Jamie Kim, staff writer
She treads in the water, overseeing the entire game from the goalie’s net. Amid the chaos that ensues during each match, freshman Jean Park has only one thing on her mind: to block that yellow ball from whizzing past her into the net.
Park, a newcomer to the sport of water polo, found her natural talent and keen interest in the water this year, which eventually placed her on the starting lineup for the girls varsity water polo team.
“I first got involved with this sport because I wanted to try a different aquatic sport besides mswim, so I tried water polo,” she said. “Also, being a part of this team made me know what I want to do in the next three years for my sport.”
Her first experiences with water polo were not the easiest; yet, as other athlete, she gained talent and endurance after each practice.
“As I improved with this sport, I felt more confident with myself and felt that I could do so much more for the team than before. For every game that I played, I felt less nervous than the previous game because I felt more prepared,” Park said.
As the season progressed, coach Gabrielle Juarez offered Park the opportunity to become the starting goalie for the varsity team, based on the potential and effort Park presented.
“When I was chosen to be on varsity, I was really unsure because all the kids in JV were like family to me. I made a really strong bond with them, so the thought of leaving them really made me feel bad,” Park said. “But, their encouragement for me to go join the varsity team really was the final ‘say’ that made me move.”
Teammate and junior Hannah Knecht noted that Park’s personality played a role in helping the team.
“Jean always brings the most positive attitude, the funniest remarks and a lighthearted approach to every game. If we were to choose a team mascot, it would be Jean,” Knecht said. “She gave her all in every game and although this was her first year playing, the entire team watched her grow immensely in skill and experience.”
On top of her cheery personality, Park displayed skill in the early days of the season.
“It’s a big task to go from never playing water polo in your life to starting a varsity game,” Knecht said. “And that’s essentially what Jean did. She did just that and exceeded all our expectations.”