A deeper pool of water polo players

August 05, 2009|By Mary O’Keefe

In an early-afternoon game Saturday, the Burbank girls 10-and-under team took to the water to compete against Pasadena. But how well the Burbank side played wouldn’t matter because the team had to forfeit the game due to lack of girls competing.

They were there as part of the city’s summer aquatics program at McCambridge Park pool.

“We have to have at least three girls on the team, and two must be in the water at all times,” said Coach Bob Farmer.

The water polo team is sponsored through the City of Burbank’s Park and Recreation and funding from LA 84, a foundation that came together during the 1984 Olympics games to support youth swim programs. There are about six cities that are part of it and compete with Burbank, said Erin Barrows, the city’s recreation supervisor.


The season began in June, and practices are Monday through Friday. The teams are divided into 10 girls each who are 14 and younger. They began their games on July 11.

But Claire Dugger was the only girl who showed up for the match, and so was lumped in with the boys.

“It’s exciting and fun. It is a good workout, but you can get tired,” she said.

This was the first year she had played water polo, as it was for almost all the players on the team.

“I like the sport. It’s exciting, and it moves fast,” said Adam Lueneburg. He already plays baseball, basketball, soccer and football and was on the Burbank swim team last year, but this time, he wanted a new challenge.

“I like winning,” said teammate Emilio Godinez.

The players spoke about how they liked the program even though the Monday through Friday workouts were a little rough.

“When she comes home from practice she is tired,” said Mack Dugger, Claire’s father.

Even though it was a forfeited game, the team played hard against Pasadena.

Farmer praised them for their teamwork and effort, but said it was frustrating that they had to forfeit.

“I would like to talk to the [organizers] and see if there is anything we could do, but the rules are the rules,” Farmer said.

He added that he liked the co-ed teams and thought it taught kids to work together.

“I think it teaches them to communicate. I know when I was their age, I didn’t communicate well with girls,” he said.

Dugger said water polo is a great sport for girls and wished more would sign up.

“If something is really bothering you, this gives you a way to work it out,” Dugger said.

In the meantime, being in sports with boys is nothing new for Claire.

“Last year she played on a flag football team. There were 29 boys and her,” said Claire’s mother, Addie Dugger.

Claire said girls should join the teams not only to help them compete and not forfeit but because it is good to be on teams with boys.

“Basically sometimes boys think they are better than girls, but when you are on a team and playing together they think of you as an equal,” she said.

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