PREP WATER POLO: Bear River teams dive into league play |

PREP WATER POLO: Bear River teams dive into league play

Bear River's Maddie Smith rises up to shoot during a tournament game earlier this season.
Submitted photo by Karen Blashford |

The Bear River water polo teams are about half way through their season and one thing has stood out above the rest for head coach Daryn Glasgow — character.

“No one is out here with an ego or an attitude or anything like that,” said Glasgow, who coaches both the boys and girls teams. “They all just want to learn how to play water polo and they all enjoy learning how to play water polo. It’s probably one of the best groups of people that I’ve ever had out for water polo. There is no drama.”

Senior Grace O’Callaghan echoed her coaches sentiments and sees it as her responsibility to remind her teammates they play for the love of the sport.

“As one of the leaders of the team my first goal is make sure we all get along and enjoy it,” O’Callaghan said. “You do sports because you love them, not because you have to.”

The boys and girls teams have both competed in a pair of tournaments and are now starting to dive into Capital Athletic League play where the teams have different objectives. The girls team has its sights set on the playoffs, while the boys team is focused on getting better one game at a time.

“We definitely want to start out at the same level we finished with last season so we can continue to move forward,” O’Callaghan said of the girls team. “At the end of the season last year we really rallied and discovered that we can be good in this league.”

The girls team just missed out on the playoffs a season ago. But, with nine returning players from last year’s team, the Bruins feel confident they can make a run at the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs, a place they haven’t been since 2012.

“It would be really cool to win league and we’re going to go for that, but our main goal is to qualify for sections this year,” said O’Callaghan.

In addition to O’Callaghan, Bear River has strong players in McKenzie Pallinger, Maggie O’Callaghan, Kate Herron, Maddie Smith, Victoria Cienuegos and goalie Jasmine Au.

“We’ve got some really good senior girls in Grace O’Callaghan and McKenzie Pallinger. They are returning and have really put in good time in the offseason to enhance their skills,” said Glasgow. “Maggie O’Callaghan is a sophomore and she is right in there too. Those three girls are kind of leading the way.”

The girls team has claimed two victories at both the Sierra Shootout Tournament and last weekend’s Dixon Tournament and have five wins overall. They are 0-1 in league play, having lost a tight battle with Christian Brothers. They dig back into league play today against El Camino.

The boys team is coming off back-to-back playoff appearances, but having just four returners from last year’s team and only one senior, they are taking a different approach than the girls.

“Improvement every game,” Glasgow said. “That’s the biggest thing. I haven’t placed a huge emphasis on wins and losses.”

Helping bring along the younger, less experienced players is something senior Jackson Blashford has embraced,” said Glasgow.

“Jackson is our only senior. He’s not a real vocal leader, but he’s one of those guys who will get here early because another guy said he needs extra work. He’s the first person to do that,” she said.

Blashford said he enjoys his role as mentor.

“I want to lead better,” he said of his personal objective this season. “I’m the only senior, so I want to set a better example and help teach everybody.”

Blashford said it’s not just him that has embraced the mentor role as all the returning boys players are on board with helping the younger players learn the game.

“All the experienced players are having a lot of fun teaching,” he said. “A lot of what we do (in practice) is for the new kids to learn. For the more experienced kids, we are also learning by teaching.”

The boys team is not without talent as Blashford, Dylan Sinclair, Anthony Crawford and goalie Jacob Rivett all bring certain skills to the pool.

Glasgow added that the Bruins boys team does have some up and comers in Carsten Siebels, Wyatt Ronk, Stuart Wenger and Evan Waters.

The boys team has just two wins this season, earning one victory at the Sierra Shootout tourney and another at the Dixon tourney.

Blashford said the win at the Sierra Shootout went a long way in building confidence in the boys team.

“I feel like it really boosted our morale,” Blashford said. “Most of us coming in knew it was going to be a somewhat down season, but I feel like winning that game has boosted morale.”

The boys team also gets back into league play today when they travel to face El Camino.

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email

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