Daily Camera (Boulder)

Front Range youth making a splash on national team

- By Andrea Grajeda Prairie Mountain Media

Water polo may not be as popular in Colorado as other sports, but that didn’t stop six Front Range athletes from being selected to the national roster for the USA Water Polo Youth National Games.

The Olympic Developmen­t Program serves as the primary source for kids to join the USA youth water polo team. The athletes first completed tryouts for the ODP in November. Then 28 are selected for their regional zone. Thousands of kids try out for a chance to represent one of the 13 zones across the country. Athletes from Colorado, Nevada, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico make up the Mountain Zone. Then 14 kids from each age and gender division are chosen to compete at the national level.

The kids who made the national roster and play club water polo at the Broomfield Community Center best describe water polo as a mix of soccer and basketball in the water, while being expected to tread water the entire time. Boulder’s Wesley Schlachter, who made it to the national level for the first time in the boys’ 16 and under division, said that games are played in teams of seven, including a goalie.

Schlachter said that he heard that the Mountain Zone athletes are not usually considered the best players, so making it to the national roster is a chance for his team to dispel that rumor.

“Being able to play at that level and show that we actually are on par with everyone else is pretty cool,” Schlachter said.

Water polo is relatively small in Colorado, but the state is represente­d in every division for boys and girls this year.

“I think it’s pretty cool that even though it’s small, we can still get together and represent Colorado,” said Aurora’s Sarah Woren, a Cherokee Trail High School student who was selected to the girls’ 18 and under division roster.

Sarah Woren said that she was a swimmer, but she felt that she had plateaued. She said that swimming is an individual sport, and she was drawn to the team playing and community of water polo.

“I’ve never played a sport where I’ve been so close with the team, like we all hang out all the time and it feels like a family,” Sarah Woren said.

Joshua Woren, also a Cherokee Trail High School

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