HS Water Polo: UIL Sanctions New Sport in The Woodlands

By: Julio Varguez
| Published 04/07/2022


THE WOODLANDS, TX –- Similar to the game of soccer but not quite as old, Water Polo was developed in the mid-1800’s by British journalist and swimming instructor/coach William Wilson. Water Rugby, now known as Water Polo, was thought to be created to attract crowds during holiday at county fairs and festivals. Water polo was also the first team exhibition, in water, at the Olympics.

Today water polo is played all over the world and has finally made its way into competitive high school sports. The UIL (University Interscholastic League) will also sanction the sport in the fall so schools can create teams from their students who are currently enrolled.

The Woodlands has had their own water polo club since the late 2010s and with the new development with the UIL, more schools will offer this sport to their student in the upcoming school year.

One of the last games as a club sport was played earlier this week and it featured both the Girls and Boys of The Woodlands Highlanders and Conroe Tigers. Unfortunately, since this is a newer sport, sometimes the teams are a bit inexperienced so games are often one sided. This was the case for the girls where The Woodlands chalked up 19 points to Conroe’s 4.

The boys however, was a different story. The game was a nail biter as Conroe kept up with The Woodlands throughout regulation. As the ball moved up and down the pool, each team fought for position, almost wrestling, in order to get a clear look at the goal. The Woodlands was able to squeeze out a couple more goal attempts against a strong Conroe team which gave them the win, 17-14.

When asked about feelings towards Water Polo becoming a UIL sport, coach Joe Flesch responded, “I think it’s good. I think it’s really good. We are starting to see the excitement not just from the kids because as a club polo organization we have seen a ton if interest this year. UIL is just accelerating that.”

As parents, teachers and coaches get ready for this new sport, the lack of interest from student athletes is always a concern. Coach Flesch said, “We are seeing double the amount of kids come out to our practices to get ready, which is really indicative of the UIL ruling. It’s also getting the CISD coaches really bought in and sold into what we can do from a skills readiness perspective within the club, bringing that into the high schools, and prep them on what they need to be ready for in the UIL season coming up.”

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