As water polo’s popularity grows, so do health concerns – The DePaulia


In one second, Abby Schultz was celebrating her profitable try to dam her opponent from scoring. In the following second, amidst the chaos of the water polo scrimmage between DePaul and University of Illinois -Urbana-Champaign and each groups splashing in regards to the pool, Schultz discovered herself being pressured underwater, and held there. 

The DePaul Water Polo Club is a coed, although Schultz was one of many solely women on the workforce. 

“If a guy on my team had blocked the ball he wouldn’t have been attacked after,” Schultz stated. “This is part of the game. I didn’t do anything illegal or shady. I was just playing. I blocked a shot well.”

Water polo features very similar to soccer, although as a substitute of working on a subject, gamers are half submerged in water and must tread repeatedly. Feet will not be allowed to the touch the underside of the pool. Because water partially obscures the sport, gamers will usually use this to their benefit. Senior Zach Elias, the membership’s secretary, says these techniques embrace wherever from scratching and grabbing, which aren’t essentially unlawful, to kicking, punching and elbowing.

According to information web site Total Water Polo, Illinois has the second-highest quantity of water polo gamers per state, subsequent to California. 

The DePaul Water Polo membership, now in its fifth season, boasted about 16 dedicated gamers whereas Schultz was on the workforce from 2015-2017. The quantity of ladies on the workforce fluctuated from two to 6 throughout that point. The workforce is a part of the scholar American Collegiate Water Polo League. The League at all times makes use of the lads’s sized ball, which is a bit greater than the ladies’s.  

Courtesy of Dean Zillner
DePaul sophomore Dean Zillner appears to make a move through the Blue Demons water polo match towards Iowa final season.

Elias has been a water polo participant for eight years. He says the women and men on the workforce have at all times labored cohesively, and that gender doesn’t make a distinction within the pool. 

“It comes down to how long you’ve been playing,” Elias stated. “There’s some really good players in the league, men and women. I wouldn’t consider being a man or a woman a factor; it all comes down to experience. There’s stuff that, if you’re an experienced player, you can do to exploit inexperienced players.”

Morgan Miller was a type of skilled gamers when she joined the membership after transferring to DePaul from Iowa State for her junior 12 months. In highschool, she was on the National Midwestern workforce, having performed since she was 13. She’d at all times scrimmaged with boys, however had not been on a coed workforce till school. 

“Guys play a different way, and they’re a little bit bigger. But I’m fast, I could keep up with them,” Miller stated.

Even although the league is coed, each Miller and Schultz notice that water polo is a male dominated sport, and as such, there weren’t many ladies on any of the groups they performed. Many occasions, they have been all male, and if there have been ladies on the workforce, they didn’t play very a lot. 

According to Miller, some women could have felt extra intimidated than she did.

“Other girls weren’t able to play because they couldn’t play some of the guys on the other teams because some of the guys play a little bit dirtier,” Miller stated.

“When we were playing a really good team and they had really good guys that intimidated me, but there were plenty of guys where I was playing at the same level as them. If there was a guy that was 200 lbs and 6 feet tall, yeah that intimidated me because he could definitely take over me and shoot the ball right over my head.”

Schultz stated coming into the scholar league was a little bit of a shock. In highschool, she had at all times been one of many greatest, strongest gamers on the workforce. Now, she was smaller than lots of her rivals. 

“Other teams would go after the girls on purpose, being extra rough. They were trying to find the weak spot, and just assuming it was the girl. That’s not an actual tactic, that’s just people being jerks” Schultz stated.

Phillip Skiba is a board licensed doctor in Family and Sports Medicine, working towards at Advocate Health Care in Park Ridge. For probably the most half, he doesn’t suppose water polo is reliant sufficient on genetics as a result of they pertain to gender to wish to maintain women and men separate in competitors.

“Men can be faster swimmers than women. A large amount would depend upon the rules and things like that,” Skiba stated. For instance, how robust the ref’s going to be on bodily altercations between the gamers. If they’re going to name through the match, you may not have an issue.”

In a latest Chicago Tribune article, it was reported that over a 3rd of water polo gamers say they’ve gotten concussions from the game. Miller has her personal laundry listing of accidents. What she rattles off consists of 4 main concussions, many minor concussions, tears in each shoulders  —which she mentions she must get surgical procedure for — carpal tunnel from snapping her wrists on a regular basis, three damaged fingers and lots of a black eye. 

“Some days I feel like I’ve had some concussions,” she stated. “I’m super groggy and all light hurts, just kills. It’s really hard to focus. Sometimes I can’t even read.”

Though she’s taken a beating, for her, it’s been price it.

“It’s such a unique sport and not many people get to play it, so if you find out that you’re actually good at it and that you can play, why not? It’s so much fun,” Miller stated. 

Elias and Schultz have each come out with none main accidents. They each get the occasional scratching right here and there, and Elias was as soon as punched within the face, however the listing of accidents they’ve acquired may be counted on one hand. 

“I don’t think it’s an exceedingly violent sport,” stated Elias. “There’s not anymore injuries than say soccer or even basketball. Stuff just kind of happens sometimes. Anything the refs see they crack down on. But, if there’s stuff going on underwater it is obscured.” 

Schultz has by no means confronted something much like what Miller described however, in a second occasion of practically being drowned throughout a recreation, a participant Schultz  defended didn’t cease what he was doing after the referee blew his whistle on a foul, and continued pushing her head underwater, “I don’t really remember when happened, I swallowed a lot of water and had to get out. One of my teammates came up to me after and said ‘I jabbed him a bit underwater for you.’” 

Skiba recommends being cautious when deciding if individuals ought to be restricted in sport based mostly on their intercourse. 

“There’s a lot of discussion today about men and women’s sport, what can be coeducation and what should not be,” Skiba stated. “Those are important questions to have in an open and honest way. When we want to say ‘you can’t do this, you can’t participate because you’re a man or a woman,’ we should make sure we have very good reasons for enforcing the rules that we want to enforce.”  

Miller echoes Skiba’s sentiment, and although she has confronted some burdensome moments on the scholar workforce, she really prefers it to an all-women’s workforce. 

“I liked playing with a coed team. You get so many different players and guys are really good competition and it makes you better,” Miller stated. 



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