The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Sports

March 15, 2013

Making a splash at Spire

Olympic development water polo on display this weekend

HARPERSFIELD TOWNSHIP — Balls will be flying in every direction at Spire Institute pool this weekend, but there won’t be any lifeguards yelling for people to stop.

The Olympic Development Program Water Polo East/West Regional Championships (for girls) kicks into high gear this morning with the first game at 7:30.

Water polo is played a little like soccer, with a goal on each side of the pool with defenders strategically placed between the goalie and the team on the offense.

“We have about 200 athletes from across the country,” Jim Bocci, director of Acquatics at Spire, said.

The two-day competition will not only crown regional champions in a variety of age groups, it will give participants a chance to show their stuff to national coaches, Bocci said.

“It think it (water polo) is unique,” he said. It is a team water sport and you don’t see that much.”

Bocci said the sport is like volleyball or basketball, with a great deal of cooperation between teammates and extensive athleticism.

Bocci said the competitions will be held between girls in their own grade level, starting with eighth graders and going through seniors in high school.

“The coaches will be on the deck watching to select the national team,” Bocci said. “It is a funnel system.

“There are top athletes that will eventually represent (the United States) at international competitions.”

Tickets are $5 or free for ages six and under.

The USA Swimming Speedo Sectionals will also be held at Spire Institute starting March 21 and continuing through March 24.

Those enthralled by water polo this weekend will have a second shot to watch the sport on April 20 during the NCAA Division II Water Polo Eastern Championships.

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