The Long Beach State men’s water polo team has experienced a distinctively different way of building team chemistry this season amid the coronavirus pandemic.
With some teammates out of the country like attacker Rafael Vergara, who is currently back home in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the team has relied heavily on Zoom while trying to adjust to being completely off campus.
“I don’t like the online Zoom classes. It’s hard to organize the time to get everything done,” Vergara said. “In the spring, we had two months of classes and I was doing well. I think I will be way better than expected as the semester goes on.”
Not being allowed to utilize school facilities, teammates still in the area have actively been working in coordination with the athletics department’s strength trainers on curated workouts.
According to head coach Gavin Arroyo, the team has gotten creative with working on their own individual regimented workouts. Players have gone as far as filling up sandbags and using them as weights at home.
“Our strength trainers have set them up for success,” Arroyo said. “One thing that we’re really trying to focus on is the magnitude of the situation we’re in. The administrators are trying to get us back to play in a safe environment as soon as possible.”
To combat not being able to practice at the Ken Lindgren Aquatic Center like normal, utility Garret Zaan has been setting up a shooting cage outside of Huntington Beach harbor for teammates to hold socially distanced practice.
“You really start to realize how out of shape [you are] and the muscle memory you lost when practicing again after a while,” Zaan said. “I’d say it’s been a big challenge with COVID-19. It’s hard to communicate and it’s way easier in person to keep everyone in line.”
Vergara, a fourth-year business marketing major, said he has been fortunate to have daily access to a gym and pool in his hometown of Sao Paulo.
To keep himself occupied while not in class or training, Vergara has been indulging in economic books about the stock market.
“In the beginning of the semester, it was really hard for me to get adjusted. I’d come back and try to work out and get distracted easily,” Vergara said. “I miss my teammates a lot. Right now I’m going to have some coffee and go run, I’m just trying to get something to do.”
Arroyo said that despite the setbacks the team has experienced thus far, he feels the team is still collectively gearing for a season even if it may not be this year.
“You know, the infection at some point is going to go away. We’re going to be able to train and play at some point, so everything that we’re doing now is just going to put us in a better place for the future,” Arroyo said. “This definitely makes you hungry to practice and appreciate the practices that we were able to do in the past, and I just think when the floodgates open, it’s gonna be really great.”