting lineup was comprised of Emma Farris, Siobhan Jacoby, Emma Underdown, LaReina Torres, Gianna Triplett and Emilee Sanders; the seniors were accompanied by junior Sarah Marmolejo in goal.

"Most of the season the coaches tried to spread out the seniors with the younger players so that we could begin to teach and give them an opportunity to learn, but for senior night all six of us were able to play at the same time, so it was really special," said Torres.

It was really special, especially for this particular season. These six seniors were coming off of 2019's historic Valley Championship (all of which played in that game) but were immediately faced with the postponements, cancellations and quarantines so many sports teams struggled through in 2020 and 2021.

While these girls had to wait until the spring rather than the fall to play through their senior season, they were simply just excited to be playing together again. They were not expecting a miracle season such as 2019's, but were desperate for a chance to simply be in the water together.

"Playing that final game felt like the culmination of a hard-earned year of socially-distanced practices, ten-day quarantines and weekly testing. We didn't really care whether we had a a successful season, we just wanted to play one last game together and get the senior night we deserved," said team captain Jacoby.

Following the game itself was the Senior Ceremony, where all six girls were presented in front of their family and friends. Sanders will be attending Seattle University, Triplett University of California, Santa Barbara, Torres is going to St. Mary's College of California, Underdown is set to go to California Polytechnic University at San Luis Obispo, Jacoby to Baylor University and Farris to Chapman University (where she will continue her water polo career as a Chapman Panther).

The senior girls expressed their thanks to their younger teammates, family members and coaches for making their final season one that they will remember and treasure forever. SJM is truly blessed to have such talented and kind-hearted athletes, including those on the girls water polo team, to represent the school both now and in their bright futures. Rest assured, they will be making plenty of splashes throughout their lives.


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