Whitney takes on tough competition for program benefit

Bella Vista demonstrates years of work in the water
By: Jim Linsdau Placer Herald Sports Editor
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The Whitney High School water polo teams took on one of the area’s top programs, Monday. The scores certainly weren’t in the Wildcats’ favor, but the learning experience should go a long way. Whitney hosted Bella Vista with the Whitney girls’ team pushing the Broncos before falling, 6-3. The Wildcats held Bella Vista in check until the final period when the visitors put two shots into the net. Whitney’s Michelle Sterri scored her club’s first goal to tie the Broncos 1-1 after one period of play. Colleen Daley then put the home club up by one on a penalty shot, but Bella Vista answered with three of their own to take a 4-2 halftime lead. “This is a very tough team,” said Whitney girls water polo head coach Kari Ustaszewski. “We played better against this team than we have in the past so there’s definitely some improvement that’s occurring with these girls.” In the third quarter Stephanie Henderson hit on a long shot from out front, but it would be the last goal for the Wildcats. Boys – The varsity boys were unable to get on the board as Bella Vista capitalized on the Wildcats inexperience and came away with a 15-0 win. “They have a year-round program,” said Whitney boys water polo head coach Steve Casperite. “Their coach personally doesn’t have a year-round program, but those guys play year-round water polo.” California Interscholastic Federation prohibits any school from creating programs outside the confines of CIF regulations. However, many coaches do encourage their players to enroll in other leagues during the off-season. “Because (Whitney’s) program is so new it doesn’t have a real big draw of athletes,” Casperite said. “When you play a team like Bella Vista, the average kid over there has been playing water polo since he was 11.” Casperite said he has, perhaps, two players with four-years experience. Coach Casperite said he would like to see a summer youth program started. He said Rocklin needs to develop an outside program where players can get more experience when not competing during the prep season. Ustaszewski echoed Casperite’s sentiments saying without having an outside league where the Wildcats can get the work they need to improve, the school’s program would continue to lag behind. “We are quite limited on our feeder program because of the contract for the city’s use of the pool in the summertime,” Ustaszewski said. “When our kids come into the program we try to send them into winter polo, summer polo, because we are bound by CIF rules.” Ustaszewski said Sierra College and Roseville are the nearest available club programs available for Rocklin players.