This article originally appeared in the Pasadena Independent.
Polytechnic junior Sean Zheng has high expectations for the water polo team this season. Although the team lost several seniors, he thinks they will have a good chance to get back to the CIF-SS Division Five playoffs.
Zheng will be a leader on the squad, after earning team MVP both his freshman and sophomore years. He aims to earn first-team all CIF again, after earning it freshman year, but only getting second-team last year. Zheng thinks this was because he switched positions during the season.
“I’m excited for this season. We did lose a lot of players but we kept a lot of key underclassmen so it will be interesting to see how they step up,” Zheng said. “We also have a new head coach. He’s pretty hard core and professional, so I’m interested to see what changes he’ll make.”
Although this is his third year on the high school team, Zheng has played water polo for nearly six years. He used to swim but grew tired of it.
“It wasn’t really interesting for me. It was just back and forth, back and forth. It didn’t seem like there was any thinking involved in it,” Zheng said. “Water polo incorporated my swimming skills but it’s not as one dimensional as swimming.”
When the high school season ends, Zheng plays club water polo.
“The competition level in high school is a lot different than in club water polo. It’s a lot more competitive in club,” he said. “On my club team, I’m an average player, maybe a little better than average. On my high school team, I’m one of the best players.”
Although he likes playing club more for the competition, Zheng said he loves the camaraderie on Poly’s team.
“There’s a lot of team spirit. It’s really like a family, like a brotherhood,” he said. “One time the whole team performed a Haka dance, which was really fun. It was kind of embarrassing, but the point was that we did it together, so it was embarrassing for all of us.”
After high school, Zheng said he wants to go to a top college. He said he’s on the fence about playing water polo in college.
“I want to focus more on academics,” Zheng said. “I’m not sure where I’m going to go yet. It might be somewhere really close to here or it might be an Ivy League. The location doesn’t matter to me as much as the school itself.”
This goal is very achievable for Zheng, who has a 3.93 weighted GPA. He isn’t sure what he wants to study in college yet. He said he’s in an online neuroscience course right now that he enjoys but he wants to explore other avenues as well.
Outside of water polo and school, Zheng likes to play video games, watch TV, and play with his cat. He also plays piano.
For now, Zheng is focused on improving the teams record from 15-10 last year and going deeper in the playoffs.