Water polo splashes into season with new head coach

DeVries in front of her classroom at the middle school where she spends part of the school day.

DeVries in front of her classroom at the middle school where she spends part of the school day.

Kenzi Zimmerman-Frost, Staff Writer

With the start of a warmer season, spring sports are in full motion. Among these sports is women’s water polo, which currently in the middle of their season, is under new management this year, following former coaches retirement. 

The new head coach, Sam DeVries,has experience playing water polo at both the high school and collegiate level, at Grand Valley State University. She has also coached both water polo and swimming for several years at Forest Hills. Although DeVries is experienced in water polo, this is her first year coaching for the Portage team. 

As a Portage Central High School graduate, DeVries said she wanted to become a coach “back at home”. During her own schooling years, she was coached by Jim Schafer, who coached up until last year, from middle school all the way until her graduation. 

This year, DeVries said she is focusing on improving from last season’s successes, as well as building experience for the players. She said that the team has improved every game so far, and is always focusing on using practices to build up what they have learned during games. 

The team’s goalie, senior Elena Pangburn, has played water polo for roughly two and a half years. Pangburn said that it has taken the team some time to adjust to the coaching switch, however it has gone smoothly and the team loves their new coach. 

One thing that has changed though is the team’s warmups. It is now adjusted weekly, so players can improve on what they are struggling with. 

DeVries is also a teacher at Portage Central High School and Portage Central Middle School. She teaches 11th grade English, Modern American History and English Language Arts for sixth and eighth grade students. Being both a teacher and coach, DeVries has similar advice for athletes and students alike, ‘be positive and have a great attitude’.