At the start of the season, Maryland’s water polo team was officially placed on life support as the Terrapins have to reach a fund-raising goal in order to save their program. Despite the potential black cloud looming, Maryland has roared out of the gate to the highest ranking in the program’s history.
The Terrapins are led by Carl Salyer, who has been the head coach since 2004. He has guided Maryland to two third-place finishes at Eastern Championships, two CWPA Southern Division Tournament titles and an outright win of the CWPA South last spring.
Now he faces his toughest challenge yet, leading the effort to save Maryland’s water polo team.
Your program had a difficult start to the season outside the pool with news that Maryland may be cutting water polo. Despite that, the Terps got off to an incredible start that includes achieving your highest ever national ranking. How does the team do it?
Salyer: It has been a lot of fun. The strong start is because of our team’s focus. When we heard the news about the possible dropping of our program, I told the team that we can live in the problem or live in the solution. They are living in the solution and are playing great as a team. They are very coachable and could not have responded better. They are focused in both the pool and classroom. I thank them for letting me be associated with them.
How has the fundraising been going and how can water polo fans help?
Salyer: It has been a little slow which is frustrating. We have only raised $25,000. We need to get the water polo community more aware and energized. One thing we have been working on with our administration is extending our timeline so that we can come up with a smaller number by June 30. I think people’s biggest fear is that they will donate money and that money will go elsewhere. That will not happen. All money will be returned if the program is dropped.
We need donations to come from a broad base of support. We need to show the community supports us, before we can get access to some of the big money people. Please follow us on Twitter (@MarylandH2OPolo) and Facebook (SAVE UMD WATER POLO) and you can donate at or by texting UMDWP to 64274.
Shelby Reyes is off to a great start to the season. What makes her such a special player?
Salyer: I know we talked about her earlier this year and I said it then. Shelby is a gamer. She lives and breathes water polo. Against Pacific on Saturday, Shelby started off shaky but then really righted the ship. We went on a 6-1 run and she was a huge part of it. Even when she does not have her “A” game she figures out how to get in the game. The highest compliment I can give is calling someone a gamer. Shelby is one of our team captains, and both of them are showing great leadership.
Your team is getting great production from Allison Campbell, Zoe Respondek, Simone Lewis and Katie Ermokova. A strength is your team’s balance. What other strengths does your team display?
Salyer: Our strength is that we play great team water polo. These kids have been great. Zoe and Campbell have been great at getting steals. They have outstanding communication in the pool. Against Santa Clara, every girl on the team but one had at least one steal. It goes back to the great team effect. Simone is having a breakout year both offensively and defensively. Katie is unstoppable when she is on. She has a real rocket arm and has really matured this year.
Beyond that, the team has really done a great job of finding their roles; Christine Goetsch and Rebecca Gerrity are doing a great job at two-meter defense. Molly Ruth and Danielle Robinson have been tremendous off the bench and are doing whatever has been asked of them at both ends of the pool. Carly Hoshko and Nicole Tobin are really testing teams at the center position and are doing a great job at drawing ejections and scoring goals.