It was announced back in the Fall of 2019 that water polo would be the next UILrecognized sport. It's the first sport to be added since 1998 when the UIL approved wrestling.
Let's just say that Baytown Sterling is ahead of its time, having fielded a team for decades at the club level.
"It starts with swimming early on with our kids. You have to have tremendous mental strength to be a swimmer and it's tough," coach Michael Fanning said. "Once they develop their love of swimming, we introduce polo. Water polo is like swimming but way more fun. They just explode when they get into the pool and start learning the sport."
Fanning has coached the sport for seven seasons and has reached the Regional Tournament every year.
"Our goal is to get back to Regions and just go deeper in the tournament this season," he said.
Leading the way for the boys' team are Christian Hofstetter (Attacker), Ryan Pickens (Point), Andre Dizon (Wing) and Nathan Eitel (Attacker). For the girls, it's Charlotte Newport (Center), Hannah Wood (Defensive Center), Hannah Bailey (Goalie) and Sara Hilyard (Wing).
"Our teams have some strategy with what they are trying to do on offense and how to react on defense," Fanning said. "Our strength is our smarts in the pool. We know what to do and when to do it. We just have to get them pumped up and a little stronger and faster in the pool.
"It takes a lot of endurance to play this sport."
Well, Baytown Sterling has a head start of most programs entering the sports first season in 2021.