Freshman joins boys’ varsity water polo team

October 16, 2018 — by Esha Lakhotia

Freshman describes his experience in competitive and varsity water polo.

Freshman Marcus Kuo started playing water polo at age 8 after his father, who played water polo at his high school in Southern California, encouraged him to start playing. He has become so skilled that he now plays field attacker and driver for the varsity team.

“My dad really enjoys watching my practices and games and is at almost every one of my games, whether it be with my club team or high school,” Kuo said.

Along with playing on varsity, Kuo plays for Stanford Water Polo Club, which practices four times a week for two hours each, including one to two hours of strength conditioning a week. During the high school season, he has three two hour practices and two games a week. But he isn’t able to play for his club during the fall high school season due to a SHS rule against doing both at the same time.

Kuo said that the transition from club to school sports wasn’t the smoothest, but he he has slowly adapted to the Saratoga program.

“I think that suddenly going from a national-level team to the high school team, where practices aren't as intense [and at a] different skill level, played a large role in the transition being a little tough,” Kuo said. “However, I've gotten more used to it as the season has gone by and am now focusing on specific things I can work on before returning to club water polo.”

During the winter, spring and summer, Kuo will be playing with the Stanford club team.

Kuo’s brother, senior Matthew Kuo, also plays on the varsity water polo team and the two enjoy bonding over the sport.

“Since I'm off to college next year, these past months of playing water polo with Marcus has been special and I'll have lots of fun memories,” Matthew said. “Water polo is a part of our family and it's been great for my parents to see us both play on the same varsity team.”

Marcus said that being on the same team with his brother was one of the highlights of the season.

“In addition to my brother driving me to practices, we help each other when one of us sees something the other could improve on,” Marcus said.

Matthew, playing his fourth year on the high school team, was a big help to Marcus while Marcus was adapting to the new team.

“I helped my brother by getting the other players on the team to know him better, and he feels more comfortable with them now,” Matthew said.

Marcus embraces the opportunity that the school team has given him and said he is greatly enjoying his first season.

“He’s one of our best players, even as a freshman,” said teammate senior Daniel Bessonov. “He’s in the upper top 10 percent of scorers for sure. Marcus has brought a lot of prior water polo knowledge (plays, game mechanics, skill) that has significantly improved our team.”

Marcus hopes to continue his competitive water polo career both in and out of school for the rest of his four years. In addition, with his elite training, he aspires to become a collegiate level water polo player for at least one year.

This past spring, Marcus had the opportunity to train with 100 other players at the Olympic training program called Holiday Camp in Colorado Springs, Colo. This camp invites two eighth graders from the top 50 clubs in the country to play and train with the nation’s top water polo coaches.

“Being able to play at the same pool that the Olympic and national team practices at was an unforgettable experience, and motivates me to train harder,” Marcus said.

Though Marcus is not eligible to attend the program, which is only for eighth graders, again this year, he said that he hopes to use what he learned to expand his scope.

He has taken the skills learned over the summer and applied them in contributing to the success of both the club and high school team.

“I really enjoyed the water polo season with my brother and I look forward to my future years where I can improve and develop more relationships,” Marcus said.

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