St. Charles North senior Hannah Horsfall moved from Fort Wayne, Ind., before her freshman year of high school. At that point, she only had been a swimmer. Water polo was a foreign game. A little cajoling from friends changed that, ultimately paving the way to Horsfall becoming the goalie for North’s girls water polo team. Kane County Chronicle sports reporter Kevin Druley addressed Horsfall’s beginnings in the sport in the latest edition of the Weekend chit-chat, while also touching base on North’s 10-2 start. The following is an edited transcipt:
What’s been the key to the whole hot start for this team?
Defense. Defense, defense, defense, that’s all [coach Nick] Engel ever says, is your defense will lead to your offense. So if they leave me on an island and they don’t play good defense, there’s there’s not much I can do. So it’s all really good teamwork.
Have you ever played other positions?
Solid goalie. Never play anything else. As soon as you put me in the field, I’m like, ‘Whoa, what’s going on?’
Talk a little Xs and Os on the best way to defend in this sport.
When the ball’s on one side, you have one of your defenders slough, so that when they throw it to the middle, then they can crash and keep it away from them. Which is really important with really fast teams, because if it gets to them, then it’s going in the goal, because they’re going to get up and they’re going to shoot. And from the middle, you kind of have to guess where they’re going to shoot.
How much, if at all, did you play water polo as a kid?
Never did. My freshman year, everyone was like, ‘You’ve got to do it, you’ve got to do it,’ and my mom was like, ‘No. It’s your freshman year. You should take a break, make sure you focus on your schoolwork,’ because I had just moved here and didn’t know anyone. And so my sophomore year I went for it, and I’m really glad that I did. … This is my second year on varsity, and my first year [in the program], I started on the JV as the sophomore goalie. And they originally told me that I would never get to varsity, because the varsity goalie was the same year as me, but she had gotten injured so then I was moved up. That was unfortunate for her, but good for me.
You’re also on the swim team. Do polo and swimming always dovetail?
There’s occasionally a few girls that don’t swim but do play water polo, but Engel really stresses that it’s really important to do both, because if you can’t swim, then you’re not going to get down the pool.
What’s your preference between playing goal in the shallow or the deep?
I prefer the deep. We practice in the deep for varsity, so I have a much better sense of where I am in the water. Versus in the shallow end, it’s really hard to judge when you don’t practice down there where your body is going to go in the limits of the goal. … I think I feel less in control, actually, in the shallow end, because in the deep end, I really know how to push my body out of the water. Even though it’s less strenuous, I guess [in the shallow end], the timing is just so off. It’s really confusing.
How have you seen the program progress since your sophomore season?
We were just awful [back then]. We tried really hard and we really wanted to do it, but it takes a lot of time for your team to get synched with each other and get used to playing a good group effort. … Last year we made it to sectionals and we played through our first game, but we lost to Neuqua Valley.
Are you looking to play collegiately?
I’m looking to, yeah. I want to play on a club team. Because I want to be an engineer, and most of the places in the Midwest don’t have division-ranked teams, so I’m hoping to play club.