2008-08-21 / Sports

Commanding the pool

By Michael Selecky
VIEW Sports Writer

GRAND BLANC — After assisting Roger Baywol during the 2006 campaign, second-year head coach Dan Command is consistently looking to lead the boys’ water polo team just a little bit further than he did the season before.

Last year, the Bobcats completed the 2007 Eastern Region, North District Championships with a 11-7 win over fourth-seeded Troy at Birmingham Groves on Oct. 20 to finish third behind top-ranked Groves and Birmingham Seaholm in the six-team field.

“Our team should perform very well this season. Our goal is to make it to the state round of the postseason tournament,” said Command. “Grand Blanc hasn’t made it to states in a very long time, but this year we have a good shot at changing that. To make it to states we have to be a top four team on the east side of the state. Within our district our biggest competitor is Birmingham Groves, making them a ‘must-win’ for us this year.”

As their Olympic counterparts take to Chinese pools to represent the United States on an athletic platform of immense proportions, what lies ahead for the Bobcats is a key group of returning seniors that includes Tyler Benmark, Aaron Ducharme, Brett Dryer, Mike Hicks, Tim Sippell, Tom Bleau, Victor George and Kristo Herzog.

Team strengths include a well-seasoned upperclassmen in net (Herzog), a traditionally high grade point average and an entire squad focused on sustaining its eligibility by maintaining a drama-free existence. Coach Command may not have perfection in his grasp, but the season certainly could end up lending itself to results people will be talking about for quite some time.

“Two players that didn’t play a lot for the varsity unit last year but will have a big part on the team this year are juniors Luke Ford and Anthony Marsala,” Command said. “We don’t have any problems regarding discipline or academics, and the water polo program has always had a very high GPA.”

Results from 2007 include a 13-5 victory over sixth-seeded Troy Athens Oct. 19 in the first game at the ER North District Championships, followed by an 18-9 loss to second-seeded Seaholm the next day.

“We do have a slight issue with facilities, and that is we’re one of only a couple of teams left in the state with a shallow/deep pool. It’s also a very small pool,” Command said. “Most teams have an all-deep pool much larger than ours. In water polo you can’t touch the bottom at any point in the game, so we can’t host any postseason games.”

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