Get in with Ord

By Gus Bode

Editor’s note: This is the 15th and final story in a weekly series featuring recreational opportunities at SIU and the southern Illinois region.

SIUC is home to myriad sport clubs students are invited to get involved in, such as soccer, rugby and swimming. But for someone looking for one activity that encompasses aspects from all three of the aforementioned sports, look no further than the water polo club.

‘Water polo is a little like playing soccer in the water,’ said Pamela Perschler, club president. She said that as in soccer, the aim in water polo is to pass a ball down a field and get it in the goal.


The SIUC water polo club travels to competitions within Illinois and Iowa to compete against other college and city water polo clubs. In addition to water polo matches, the club typically participates in two tournaments each semester, one away and one hosted by the club at SIUC, Perschler said.

The club’s season ended about a month and a half ago, but Perschler, a graduate student from Carbondale studying psychology, said practices would resume a few weeks into the spring semester.

According to the Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) Web site,, water polo was first played in the United States in 1888. In 1900, water polo became the first team sport to be included in the Olympic Games, though women were not allowed to compete at the Olympic level until the 2000 Games in Sydney.

Paul Trainor, a senior from Bloomington-Normal studying aviation technology and aviation management and a former goalie for the water polo club, said the sport still seems to be male-dominated, as most of the teams SIUC faced were composed of men. However, Trainor said the women in the sport are as aggressive and intense as the men.

‘I’ve definitely played against girls who could kick my butt very badly,’ Trainor said.

Female involvement has greatly increased in recent years, said Ed Haas, Director of Communication for the CWPA. Haas said women’s clubs and teams are the fastest-growing group in the league.

Haas said water polo is one of the most violent and aggressive sports because of the inherent amount of physical contact. He said athletes are constantly getting scratched, hit by flailing arms or kicked. The sport is even more violent than it seems from a spectator standpoint, because those watching a match only see what is happening above the surface of the water.


‘(Water polo) is probably the only sport where you only see half of what actually occurs in the game,’ Haas said.

He said water polo is a sport anyone can play, though an ability to swim, excellent peripheral vision and an ability to catch a ball one-handed are helpful.

Perschler said the club welcomes athletes of any skill level, from people who have never swam to those who have played water polo for several years. She said new members will be taught the skills and techniques specific to the sport, such as a kick called the ‘egg beater,’ which is used for treading water.

‘If anyone likes team sports, (water polo) is a good sport to play because it’s a good team sport and a good workout … and it’s just a fun sport to play,’ Perschler said.

Audra Ord can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 275 or [email protected].