Schiering steps up as varsity goalie

Gabe Schiering (10) cannot recall a time he’s been more nervous. It was his first varsity game, playing as goalie against Poway, Oct. 13. He could feel his heart beating, his breath quickening, and the hairs on his body standing on end as the combination of anxiety and the cold pool overwhelmed him. And yet, nothing could top the excitement that came along with it. He treaded the waters of the pool, blocking shot after shot as the opposing players attempted to score. But even with his excitement built up, he knew he couldn’t let the ball past him.

“I was pretty nervous [my] first game,” Schiering said. “It was our big game. If we won that, we would not have as much competition because they are the hardest team in our league, so if we beat them, we had a really big chance of winning the league. It was nerve-wracking.”

A little over a year ago, Schiering barely knew what water polo was; in fact, he joined last year on a whim. And here he was, goalie on varsity in the team’s biggest game of the season.

“[My freshman year] I went to registration and this senior that was hanging out at one of the booths said he was going to water polo tryouts later that day, and it was Tuesday so tryouts start-ed on Monday, and I just said ‘Hey, I want to come,’” he said.

He then played on the novice team for the rest of the year. Something changed, however, when he began to practice as goalie. A part of him emerged—a part he wasn’t familiar with. A part that he said was “naturally good” that “just made [water polo] easy.” He moved up to JV halfway through the season.

After discovering his newfound love for the sport he previously had no familiarity with, Schiering joined the club team Pacific Polo and practiced with them over the summer, determined to improve. He started off this year on JV, eager to return to the fast-paced environment water polo provided for him. He joined his team in their weight lifting practices after school and on the weekends, practicing with varsity every chance he got.

When varsity goalie Milos Lewit (11) broke his pinkie halfway through the season, Schiering was granted the opportunity to prove himself on varsity. In his first varsity game against Poway, the top team in the league, Shiering made 12 blocks, helping Westview secure a 9-8 win.

Schiering credits part of his success to the encouragement he receives from his teammates.

“Everybody’s really encouraging,” Schiering said. “No one ever broke me down, they just pull me up. Like after a game, [everybody] says ‘great job’ all the time, and ‘you are doing really well, that’s great.’”

Because of the advanced category, which consists of JV players who are strong competitors that included Shiering, he was granted with the opportunity to practice with varsity for most of his time on JV.  Because of this, he was able to grow a bond with the varsity teammates prior to his time on the team.

According to Shiering, another contributer to his success with the sport is his past experience with athletics. Having played baseball for many years and participated on Westview’s team for one, he said he gained strong arms that helped him adjust to the strength needed in water polo.

One year ago, Schiering fell in love with the sport. He said that his teammates, combined with the fast-paced nature of the game provide him with a rewarding experience—one that he plans to continue to have through the rest of high school.

Now, when he gets in the pool, the feelings that overwhelm him don’t match the anxiety of his first game. Instead, they are full of excitement and gratitude to be a part of the team.