February 15, 2014
An Inside Look at illpolo.com
With illpolo.com entering its’ eighth year
of covering the sport, I realize it might be helpful to initiate new
coaches, fans, parents, and players to what the site provides and how
things work. I’ll try to answer typical questions that some people may
have as the 2014 season gets into full swing.
Illpolo.com is basically a one-person
operation. I always use the word “we” to describe the work on the site,
since I receive many contributions from various coaches, parents, and
players throughout the season. Truth be told, the only other person that
does any physical work for the site is my wonderful wife Julie, who is a
journalism teacher and helps edit my work and updates the site whenever I
am unable to do so.
Quite simply, illpolo.com is a voluntary
effort done by one person. I am a high school teacher at a school without
a pool or a water polo team that has chosen to cover the sport as a
reporter instead of coaching it. I started the site as a means of
providing simple information that was never available in one place
(coaches list, team schedules, team listings) and it quickly blossomed to
the point where I was keeping track of scores, standings, and other
pertinent information to each water polo season.
I continue to run the site out of habit more than
anything else, though I don't want to think of what would happen to water
polo coverage in the state of Illinois if I could not continue running the
site. My wife should probably get all the credit for the site continuing,
since she could tell me that I spend too much time working on the site;
instead she encourages me to write more articles and go to more
tournaments on the weekends.
Occasionally, I will get a formal e-mail from someone
that sounds like they are sending it to some mega-organization with
multiple employees in a office somewhere in Chicago. That always makes me
laugh because I think of when I was first covering the sport at age 24 and
basically living out of my car because I was traveling all across the
state to cover as many games and tourneys as possible during the
three-month long season.
Trust me when I say that I am not looking for sympathy
here, but I just want to provide a little perspective of how the sport is
being covered. Last Saturday, for example, I had to delay
going to a family party in order to finish posting scores and recaps from
tournament championship games. After all, the only other option was to
leave the biggest games of the weekend unreported until the next morning,
and we can't have that!
Last night, I had to race home from
graduate school because I had a handful of texts and e-mails reporting
scores that I had to get posted immediately. Some nights, I'll be up well
past midnight organizing schedules and standings, writing previews, and
getting ready for the next day of games and then getting enough sleep so I
can get up at 5:00am and repeat the process.
Things like rankings and All-Illpolo Teams
are simply opinions. In most sports (albeit, college or professional),
there are numerous other sources which help to provide different opinions
that provide some sense of balance. Unfortunately, since there really
aren’t any other sources that cover the sport, I am sure most people look
to illpolo.com and if they don't agree with what is written, I usually
hear about it in a critical e-mail or phone call while I'm teaching at
school the very same day.
There are some ways that everyone can help make the
coverage of our sport the best. Many people already do provide valuable
information or donations that keep the information flowing and the web
site running. We can always use more help. And remember, when I am saying
"we", I am talking about all of us coaches, fans, parents, and players.