By: Mileyka Ballard
Hudsonville High School Girls Waterpolo Team won last year’s state tournament.
Okemos Boys Waterpolo Team won states last year.
Rockford brings at least 15 girls to swim at states every year.
Grandville Girls Waterpolo Team has not seen a win since 1994. Girls Waterpolo was not introduced until 1993.
“Grandville is a community that is predominantly surrounded in the football culture,” says Athletic Director Brian Parsons. Where do aquatic sports fall under this umbrella and how can Grandville make sure that the future of its aquatics program can thrive for the younger generations?
Aquatic sports at the old GrandvilleHigh School (now the middle school) have been going on since at least the 60’s when the pool was built. Ever since then the Grandville Middle School pool, where aquatic programs generally start and the High School pool which was built in the late ’90s have not gotten upgrades and the teams that continue to swim in those same pools are using the same equipment or facilities that generations of swimmers have used before them. Pools, like any other equipment need to be renovated or brought to life again or else athletes will not want to use them.
Though student-athletes who participate in aquatics try to encourage GHS students and community advertise to come to the pool and support the teams that use the pool, Grandville Aquatics does not get as much fan support and recognition as most other sports, GHS senior Maddelyn Dodge states “It’s not as popular as Football, basketball, or cheer and people may feed into those stereotypes so they don’t pay attention to anything else.”
Most if not a majority of students at GHS students have never even been to an aquatic event, for example, Madelyn Dodge reiterated the fact that not many students have visited the pool by communicating “No, I have never been to an aquatic sporting event. I just don’t want to go by myself, none of my friends participate in swim or waterpolo but I think it would be really cool to go and watch.” Is the lack of advertising from participants of aquatic sports to blame or is it how Grandville ranks these sports and the amount of attention to the facilities that each and every individual sport uses?
One, if not the most important, factor to lack of attendance at aquatic sports is that compared to other schools that have a newer and more accessible location for their pool, Grandville’s pool looks set back and stuck in the past. The location is not easy for fans to find either because it is on the second floor, in the back of the high school with no windows and constant trouble with ventilation.
In comparison to Hudsonville’s pool allows for outside light to come in and for multiple activities to go on at the same time at their pool. Ask any Grandville athlete that competes in aquatic sports about having the ability to look outside or see sunlight and if it improves attitudes and mindsets even when the workout is difficult. Madeline Kievit a swimmer at Grandville states, “Lighting would definitely improve my mood while swimming. Pools like the Jenison pool have windows and it’s nice to let sunlight in and know what the weather is like instead of feeling like you’re trapped in a box.” Not only lighting but also ventilation is a deciding factor for whether the audience that has been to the pool wants to come back. People aren’t going to want to sit in a pool that is 85 degrees that is humid packed full of people for 1 to 2 hours, this also is not going to help those students that have been to the pool and have seen all of its deficiencies spread the word about aquatic activities.
Aquatics at Grandville High school is struggling, with the current pool situation the teams need motivation from the surrounding community and if that community doesn’t know about the sport or doesn’t enjoy the location or atmosphere of the pool, all adds up to low attendance and teams viewing themselves as unimportant compared to other sports. The Grandville pool also is a location that hosts practices for many other sports while also trying to accommodate for sports that are going on in the winter like their boy’s swim team.
Despite all these difficulties Grandville Aquatics still continues to overcome adversity, with the right coaching and group dynamic the Girls water polo team of the 2017-2018 school year place top 10 in the state tournament and because of the tight knit family that is created of the Grandville swimming community Grandville swimmers continue to qualify and swim at the states meet every year. Knowing that only some of the community knows about aquatics it is important for Grandville to educate and promote not only aquatics but the opportunity and lessons that aquatics can teach students and the many friends and life lessons that they will learn from being apart of Aquatics at GHS.