SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Sports

October 4, 2012

Discipline, dedication the hallmark for St. John's Prep water polo team

There’s no denying the level of excellence that the St. John’s Prep athletic program bestows on its athletes. From swimming to basketball, soccer and fencing — the Eagles are top-notch competitors in virtually every athletic endeavor.

Add to that list perhaps one of the least known programs at St. John’s Prep: its water polo team.

The program is one of a kind on the North Shore, as there are no other public or parochial schools with varsity or club teams in the area. The Eagles have five water polo matches during the fall season, all on the road, with the closest being 45 minutes away at Phillips Andover and the longest being a two-hour bus ride.

While St. John’s will hold practices before school totalling three-and-a-half or four hours each week, the schools that they play against often triple that practice time while playing as many as 25 games a season.

“We mostly play boarding schools with kids from all over the country,” said senior captain Joe Crateau, who has nine goals through the first two games for the Eagles. “Some weeks we practice three days; other weeks we’ll add in a Saturday practice. I tried to hold captain practices during the summer, mostly running drills to get the team in shape. We don’t nearly get as much practice as other teams we face, though.”

Normally, the kids starting out in the program have little to no experience in water polo.

“When I first started as a freshman I hadn’t played before,” Crateau explained. “I knew one of the captains on the team at the time, and he told me about the program. I did some work that summer at water polo camps that taught the basic skills.”

There are 46 players in the entire program between the freshman, junior varsity and varsity teams. This year’s varsity squad carries 16 kids, with seven (including a goalie) playing in the pool during the games. There are starting players, but there are occasional substitutions much like in soccer and hockey.

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