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Andrew Woolbert: Wonderful Water Polo Captain

Tanner Lee ’23 Co-Lead Sports Editor and Sam Cherry ‘23 Assistant Sports Editor
Andrew Woolbert ’22 has been a key member of the Boys Varsity Water Polo program since his freshman year. This season, he is serving as captain along with Nick Hughes ’22.
Despite having no experience prior to ninth grade Woolbert quickly grew to love the sport. He said, “I started playing in the fall of freshman year and then I played club in the spring and summer as well every year since.” In Woolbert’s first season, he remembers “there being a lot of big kids on the team like Brian Seiter ’19, Zubin Kenkare ’19 and Julius Herzog ’20, so it was a little bit intimidating at first, but it was pretty fun once we all got into it and started having games.” One of Woolbert’s most memorable games came in that same season against water polo powerhouse Phillips Exeter Academy. “We were down one goal with fifteen seconds left in the game. We needed to get up two full courts to win and we did.”

Outside of school, Woolbert plays competitively for his club team. He said, “I heard about it from a couple of kids on the team, mostly Brian. He had played at Chelsea Piers and I just wanted to try it out, and then I went to Junior Olympics that year, and it was just really fun.”

Woolbert usually plays the point position for Hopkins, which means his job is to direct the offense from the very top of the pool as well as identify gaps in the defense, as the point is the only position that can see the entire set offense. Woolbert explained, “I like being able to see everything and know what everyone’s doing, so I can direct people to drive if there’s open space and I can see people driving if there’s open space and also push in my defender and shoot if we’re having trouble moving around.”

As captain, Woolbert has a lot of responsibilities during practices and especially during games. He said, “I have to make people swim 500 meters at the beginning of practice. Other than that, [my responsibility] is mostly to organize the team while we’re playing in games. I have to remind people what to do during [games] and where to be playing.” Woolbert has been a crucial part of Hopkins’ six wins so far this season. Hopkins coach Chuck Elrick said, “Andrew is a born leader. As a water polo player it’s like having another coach in the water. He understands the nuances of the game and is always striving to do better. Every coach should have an Andrew in their program.”

This year, both Woolbert and the team have high aspirations. He said, “[My goal for the team is] definitely getting into the New England championships and getting second or third position so that we have a chance of making it to the finals.” After having the best start to their season in twenty five years, each game brings the team one step closer to realizing their dreams of finishing first at the New England championships. Woolbert added, “Personally, I want to be able to direct the game from up top, play solid defense, and see if I can get the goal record, which is 120 in a season.” Woolbert is on pace to do so with twenty four goals already through his first six games.

Woolbert has also admired his coach for his club team, who is a European professional player himself. “He started in Denmark, and changed his citizenship to Germany to be able to play with their team. And now he’s come over to the US to coach and he’s playing on the Senior New York Athletic Club A team, and they actually just won Senior Nationals. It was fun to be able to watch him play,” said Woolbert.

Woolbert gave advice to water polo players: “Definitely just try your hardest in practice. If you have good fundamentals and fitness, you’re going to be able to beat a lot of teams. Water polo is a lot of work. It’s a lot of time put in to be able to do the sport you want to do. You just have to be willing to commit and sacrifice other things to be good at your sport.”
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