by Lauren Peachey, Athletic Communications Intern
BRIDGEPORT, Pa. -- Ted Minnis, head coach of Harvard University's water polo programs has a positive outlook for the Crimson women's squad this season.
Last year, the team placed seventh at the Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) Eastern Championship with an 8-3 conference record and a 17-12 overall mark.
Reflecting on the season, Minnis believes his team played well.
"We were senior heavy and had a lot of experience in the water. We played some close games at Easterns, so the final results could have gone either way. It wasn't a bad way to finish the season with a win [against Bucknell University]."
In 2013, the team will rely on many of its newcomers to fulfill important positions and help the Crimson climb the CWPA standings.
"This year we are a much younger team. We have some younger players who will definitely be playing key roles. This is a different kind of team than I have coached in the past few years."
Though they will have to adjust to a new mix of players, the team will not be starting from scratch.
"I think we adapt what we do to our roster," notes Minnis, "but ultimately, we will run the same kinds of things."
According to Minnis, rivalries are not limited to one team in the league or on the East Coast.
"Everybody is a rival. The Ivys, obviously, but there are other rivalries, too."
Harvard will travel to California in March where the Crimson will be matched up against some of the strongest teams in the nation, including No. 1 ranked and defending National Champion Stanford University.
Gaining some insight from the team's slate of games against highly competitive teams is the ultimate goal.
"We have a pretty tough schedule out in California. We hope to learn and grow as a team, and play our best water polo."
Add in scheduled non-conference games against No. 4 University of California, No. 14 University of California-Davis, No. 8 San Jose State University and No. 18 University of the Pacific, along with future matchups against No. 10 Princeton University, No. 12 Indiana University and No. 19 University of Michigan, among others, and the Crimson's slate appears full of potential question marks.
"Whenever you have an opportunity to play some of the best teams in the nation, you try to learn as much as you can from them; learn every step of the way."
If the Crimson can put it together and make a run at the CWPA's Eastern Championship slated for April 26-28 at the University of Michigan, Harvard will get a rare opportunity for any collegiate sports program - regardless of sport or gender- by hosting the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Championship at home in Blodgett Pool on May 10-12.
"I am very excited to host the NCAA Championship. It is a great opportunity not only for my program, but also for all of East Coast water polo. It will be a great event; I am hoping to have some Olympians here from different countries."
But for Minnis, the race to NCAAs begins the same for every institution that dives in - the team.
"Chemistry, work ethic and being adaptable all contribute to a team's success. There are always going to be bumps along the way. Especially for the women's team, it is such a long season and they spend so much time together. Not getting sick of each other is key."
However, Minnis' continues to preach the same philosophy to his squad as they start the arduous season - improve each match.
"The season is a staircase. Hopefully, we are playing our worst water polo our first day and our best water polo at Easterns. Easterns is the goal."