The Boise State water polo club has not participated in a conference until this season. With a 5-3 record on the season, the Broncos have a good shot at making the Men’s National Collegiate Club Championship tournament for the first time in club history.
In 2016, the Boise State water polo club had a total of eight members on its team. Today, that number of participants has more than tripled to 28 players on the current roster; seven of the 28 players on the team are female.
Senior finance major Jared Hall remembers what it was like to hardly have enough players to complete a team. Hall is one of only two members going into their fourth season with the team, and he recognizes the progressive action that has taken place over the past few seasons.
“In years past, we were more focused on gaining experience with being in the water,” Hall said. “Now we’re in a new league with good teams. If we win our next tournament, we can even go to nationals in Pennsylvania, which we’ve never done before. There’s been more of a ‘we need to win’ aspect now. I think our club president Eli has done a good job in instilling that mindset in others.”
Much of the Broncos’ turnaround is a result of the president and team captain Eli Foli’s mindset. Foli also serves as the team’s head coach. A season ago, the Broncos had a reputation of being a laid back club. While Foli wants nothing more than for his team to enjoy their experience, he recognizes that a change has to be made.
“We are currently in a transition. We’re not laid back to the point where if you’ve never played, you are going to be on the travel squad,” Foli said. “Going forward I see it being laid back, but still having a competitive team where you show up to practice to have a good time, but you work hard while you’re there.”
Before each tournament, Foli decides which players will travel with the team. Typically, 21 of the 28 players make the traveling roster. Foli uses his own method for deciding who to send.
“I base the travel roster off of attendance, attitude and, at the end of the day, skill,” Foli said.
Despite what may seem like a cutthroat environment, members of the team have been genial to newcomers.
“What I like about this team is that guys are very welcoming,” said freshman Jaden Wong. “There’s other teams where I’ve gotten a cold shoulder from others until I prove myself. This team is very welcoming. It’s been really easy to just jump in.”
The team competes in the Collegiate Water Polo Associate Northwest Division. Other schools competing in the conference include Western Washington University, University of Washington, Oregon State University and a newly acquainted rival, the University of Oregon.
After going 1-3 to start the season, the Broncos have turned things around and are riding a four-game winning streak. The team hopes to keep their momentum going into their division championship which will determine whether or not they make it to the Men’s National Collegiate Club Championship. The division championship will be determined on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 2-3, as Washington hosts the six-team, nine-game event at Rogers High School in Pullayup, Wash.
“We all really want to go to Nationals to put Boise State water polo on the map,” Hall said. “We played Oregon State in our last tournament who had been undefeated for three seasons, and we beat them. We want other schools to respect us and see us as competition.”