There are very few people that can say they were captain of a team as a freshman, but this is exactly what sparked the American River College’s women’s water polo team to a 6-1 record in the Big 8 conference and the second seed in the championship meet.
This isn’t as rare as if she was was at a major university, but at a two-year college, it’s still a huge honor to have during your first collegiate experience. Mackenzie Kaplan is not only a star on the women’s team, but a motivator as well.
“I’m not afraid to take initiative in telling other girls to ‘do work and try hard,’ and I motivate them to be better as well,” said Kaplan.
From being in high school just last year at McClatchy High School where she led her team to the state semi-finals and received MVP honors from her team, to leading her college to a very successful season, Kaplan knows what it takes to work hard.
“I have definitely worked a lot harder on my shot this year, and I have been able to score in crucial moments in games,” said Kaplan. “You come every day, you walk on the pool deck and you want to do well, I would feel guilty if I slacked off.”
It’s clearly visible from her season statistics that she is the leader in the scoring books as well. Kaplan leads the team in steals and assists this season, but it’s her attitude that Head Coach Bethani Black says is her best contribution to the team.
“I think that she’s a really fun, good-hearted person that wants the best for people,” said Black. “She’s very responsible and accountable for her own actions and I think that it naturally makes her a good leader.”
This offseason, Kaplan must build on what she accomplished with her teammates this season and progress in all aspects of their game. Since the team is required to swim in the spring as well, the girls will have plenty of time to work on their form and techniques.
Although she didn’t get any scholarship offers out of high school, Kaplan still wishes to continue playing water polo after her time at ARC is up.
“I think it would be awesome to play in Hawaii, but that’s still a stretch,” said Kaplan.
She is going to have to work extremely hard this coming offseason, but the potential is there to extend her water polo career long after ARC.