The excitement of the crowd intensifies as the two teams scramble for the ball. The teams try to swim as fast as possible to get the ball and take it to the goal. Water splashes in all directions above the pool, while various pairs of feet frantically kick around below the surface of the clear pool water. The heavy breathing of the players is masked by the roar of the crowd and the whistles of the referee. Water polo is a vigorous sport that many students play, including Christian Jacobsen, a senior water polo player.
The intensity of water polo games is something that has thrilled Jacobsen for many years. “I started water polo in sixth grade with my sister Rachel. She would take me to the Suncoast practices and that’s where I learned the basics,” Jacobsen said. Jacobsen has played water polo for about seven years now, learning the basics at the practices at the North Palm Beach Country Club on Wednesdays and Fridays.
He played for Dania Beach for the Hurricanes as a 14 and under player for the rest of the week, even though Dania was a long way to go for his practices. “Dania was quite the distance but really helped me grow my game fundamentals as a goalie,” Jacobsen explained. He was later welcomed by Kurt Predmore, the St. Andrews water polo coach, to practice with him in Boca Raton. This opened many opportunities for Jacobsen, which led to even play with FAU’s water polo tea.
Originally playing as a goalie, he played Sunshine States with the Hurricanes 14 and under. They were able to win gold for that tournament. Later that year, Jacobsen tried out for the Junior Olympics and the Olympics Developmental Program (ODP). “I was lucky enough to go to California on both occasions as a goalie,” Jacobsen said. The last time he played as a goalie was for the Southeast Zone team, until he was finally changed in position to his current one, which is being a whole set. This position is similar to being a center on a basketball team.
“I love the fighting aspect of this position [being a whole set]” Jacobsen said, “one of the best parts about water polo is how dirty players can be underwater.” Many players can play dirty, even with nail checks in place. Nail checks are when a referee checks all the players nails to make sure they are short enough so that none of the players gets any scratch marks while playing. “Punches, kicks and suit grabbing are all a fun part of the game,” Jacobsen proclaimed. Water polo is a vigorous sport, but many of the players have lots of fun while playing.
The most intense tournament Jacobsen has had was the tournament in California. “Some of the best water polo in America is played there and getting In-N-Out after a good game is such a rewarding feeling,” Jacobsen explained. Southern California has one of the biggest pools of talent for water polo players. Many of the club teams and high school teams that attend those tournaments are heavy competition, but it can be a great learning experience for players, and it can be a chance to make new friends from across the nation.
Jacobsen had the opportunity to compete against and practice with Chino Hills Aquatics Water Polo (CHAWP), as well as L.A. Premier for a week before the Junior Olympics in 2017. “I love California. It’s an amazing place with amazing people,” Jacobsen stated. Jacobsen has aquired many valueable skills during his tournaments. The style and the energy of the players is something that is unpredictable with every tournament. Jacobsen grows more and more as a player the harder he practices and the more he plays with players from differen states. Tournaments have helped shape him as a player a lot.
Jacobsen has put countless hours in for water polo. All the practices and tournaments, as well as various camps he attended made him into the player that he is today. Jacobsen had to consider how to balance school and his passion for water polo, when applying for different colleges. “My GPA and ACT were fairly good and I didn’t want to sacrifice my school accomplishments, nor my water polo accomplishments,” Jacobsen explained. Many colleges offered him the ability to play at their schools, but Jacobsen had to think long and hard to pick the perfect college that would help him balance his studies and the hours he puts into playing the sport that he loves. He owes it all to coach Marco Barrera, the North Palm and Suncoast coach. His coaching skills helped shape Jacobsen greatly.
Jacobsen is an aspiring surgeon who hopes to attend a college somewhere in California. After having the opportunity to visit California during the summer, he has grown a great appreciation for the area. He has many possibilities waiting for him as he graduates in the class of 2019, and has many hopes for the near future.