Coaching change should not slow down water polo team's progress

Photo Credit: JEFF WILSON/THE PIONEER - Senior Brady Tucker is back in the net for the Madras boys water polo team once again this year.Someone once said that all change is good.

But for a high school water polo team chasing state titles, changing coaches just weeks before the season starts might not fall into that category. But in the case of the Madras polo team, they don’t seem to be worried about change, at all.

“So far, it’s been great because we are just a big family and Doug is the one that is new to it,” Brady Tucker said. “It’s been great and I am looking forward to this year.”

The translation there is that this team does not expect to take steps back or even see things leveling off just because of a coaching change. They are looking to move straight ahead and continue to build toward becoming one of the premiere water polo teams in the state.

And Calvin is the right guy to keep them on that course.

When Bobby DeRoest, who started this program some five years ago, stepped down to take a job in Portland, there was a scramble to find not only a good fit, but just a fit to step in. Luckily for Madras, the right guy was already in the area.

Calvin, who has a rich history as both a player and coach in the sport, has been a close friend to this team, refereeing games in the area over the years or just sitting in the stands to watch.

He is as familiar with this team as DeRoest was and slides nicely into place, even on short notice.

“It’s been easy because of the kids; they are a great group of kids,” Calvin said. “It doesn’t matter what their skill level is, they all get along. They are a very cohesive group.”

With DeRoest and Calvin having pretty much the same philosophy, the transition has been a seamless one. DeRoest left the program in great shape, and Calvin is picking up on that and trying to move it forward.

“Their ability to listen and take direction, it’s already there. And you can tell they have already been through that,” Calvin said. “As players, they are already receptive to being coached, and that’s huge.”

A lot of times, Calvin pointed out, new coaches are fighting the old system or worse, find a group that has not been coached up, at all.

This is not the case with this group. Calvin inherits a group sound in the fundamentals of the game and one that is ready to move forward. Now.

But there are a few little details both coach and players must get used to. And they are pretty simple issues.

“Just learning how to run his drills and learning how he sounds,” senior Cade Boston said of the differences. “Bobby was pretty loud, you could really hear him. So having that is different.”

Calvin does have a softer voice, but he brings with him a loud and long list of experiences. He has played and coached polo across the globe and that has given him a pocket full of drills and exercises to run.

Many of them are new to this team, but they are getting things down. And most like the new alternatives.

“We’re all going to miss Bobby; he set the bar pretty high,” Aurora Gehphardt said. “But Doug and Bobby play very, very similar games.”

The signs that the program is moving forward were evident last week at a jamboree in Redmond. With just a few days of practice with Calvin, both the boys and girls team cruised through the competition and looked good doing it, neither suffering a loss all day.

That just reinforces the fact that things are going to be fine.

“I’m pretty confident in what we can do,” Gerhardt said.

Madras will have the numbers once again to field both a full boys and girls team. And both expect to be factors as the season moves along.

Fundamentals, which both teams are sound in, will carry them for the first part of the season, Calvin said. Once he has spent more time around each team, he said he will decide what changes, if any, are needed.

So for now, it just move forward, hard and straight.

“We all know each other and how each other plays,” Cirelle Frank said. “We have a couple of new faces, but they have played with us before and they are all brothers or sisters of the team. So they’ve seen us play for years and years now. We’ll be fine.”

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