Macalester men's water polo: the sons of Neptune

By Daniel Kerwin

The men’s water polo team considers itself the sexiest team on campus, and who can blame them. I mean, which other teams are confident enough to run around campus with nothing but a speedo on?If you’re still not convinced, you can come see the team in the heat of competition this weekend and judge for yourself. The team is hosting a seven-team tournament this weekend at Macalester, the first big event to be held in the new Riley Pool. The team is coming off of a performance last week that can definitely be described as sexy, having won three of its four matches.

“I just want to say that after watching our guys in the water at the tournament last weekend, all I could think was, ‘miracles shouldn’t happen that often,'” Ethan Forsgren ’11 said.

Forsgren is one of the newest members on the team, admitting that he’s never so much as exercised in a pool before joining the team.

“As a beginning player, I was not one of the strongest players on the team,” Forsgren said. “I’ve had to make up for my lack of swimming ability with pure aggression. Luckily I’ve found a sport that fully supports that tendency.”

Forsgren has pointed out the fundamental characteristic of water polo. In water polo, it’s not all about the looks; under the surface, the game looks more like a battle than a sport.
The first battle is to stay continuously treading water throughout the entire match. Add in the fact that your opponents are trying to grab, punch and scratch you at the same time, and this becomes an increasingly worrying endeavor.

“The hardest part of water polo is trying not to drown,” Nathan Young ’11 said. “If you’re not sprinting back and forth you’re wrestling. Today coach told us ‘Is polo! Is like aikido or wrestling or whatever, except just underwater!'”

“People don’t realize that we are actually fighting with other players the whole time we are playing the game,” Max Kulicke ’11 said. “Water polo turns you into a swimming Bruce Lee. I once bit a guy in the thigh and I’ve punched a girl in the face.”

To be fair, the girl in question was trying to detach his genitalia at the time. Now you understand kind of sport water polo is.

Kulicke is one of the players on the team who had past water polo experience before coming to Macalester.

“I’ve played polo on a lot of different teams, and after being on this team, I wouldn’t want to play with anyone else,” Kulicke said. “My [high school] coach knew nothing about the game and used it as an extra three months to train his swimmers. To come here and have a coach who knows the game inside and out and a team that cares about the game is awesome.”

The aforementioned coach is Michael Kostinovski, who has coached the team since last year. According to Sam Adels ’09, Coach Kostinovski, who hails from Russia, talks in “a delightfully terrifying, thick Russian accent,” and encourages the team “to use deadly force in all aspects of life.”

Kulicke is the team’s main goalie, taking over form the recently graduated Murat Ilgen ’08. Kulicke is taking his new role seriously.

“I feel as if I have a divine mandate to protect my goal and protect my team – I have a mission from God,” Kulicke said. “I feel like I am a shepherd and the team is my flock.”

The team certainly acts as a flock, whether it be sharing a bottle of Head & Shoulders shampoo which they hide in an undisclosed location in the locker room, or running around campus half naked on Wednesday afternoons, deemed “Wet and Wild Wednesday” by the team.

“We at the water polo team are major promoters of public nudity, which is why we’ve started the tradition of Wet and Wild Wednesdays,” Jeremy Glover ’09 said. “At 4:30 on Wednesdays we run through campus with our speedos on, shamelessly promoting our bodies for the public good or bad.”

“I love the group of guys and camaraderie which is shared in and out of the pool,” Jeff Yamashita ’11 said. “I wouldn’t trade my position on the Mac Polo team for any other collegiate water polo program in the nation. I am fortunate to play with a great group of guys who want to have fun.”

The team not only has fun with the sport, they’re out there to win. The team participates in the Collegiate Water Polo Association Heartland Division and has had success in the recent past.

“We went to nationals in both 2005 and 2006. We’re looking to continue the legacy of our forebrethren,” Glover said. “We want to once again bring glory to the institution of club sports at Macalester.”

To get the nationals, the team will have to win the Heartland Division Championship, to be played at St. John’s University in mid-October. Last year the team lost a close game to St. John’s in the semi-finals, but it is looking to rebound this year. In a positive sign, they have already beaten St. John’s this season.

This weekend’s tournament is the best chance people on campus will have to see the team in their campaign to make nationals, so if you have the time Saturday and Sunday, in the words of Glover, “Come watch the tournament for fierce man on man action.