Amy Olsen, sophomore member of the Iona College women's water polo team, will chronicle this season on ICGaels.com as the Gaels look to repeat as MAAC Champions and return to the NCAA Championships. A season ago, Olsen was named MAAC Rookie of the Year and a Second Team All-MAAC Selection after scoring 95 points on 75 goals and 20 assists. Outside the pool, Olsen is a double major in English and Mass Communication with a concentration in Television and Video and writer for the school newspaper, The Ionian.
We lost our first game with Marist earlier this season by one goal, but last weekend, when we played them again, we won by two goals. There have been games this season where we have been in the lead and not pulled through for a win, so the fact that we beat Marist the second go-around was a nice landmark for us.
The past week of practice honestly reminded me of our preseason this year with regards to the intensity. We swam quite a bit, and the sets were more difficult that I had anticipated. The day that sticks out the most to me was Tuesday when we were given a swim set where we each individually had a "goal time" that we were supposed to complete for each 200 yard swim. On the very last one, not everyone made it under the time that they were assigned. Even though I knew not everyone made her goal time, I naively did not think much of it because the set in general was challenging enough to me. Coach Kelly thought otherwise. He proceeded to make us all do the swim over until we made goal time that he had given us, so it took several more tries until he made us stop. When we were finally done everyone was exhausted, and we would never have said it out loud then, but we were also secretly mad at our coach for making us do more swimming than we had originally been told we were doing. As we sat on the side of the pool wall, Coach Kelly told us that we should never go into a swim set thinking we were not going to make a goal time. We should never, at any point in time, have the thought cross our mind that we will fail. When we were warming down I was thinking about how this mentality should carry over in games. We should not start out winning only to lose or not win strong. Instead we should go into a game expecting to win and refusing to fail, something we have struggled with throughout the season.
I will admit, sometimes repetition annoys me. The same thing over and over can get old or tiring. In training it is doing something a certain number of times, and it just feels like this mental battle when you count down in your head how many more pull-ups you have done, or how many more sprints you have left. What helps me most with getting through repetition is the support of my teammates. I will come out and say right now that our team is a bunch of cheesy girls. We are constantly motivating one another, and sometimes in ridiculous ways. Our team has incorporated the term "Gael" in more ways than I had thought possible. Mackenzie Mone is known to say "That A'Gael" when somebody does something good, and Ashley DeMarzo has coined the term "Gaelfriends."
Although repetition can be annoying at times, it is also structure. It sets a standard for us and creates expectation. This weekend we have our last four games before the championship and we have a huge game against Wagner. We have beaten them before and in order to be the first seed for MAAC Championships, we have to have a repeat and beat them again.