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The Voice

Player Profile: Kaitlin Rooney

Emma Komar, Managng Editor

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The Voice: When did you first start swimming and how did you get involved?

KR: I started swimming when I was seven, and I swam competitively throughout elementary school and a little bit of middle school. I stopped swimming competitively when I was 12.

 

The Voice: How about water polo?

KR: I started swimming competitively again for the high school team, but I wasn’t swimming for a club anymore. My friends were like, “Hey, you should try out water polo, because you’re a swimmer so you’d probably be really good at it!” So I started playing water polo sophomore year.

 

The Voice: What are your favorite parts about swimming and water polo?

KR: I think I’ve always liked being in the water, and I think I kind of lost touch with swimming a little bit because it got kind of boring for me. You do swimming laps all the time, and when I started playing water polo, I’d always known how aggressive it was, but I didn’t know it was on another level of aggressiveness. I’m a very aggressive person, and my mom would never let me play water polo when I was younger because she didn’t want me to get hurt or hurt other people. So I think I’ve always liked that it’s a very aggressive sport, but it’s also a very dynamic sport. There’s a lot of different ways and movements that you have to be able to do while you’re in the water and while you’re standing up out of the water, so it’s very exciting. There’s always something happening.

 

The Voice: Is water polo really as brutal as everyone says? What’s the worst injury you’ve ever gotten?

KR: It’s very brutal. I would say it’s probably the most aggressive sport, and a lot of people won’t believe that, but 90% of what happens you can’t see because it happens underwater. I’m pretty lucky, I haven’t gotten a black eye or anything! The most brutal thing that’s ever happened to me is probably just the amount of scratches that I’ve had on my body. I’ve had some pretty nasty claw marks that made me bleed across my chest once, but that’s pretty much it, it hasn’t been that bad.

 

The Voice: How early are your morning practices? How do you deal with being up so early?

KR: For school, our morning practices for swimming start at 5:30, and we go 5:30-7. Those are honestly really difficult because I live in Morgan Hill, so it takes me 30 minutes or more to get to school. I’m waking up at 4:30 in the morning, and it’s just really difficult to see a four when you get up. For water polo, we do weights in the morning at 6, so that’s a little better, but I’ve been used to getting up early my whole life for sports so it honestly hasn’t been that bad. Just the fact that I live so far away makes it hard too. But it does really get you amped up for the morning. You’re more awake, and you’re not sleeping through class. You crash halfway through second period, but other than that it’s not so bad.

 

The Voice: Do you practice twice a day?

KR: When we do have morning practices (2-3 times a week) we’ll have twice a day practices because we practice every day in the afternoon.

 

The Voice: How do you manage homework and studying on top of being an athlete?

KR: I’ve been a swimmer my whole life so I’ve had to grow up learning how to manage my time between swimming and school. And as high school started to get harder during sophomore and junior year, it did get a little hard at times to get all my homework done and still go to morning practice, but that’s when you’ve got to have those days when you take a step back. Get your homework done on the weekends when you have time and don’t watch TV all day. I think sports in a way has helped me manage my time rather than making it harder for me to actually do my work.

 

The Voice: What’s one of your favorite memories of swimming or playing water polo?

KR: My favorite memory of playing water polo would probably be when I got to play at the US Open this summer. This is my second year at the Open, and we got to play against the New York Athletic Club. Basically, this is a team with olympians. It’s Ashleigh Johnson, Kami Craig, Betsey Armstrong. Literally the best people who play water polo for a living ever, and we got to play against them. We scored a goal against the best goalie in the world, and just being able to say that you played against the best people in the world is the coolest thing. Even if we got completely destroyed, it was such a cool experience.

 

The Voice: Do either of your teams have any weird rituals or superstitions that you can think of?

KR: Our water polo team is pretty tight-knit and weird. Whenever we have team dinners or anything like that, because we do go to a Catholic school we say “grace” every time before we eat. We hold hands and say “One, two, three grace!”

 

The Voice: What’s the worst part of having to be in the water all the time?

KR: Before I cut my hair, it was my hair getting all tangly. But now I have short hair, so it really just sticks up straight in weird ways. The worst part is probably if the water’s really, really cold. When it’s really hot outside it’s not that bad. But when it gets closer to winter and it’s really cold and raining outside, that’s probably the worst part.

 

The Voice: You recently became a finalist for the Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) Triple-Impact Scholarship–how much significance does this hold for you as an athlete?

KR: It’s a very, very big impact for me. I read about the award when one of my coaches introduced me to it, and just being able to say that you’re a finalist for an award out of hundreds and hundreds of people who applied is a total blessing. I never expected it to go very far because there’s so many people. The award is based on a lot of different elements of being an athlete, and just to be recognized for that is really cool.

 

The Voice: Will you be playing for college, and if so, do you know where?

KR: I don’t know where yet, but I do have my sights set on playing in college. I’m going to be visiting with LMU and Santa Clara, and hopefully they’ll ask me to play for them and I’ll be able to sign in the fall or the spring.

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Player Profile: Kaitlin Rooney