Agoura High School's new junior varsity water polo team this past weekend scored its first championship win for the program, besting Harvard-Westlake, Oxnard, and finally Ventura in an annual, pre-season tournament that allowed athletes to get their feet wet in competitive play just prior to today’s League season opener. And, while the tournament certainly showcased the strengths and talents of Agoura’s 2011 JV team, it also helped drive home some salient points about the program’s only shortcoming – it’s pool facility.
From the excellent coaching staff and enthusiastic support of committed and involved families, to the teeming rosters of well-trained and tenacious athletes, Agoura water polo sports a host of strong suits. Rigorous, cutting-age training by some of the best coaches in the game, and their consistent development of League and CIF championship teams as well as numerous Olympic National Team athletes, is hindered only by the narrow constraints of an aged pool facility that hardly reflects the rank and status of its #1 Division team or its community at large.
The only real weak link in the Agoura High School aquatics program is lack of a suitable training and competition pool.
And, at 40 years old, renovation to contemporary size, depth and energy standards is long overdue.
Athletes’ tongue-in-cheek term for their 25 yardl, 40 year old pool, "the bath tub," while amusing is also, unfortunately, rather accurate. Check out the above picture of six field players lined up, literally wall to wall, for a half court start. This picture cannot be reproduced at surrounding area pools, (Thousand Oaks, , Westlake Village), all of which have been renovated, enlarged and improved.
No one can argue with the success of Agoura High School’s aquatics program, though - despite its lack of a suitable training and competition pool. Particularly when judging by the numbers. So many incoming Agoura High School students wanted to be a part of the water polo family, a new division, Novice, was created. Athletic Director, Jason Rosenthal, boys head coach, Dustin Litvak, and assistant coach, Peter Schiavelli, were committed and determined to provide a spot to all comers. Not a single cut was made. The Agoura boys water polo family is now 66 athletes strong.
Now, consider these numbers: 66 athletes divided by a 25 yard pool. It just doesn’t add up. The Agoura High School aquatics family is expanding; so must its pool.
And, why is it so many Las Virgenes students and their families want to be part of the AHS aquatics program? Quite simply: excellence.
Yes, these coaches produce winning teams, but more importantly they contribute to student-athletes' development of a strong work ethic, integrity, honor, self-discipline, self respect, academic excellence, cooperation, team work and good sportsmanship throughout all their endeavors. Their high standards for excellence both in the pool, the classroom and in their own personal development is understood and valued by athletes and their families.
Another noteworthy number is Agoura’s ranking – Number One. The fact this program succeeds so exceedingly well despite its training conditions is tremendous testament only to the hard work, dedication, commitment and sacrifices of its coaches and student-athletes.
In addition to its inadequate size and depth, one of the more significant problems with the AHS pool is its lack of adherence to current energy-efficiency standards. At a time when surrounding schools are keeping pace - upgrading and improving their pool facilities, lowering their operating costs, hosting competitive events, and making their facilities available to under-served communities - Agoura falls below the mark. As frequent division contenders, AHS cannot even host championship playoffs at their own pool, as it does not meet required standards for depth and size.
Agoura High School's pool facility is woefully behind the times; it's size and condition hardly a reflection of its championship teams or the community at large. And, Agoura High School is home to the number one aquatics team in the area, yet its athletes train in a tiny, 40 year old, costly and deteriorating pool - the oldest and smallest in the area.
It's time for Agoura to catch up! The Agoura Water Polo Foundation needs the help and support of those who understand the value after-school swim programs will bring to community children and youth; therapeutic swim programs will bring to the area's seniors and physically challenged; the overall benefits a renovated pool will bring to student-athletes, the school and surrounding businesses.
Today’s home season opener begins this afternoon, Tuesday, September 13th at 3:15 pm as Varsity takes on Newbury Park.