By Marty Farmer
Fenwick High School, obviously no stranger to excellence in water polo, hosted the prestigious Nike 5-meter Chicago Water Polo Showcase over the weekend.
"The purpose of this camp is to allow Midwest players the chance to gain exposure to Olympic-level tactics," camp director John Abdou said, "and also gain greater understanding of what it takes to play at the varsity NCAA level."
Abdou, from the University of California Santa Barbara, brought in an impressive list of college coaches with U.S. National team experience to take part in the showcase at Fenwick. Long Beach State coach Gavin Arroyo, a member of the 1996 and 2000 U.S. Olympic teams, along with Brown University coach Felix Mercado, Bucknell coach John McBride and several other college coaches, provided valuable instruction on game fundamentals, practice drills and position training.
Matt Napleton, a 2009 Fenwick grad also returned to coach goalkeepers at the camp. Napleton recently helped guide the Bucknell men's water polo team to its first-ever Southern Championship title this past fall.
Thirty-six boys and 32 girls participated in the two-day showcase, including Fenwick water polo players Ryan Masi, Michael Hill, Mickey McGuire and Cara Borkovec. Jordin Hale, a junior goalie on the Oak Park and River Forest High School girls water polo team, won the camp's coachability award.
Fenwick boys water polo head coach Kyle Perry and Fenwick boys swimming head coach Luke McGuire checked out the event over the weekend. McGuire's kids, Mikey and Molly, both participated in the camp. Molly McGuire, an eighth-grader at Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School, attended the USA Water Polo Women's 8th Grade & Under National Team Selection camp in California over Memorial Day weekend.
"The camp is an opportunity for area high school water polo players to get some great instruction from top-flight coaches," Luke McGuire said. "On the second day, the coaches give a talk to the kids about the recruiting process and the skills, dedication and attitude needed to do well at the collegiate level."
The camp proved informative for several of the aforementioned players on the Fenwick and OPRF boys and girls water polo teams, which recorded successful spring campaigns.
After a one-year hiatus, the Fenwick boys water polo team regained its familiar designation as state champion by defeating state tournament host Stevenson 10-4. Since 1974, Fenwick has claimed 20 state titles in boys water polo, including 10 of the 12 state championships since water polo became an IHSA sport in 2002. The Friars were eight-time defending state champs before Lyons Township High School dethroned them in a thrilling 2012 sectional final.
On the girls side, Mother McAuley derailed the Friars' bid for three state titles in a row when the Mighty Macs edged Fenwick 8-7 in the state quarterfinals.
Led by Hale and top scorer Katie Appell, The OPRF girls water polo finished 23-7 while the boys team advanced to the Fenwick Sectional semifinals before losing 12-9 to conference rival, Lyons Township.