RIVERSIDE — A year after the water polo programs at Riverside Brookfield were nearly cut for budget reasons, the coaches have been forced to become salesmen as well.
Boys coach Peter Murphy and girls coach Sofia Pappanastos are trying to create a grass roots program for RB water polo to create interest in the sport. Murphy, a sixth grade teacher at Hauser Junior High School in Riverside, has started to reach out to some of his students.
“I’m trying to advertise the water polo camps to middle schoolers so they can start getting involved in water polo earlier on in their lives,” Murphy said. “Just a little bit of exposure to the game makes a really big difference.”
The RB boys team had three wins this season following an 0-4 showing at the Sandburg Invite over the weekend. The Bulldogs only have a few seniors but do have several juniors and sophomores to make the future appear bright.
Senior captain Dan Somers broke his hand and will miss the rest of the season, but his junior brother, Tim, has filled in. Leading goal scorer Jon Moron and David Kidwell have also been key players.
Sophomore Paul Sitkiewicz is the type of player Murphy is hoping the program can attract in the future. The tall and athletic Sitkiewicz focuses on basketball at RB and is using water polo for conditioning.
“That is a great way to advertise the sport for athletes,” Murphy said. “If they’re really looking to condition in their offseason, playing water polo is a great way.”
The girls team had an 11-14 record after going 0-3 at the York Invite during the weekend. The Lady Bulldogs have nine seniors and more numbers than the boys.
Returning goalie Caitlin Parisi and leading scorers Emma Veon and Sydney Veon have been key players along with Dana Callanan and Andie Krug.
Nearby powerhouse programs Lyons Township and Fenwick could make the Bulldogs feel like the little brother in the area, but both coaches have ambitions to get RB to that level with offseason camps and youth programs.
“We need that,” Pappanastos said. “That’s what’s going to help us in the future because they never had a summer program before. All the schools that have beaten us they have feeder programs. Their kids have been playing since middle school. They didn’t just pick up a ball freshman year and start playing.”
The summer program they have planned will be open to people from outside RB’s district and will include junior high and high school age groups.