The South Peninsula Water Polo Club (SoPen), made up of high school water polo players from Menlo School and other local high schools, hosted its 7th annual water polo clinic this past summer with members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula at the Menlo School pool.
Instead of a focus on creating Division 1 athletes, this clinic is about teaching elementary and middle-school boys and girls about nutrition, motivation, and being their best. It is also a chance for the high school athletes to become teachers and mentors for a few days.
"One of the best aspects of the clinic is that everybody gets to experience something new," said Menlo senior Nick Goldman. "We become coaches and leaders and the kids get to try out being water polo players."
Most kids come to the clinic with little to no water polo experience. But, with the help of their coaches, the children are able to improve their swimming, learn how to pass and shoot the ball, and even run an offense.
That is why the kids are shown how to eat healthful foods, stay active, and stay motivated through whatever challenges they endure. The SoPen philosophy of "Be Your Best" is applicable to many aspects of life and the coaches teach the kids how they can "be their best" no matter what they are doing.
"All of the SoPen players really take the idea of 'being your best' very seriously, so we felt like that was very important that we pass that philosophy on to the children we were training," said Menlo senior Brad Haaland.
When the kids are in the water, they are learning how to throw the ball, play defense, and tread water. When they are out of the pool, they are chatting with their coaches about their favorite book, a time they have tried and failed, and how to face challenges.
At the end of the clinic, the campers were given a SoPen T-shirt and a certificate for their participation.