Archie Williams High School boys varsity water polo seniors reflect on season after win against Redwood High School


Avery Yudice

AWHS varsity boys embrace in a group hug following their win.

The AWHS boys varsity water polo team celebrated their graduating seniors after an intense game against Redwood High School on May 26. Overcoming a four-point deficit, the AWHS boys water polo team came back to take home the win. 

“That was by far the most stressful game of the season,” said Tate Miller, an AWHS varsity player who will play water polo at Occidental College in the fall. 

The eventful game ended with a final score of 13-12. After being down by four goals in the third quarter, the team rallied together to overcome the deficit. Isaiah Williams, a senior at AWHS, scored two goals in the third quarter with the addition of Robert Heilemann’s goal, tying the game. In the fourth quarter, junior Bennett Steiger scored the final goal with 1:30 minutes remaining to end the game. 

“There was a point where there was one minute and thirty seconds left and [Redwood] had the ball and we were up by one and something just hit me right there, and I felt like I was on the verge of tears, like almost crying,” said Williams who will attend Duke University in the fall.

Fans pack the stands as they watch the AWHS boys varsity water polo game on May 26, 2021. (Avery Yudice)

After the game, AWHS seniors Tate Miller, Isaiah Williams, Leif Lacy, Dylan Ramirez, Clayton Stout and Robert Heilemann recognized the support of their families as they gave them flowers and took pictures. 

“Water polo has been such a huge part of my life and knowing this is the last game that I’ll be playing here… and knowing that I won’t be playing next year in college. Just a lot of emotions crashing together, both happy and sad,” Williams said.

With only two games left, the boys reflected on their season, with messages attributed to both their own personal experiences and to younger players. 

“Working with a team is another thing that water polo taught me. In the pool you either swim or drown with your team, meaning that you have to depend on them to cover your back or you all face the consequences,” said Leif Lacy, who is committed to the University of California, Santa Barbara to play water polo next year.  

For most of the young men on the team, this marks the end of their four year era at AWHS. With more excitement and some grief, the graduating seniors believe that the future of AWHS water polo is in good hands. 

Williams and his teammates also described the feeling of it all being over too quickly. After the game, Lacy gave kudos to Heilemann as a way to express gratitude and compassion at the end of their AWHS Water Polo careers.

“The funniest guy on the team, hands down, is Robert Heilemann. I’ve never met a guy with more comedic genius than him, but he holds the record for most push-ups done on our team because he’s a jokester in practice too,” Lacy said. 

Coach Matt Swanson celebrates their victory as cheers radiate from the fans. (Avery Yudice)

The varsity boys water polo team will remain close despite parting ways, as they have become an unstoppable force and unbreakable family throughout the past few years. 

“With our senior class out the door, I know that the future of AWHS water polo is in good hands, and I am so excited to see where water polo takes all of you in the future,” said Lacy.