1-on-1 with Jared Klee '13
This week, I sat down with men's club water polo player Jared Klee '13 to discuss the team's recent success, winning the New England Division Championship and its road to Nationals.
The water polo team won the New England Regionals two weekends ago and is now the No. 2 seed at Nationals. What do you think has led to the team's success?
JK: First off, we are ridiculously good-looking, which our opponents find incredibly intimidating. Aside from that, we have strong starters backed up by a strong bench and great coaches. We're able to sub players in for the starters to keep them fresh. As a result, we almost always have our starters well-rested. It makes us a tough team to beat.
The team had a great performance this last weekend against other Ivy League teams, including varsity teams from Princeton University and Brown University. What are the challenges of playing against other schools' varsity teams?
JK: The biggest challenge is experience. The varsity teams we played are among the best Division-I teams in the country, so they're able to recruit great players both from the U.S. and internationally. Another challenge is simply the time we spend in the water. Their seasons are longer, and they are in the water more hours per week than we are. That said, we were able to hold Princeton's second string varsity to a one-goal differential for three and a half quarters. Then, they put in their starters, ran up the scoreboard by four goals in two minutes and held on for the lead. Still, it's great for us to know that we can stay neck-and-neck with among the best recruited D-I players in the country as a club team.
The team operates as a club team, but with all this success, is there any talk of it becoming a varsity sport?
JK: There has been some chatter, but nothing serious yet. We just finished up Ivy League Championships this weekend. Ivies are made up of five club teams and three varsity teams. We won the club championships and got third place in the varsity category, ahead of Harvard University and behind Princeton and Brown. Hopefully both men and women's can become varsity programs, but it's probably a ways off.
What's the most challenging aspect of water polo?
JK: You're in the water. Imagine a 200-pound dude wrestling around with you while you try to handle and shoot a ball the size of a volleyball into the back of the net after sprinting 30 meters. Now try doing that while drowning makes everything a bit tougher.
What led you to join the water polo team?
JK: I love the physicality of the sport. I'm an ex-swimmer and was looking to stay in the water, so I was interested in playing water polo. I joined the team sophomore year, found a great group of tight-knit guys and stuck with it. The coaches are great, the team is a lot of fun, I love the sport and we're good. It's a lot easier to keep with a sport when you have a great group of guys to hang out with and keep on winning.
What is the team focusing on to prepare for Nationals?
JK: We just came off back-to-back great weekends. We're now the Ivy League Club Champions and the New England Division Champions. We're a defensive-minded team and backed up by arguably the best club goalie in the country not that we're biased or anything. For Nationals, we have to keep focusing on locking down the opponents on the defensive end. It's pretty hard to win a water polo game if you can't score, and that's been our strategy all year.
As president of the water polo club, what are your goals for the program?
JK: Continue our valued tradition of being the best looking team on campus. We also want to return to our tradition of strong runs at Nationals. We had a four-year drought leading up to this year, and we're looking for a very strong showing now that we're back. We've got a bunch of great freshmen who joined this year, and we're looking forward to seeing them lead the team in future years.