Amy Olsen, sophomore member of the Iona College women's water polo team, will chronicle this season on ICGaels.com as the Gaels look to repeat as MAAC Champions and return to the NCAA Championships. In 2011, Olsen was named MAAC Rookie of the Year and a Second Team All-MAAC Selection after scoring 95 points on 75 goals and 20 assists, and was recently named to the All-MAAC First Team. Outside the pool, Olsen is a double major in English and Mass Communication with a concentration in Television and Video and writer for the school newspaper, The Ionian.
Another week and a half of practice was tough, while also finishing our finals early, but we managed and after a five and a half hour plane ride, we arrived here on Wednesday in sunny California. Thursday was a great day for us. In the morning, we went to the Aztec Aquaplex, the home for the Championship, where we got a chance to warm up and get accustomed to the pool. With the day ahead of us, we took a trip to the famous San Diego Zoo. Your fellow Gaels basically took as we took a bus tour, went on a “Skyfari” ride, and took an obnoxious amount of photographs, as you can tell by the attached gallery.
Our day was wrapped up at the official Championship banquet, held at the San Diego Hall of Champions. After our dinner, each team had one player go up and the team’s season. Our representative, senior Caitlin McGregor, did a fantastic job. She incorporated our team’s love for food, singing, use of the term “Gael”, and how we respond to the people who ask us questions about water polo.
The keynote speaker of the event was Vicky Barker, who was not only a tremendous water polo player herself, but is now a lawyer specializing in cases regarding Title IV. This year happens to be the fortieth anniversary for Title IV, and Vicky discussed the history of Title IV and how women’s college water polo all began. It was a great feeling to be in a room full of athletes that have had similar experiences as you, the same hunger for the sport you love, and to learn together how far women’s water polo, and women’s athletics in general, have come.
Iona’s water polo is a perfect example of progress. Coach Brian Kelly started the program seventeen years ago and we have now reached the NCAA tournament for the second year in a row. Last year we were the eighth seed, and after the experience of last year’s NCAA tournament along with a long year of hard work, this year we are the seventh seed. Experience is not everything, but it certainly is one of the most valuable aspects a team can have.
So far the time here has been memorable one for all of us, and the games have not even begun. We open up against UCLA, one of the nation’s very best, and we plan on giving them a great game. We do not know what other teams will we place just yet, but I do know that I have complete confidence in my teammates and coaches. We are so thankful for all the support we have been given, and for the opportunity to be here. We know that after this tournament we will have gained another great experience and finished our season in the best way possible.