Water polo begins their inaugural season

After years as a club sport, the teams take to the pool in their opening matches as part of UIL


Sahat Sopirala

Members of the girls water polo team practice in the aquatics center.

Sahat Sopirala and Morgan Dubrow

The Southlake Carroll Water Polo team, recently integrated into the UIL, has big aspirations this season because of the opportunities the classification as a UIL sport offers. Along with the move into an official status, the team has a new coaching staff at the helm.

The team’s schedule includes both tournaments and games from August through October, and their season will end with a playoff series and possibly a championship game. They will face teams like Keller, Denton, Highland Park, Hebron, Flower Mound and even teams as far as Dallas Jesuit. 

The sport was governed by the Texas Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association for the past 50 years. Since 2002, Carroll Water Polo teams have been playing as “club” teams under the Dragon logo. Now, as a part of the UIL, the team gets more space care, and time to practice. 

“We get a lot more pool time and we don’t have to work around swim and all their practices,” Xavier Flanagan (11) said. 

Along with the transition into a UIL sport, the team is adapting to a change in coaching staff as Coach Keith Gomez takes the lead.

“It is hard to get used to new coaches, but I think that coaching strategies and getting new perspectives helps you grow as an athlete and as a team,” team captain Regan Dixon (12) said.

It is amazing to finally be more recognized and be able to be part of the school. It feels real now.

— Jojo Walters

Head Coach Keith Gomez, a former group coach for the North Texas Natadores swim team and assistant coach for the Carroll Water Polo club with 20 years of experience, has taken up planning practices, communicating with parents, and in general has taken responsibility for the team.

“Now we have to follow UIL rules,” Gomez said. “We have to follow the number of games, number of hours of practice time, etc. For the sport itself, [being in the UIL] is great because it gives greater exposure to the sport too, not only for the local area but for the state of Texas.”

After years of going to state and winning tournament titles yet not being fully acknowledged for its accolades, the transition from a club sport to a UIL sport has allowed for a greater sense of community and belonging for the water polo team.

“We are actually a school-sanctioned sport now rather than just a club representing the school,” Jojo Walters (11) said. “It is amazing to finally be more recognized and be able to be part of the school. It feels real now.”

The boys are currently 2-0 in the season and will take on Dallas Jesuit at home at 7 p.m. on Sept. 2. while the girls take on Highland Park in Dallas on Sept. 3.