A 12-and-under water polo team on the Central Coast with players from Lompoc to Paso Robles started off as a group of friends having fun in a backyard pool. Now, the One Way water polo team is making history as they prepare for their biggest endeavor yet.
"I started working with my son and one of his friends in a their backyard pool, just the two of them," explains Miles Whitfield, one of the coaches of One Way. "Gradually that group of two turned into a group of about eight or ten."
That group is now One Way’s U12 water polo team preparing for a trip to the 2017 Junior Olympics. After falling short last year, One Way now has one goal.
"Last year we missed it by one place to qualify and they just took that as a challenge and have worked so hard since then," Charlie Bell said, one of the coaches of One Way.
The One Way team is the first 12-and-under team with players between Lompoc and Paso Robles to advance to the Junior Olympics.
Before heading off to the national championships, the team worked with a former Olympian and former Team USA player, Greg Enloe. However, the key to their success is their bond.
"This is where it all started. We all are going to bond. All the training is useful. All of this is where it all starts… at the competitive level," said Aidan Fitzpatrick, One Way water polo player. "We’re all friends. This is going to be really fun. adventure to ride on."
"Even when we’re not at water polo we talk about water polo and try to figure things out and it’s water polo, water polo, water polo," said Logan Todd, One Way water polo player.
The team’s unselfish nature and dedication to each other helped the club post a 4-2 record in the Coastal Zone qualifying tournament.
While preparing for the big stage, some of these boys are preparing for a big future.
"They’re wonderful watermen as we like to call them. They really have had a lot of fun doing this over the last couple years and I see a lot of them continuing for a long time..for many years," Whitfield said.
"My long term goal… is either being on the national team or an Olympian," said Lucas Anderson, One Way water polo player.
The USA Water Polo Junior Olympic Championships is the largest age group water polo tournament in the Nation. The Junior Olympics Tournament consists of two divisions, the Championship Division and the Classic Division. Teams compete over a 4-day period within their respective age category.
Competition starts on July 22 in Orange County, California.