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Feature Article


May 22, 2013

The 2013 All-Illpolo Team Awards Guide

By Aaron Brown


Postseason awards are meant to provide recognition for the performances of the best high school athletes in the state of Illinois. Whether it's All-Conference, All-Sectional, All-State, All-Illpolo, or some other form of recognition, the purpose is to leave players with a positive feeling at the end of a long and difficult season. Unfortunately, this can also lead to disappointment when a player gets overlooked or when questions arise about the process with which a decision is reached. Hopefully, this provides a little clarity to how these specific teams have been determined and hopefully this is a positive end to the season for most water polo athletes.


The Process
To give you an idea of how these teams are selected, I sit down with the team rankings and list the top-performing players from each team. Once the pool of players and their order has been determined, I begin dispersing the players into the team categories (First Team, Second Team, Third Team, etc.). Generally, the top three teams will get 5-6 players throughout the teams, the remaining teams in the Top 10 get 4-5 players, teams ranked 11-20 will get 2-3 players, and anyone below the Top 20 may get 1-2 players.


Performance vs Scouting
In my opinion, the fair way to determine these awards is to look at player performance over the course of an 11-week season balanced with the overall team performance. I am not a scout evaluating player talent at a draft combine, so these lists are not to be looked at as "this player is better than that player" - instead, the approach taken is one where the top player on the #18 team is naturally going to outperform the fifth option on the #3 team statistically, even if the fifth option might get recruited to play at the collegiate level and play on a Zone team.


Team Order
There is no ranking done within each team. Players are listed based on their team's performance during the 2013 season, so a player from the #1 team can be found at the top of each list and so on.


Comparison To All-State Teams
The All-State Teams are determined via coaches vote one week after the All-Sectional Teams were voted on by the sectional coaches. These results are used to determine a player's eligibility for All-State. There is no such vote and no such eligibility for the All-Illpolo Teams, where a team and a player's entire body of work is analyzed from Week 1 until the end of the state tournament. Everyone is eligible and most of the Top 40 teams are represented.


Making determinations on who-outperformed-who is never easy to do; in recent years I have elevated the number of players who are included on the All-Illpolo Teams, stretching the number of "teams" to six in 2013. This allows for more players to get recognition, eliminates a lot of mistakes due to oversight, and hopefully puts player performance into a proper perspective after a three-month season.


Reporting & Promoting
This is the eleventh-year of the All-Illpolo Teams and there is one thing that remains true. Coaches and/or some other source have to report scores and statistics in order for their players to have the best chance of recognition. Whether it is for the IWP's official awards or for these teams, getting a player's name out to a large, water polo-hungry audience can only help a player's chances when it comes to the voting process or for me when I look back on a 30-game season for each player and team. Unfortunately, there are still some teams who do not report information, making it hard and nearly impossible to properly evaluate those players and teams. Those teams aren't neglected, as I can usually find enough sources to get some insight into certain teams in spite of their lack of communication, but the lack of reports usually coincide with the e-mail complaints I receive once the postseason awards have been announced.


Congratulations on a great season to all,

Aaron Brown




















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