COUNTRY CLUB HILLS | You can’t always judge the quality of an athletic program by wins and losses; sometimes you have to look at the character of the athletes as well.
That’s especially true when you talk about the Marian Catholic girls water polo team. While the Spartans have built their program to respectability over the past few seasons, this group has excelled in other areas.
Without a home pool. every day is an away day for the Spartans, who travel Hillcrest High School in Country Club Hills for practice.
While dealing with these obstacles can make things difficult in the water for the Spartans, one place it hasn’t held them back is the classroom.
Led by co-captains Hannah Morris and Sophia Sesto, who both sport GPA’s above 4.0 on a 4.0 scale, the Spartans have the highest GPA among girls sports. That's second only to the boys tennis team in the entire school.
“The girls are very dedicated,” coach Sean Scanlon said. “Despite all the time they spend traveling, they still manage to find time to study and keep their grades up.”
Some students may see all the hours on the road as a reason to let their grades slip but for the Spartans it’s just another challenge to overcome.
“We take academics as serious as athletics,” Morris said. “You have to have that drive in all aspects of your life; becoming well-rounded is why you go to Marian.”
Morris and her teammates approach academics the same way they do practice during the season, it’s all about communication and teamwork.
From bus ride study sessions on their way home from a match to tutoring, the team works together to make sure that everyone has the resources they need to excel in the classroom.
“Time management is the key,” Sesto said. “It can be exhausting, but we have a great buddy system for tutoring each other. Everyone knows who to talk to for help in certain subjects, and the seniors try to really be there to help the younger girls.”
Both Morris and Sesto are in the top 20 in their class.
“I think it’s actually easier to keep your grades up during the season,” Morris said. “There’s extra motivation to stay on top of things because you have to have the grades to play.”
Despite a grueling schedule, it’s not all work and no play for Marian Catholic, whose players make the most of their time on the road by treating it as an opportunity to not only study but to spend time with their best friends.
“The trips are really good for bonding,” Sesto said. “Sometimes they’re too much fun; we try to study but sometimes you just want to have some fun. We laugh and sing on the bus. We’re all really close; we love the trips and we love each other.”