Walking across the pool deck every afternoon will garner any passerby a good look at some of MAST Academy’s funniest and most dedicated athletes. The boys’ water polo team is known around campus for their hilarious hijinks: wearing water polo robes over their everyday clothes, tying speedos to their backpacks, breaking into song and chanting the first verse of the school’s alma mater. This year they have a lot to add to the humor: the possibility of winning a District title.
Last year the boys lost to District winners Miami Country Day in the first round of the District tournament. It was a hard fought loss that showed how hard the MAST boys are willing to fight to compete. Last year’s team has been shaped into a new one with the loss of three starters and the team’s goalie.
The team’s experienced players, seniors John Nieves and Kurtis Urquhart and junior Miguel Hernandez, are helping direct and teach the new players. Among the players who stepped up to fill the losses are juniors Mark Delic and brothers Reuben and Abraham Profeta. The team is lucky to have two dedicated goalies in junior Ivan Varela and sophomore Alejandro Pascual. New to the team but already making an impact are freshmen Fernando Sanz and Leonardo Brito.
“Garbage Truck [Pascual] has really stepped up this year. He doesn’t miss a practice, makes sure to get in extra work and is always happy and willing to play,” captain John Nieves said.
The boys won both of their preseason classic games against Coral Gables Senior High School and Miami Senior High. They also beat Terra Environmental Research Institute 12-3, and Alonzo and Tracy Mourning Senior High 18-10.
The boys won their District game on February 23, against Miami Country Day High School in their tightest game yet, with a final score of 11-9. The intense game saw an opponent red carded and a parent kicked off the deck.
“Our goal this year is more than just qualifying for Districts; we want to make it to States. Standing in our way are some big rivals, like Miami Beach Senior High and Miami Senior High,” Hernandez said.
The boys are coached by Yuniel Usin, who has been coaching MAST Academy water polo for close to 10 years, and assistant coach Alfredo Cancelo. Both have helped the boys beat tough rivals, and have used their experience to make the boys a competitive team.
The boys have combined new talent, experience, and great dedication to create a team with a lot of potential to go all the way to States.