The end of an era: Boys varsity water polo class of 2022 celebrates victory against Novato High on senior night


Naomi Betz

Senior Cole Wooster holds the ball out of the water while looking to pass it to a teammate.

On Tuesday, Oct. 19, the AWHS Varsity boys water polo team reigned victorious over  Novato High School, concluding their home games for the regular season. AWHS defeated Novato by a score of 18-7. The varsity squad enters the postseason undefeated with a record of 17-0. 

During the senior night game, AWHS seniors Jake Dixon, Dominic Haggard, Tucker Briggs, Bennett Steiger, Luke Willis, Philip Mason, Daniel Hadar, Nick LaFave, Cole Wooster, and Alden Jones were commemorated for their great leadership skills throughout their years on the team. 

Senior Tucker Briggs passes the ball to the flank of the pool. (Naomi Betz)

It was an emotional night for many of the players. After the game, every senior received a bouquet of flowers and posed for pictures with their families and friends. For the majority of the team that will not play water polo in college, this is their final season.

“It was a nice senior night, good vibes all around,” Dominic said.

The Falcons dominated the Oct. 19 game from start to finish. By the end of the game, Jake, Dominic, and Bennett combined to score over 10 goals. 

“Everyone got to play and we played well, we won by a lot and I feel like we shared the ball very well” Nick said.

Led by the seniors, AWHS is currently the number one team in North Coast Section (NCS) and ranked seventh in the country. The team has benefited from the fact that in practice, they are competing against some of the best water polo players in the country: their own teammates.

“While really battling, working hard [I’ve learned that] iron sharpens iron,” Daniel said.

This generation of young water polo players have had to follow in the footsteps of one of the best teams in AWHS history: the boys varsity water polo team of 2018. When the current seniors were freshmen, the AWHS (then Drake High School) team won the first North Coast Section (NCS) title in the school’s history. The then young freshman have since then been tasked with bringing AWHS water polo back to the top of NCS and the nation. 

 “They are the next generation after we won a title, they have built it back up and now we are one of the top NCS teams again,” Coach Matt Swanson said. “They have done a great job of putting us back on the map.”

Many of the players attribute their great success to the chemistry they have built in and out of the pool. 

Senior Jake Dixon preparing to pass the ball to start the AWHS offense. (Naomi Betz)

“I love the coaches, I love the players, just excellent teamwork,” Philip said. 

Most of these young men have played on the AWHS team all four years of their time in high school. These four years have allowed them to gel as a team, with connections that are only found few and far between.

“It has been really cool to watch us gel as a team because we have all been friends since we were 8 years old,” Jake said.

These seniors have not just become teammates, but “siblings”. During the water polo season they spend countless hours with each other in and out of the pool, leading to a bond stronger than any other..

“These people are my family,” Alden said.

The team has improved drastically since the current seniors came into the program. As freshmen the varsity team had a record of 18 wins and 9 losses, as sophomores they went 13-12, and last year as juniors, they went 7-1 in a season shortened due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently the boys are undefeated and are one of the top teams in the nation.

With the regular season coming to a close, the boys water polo team now looks towards playoffs. The Falcons will play in the Marin County Athletic League (MCAL) playoffs and in the NCS playoffs with hopes of winning both tournaments.

As their chapter at AWHS ends, the seniors act as an example for the underclassmen who are making their own way through the program.