The Long And Winding Road.

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As I have briefly stated in previous posts,  my English class was assigned an innovation  project, also known as the “Idea Farming Project”. The main purpose of this assignment is to somehow make the world a better place, along with learning from our mistakes throughout the process. There are endless possibilities to what you can focus on: for example, one group in my class is making fun YouTube videos, another is inventing a solar powered cell phone charger, others are making blogs and selling homemade baked goods or stuffed animals with  the proceeds going to a specific charity.

 I chose my project based on the fact that it’s focused on a topic I  sincerely care about: water polo.

I am a member of my high school’s girls water polo program and our team has been decreasing in size  each year. This year, we have a total of 18 girls for both our Varsity and Junior Varsity teams; you need a minimum of seven people in the water to have one complete team. We only have two upper classmen this year–one senior  and one junior. Our team consist of mainly sophomores, with only about four freshmen. Therefore, we are in a desperate need of more committed, new players to join our program.

In an act to almost “save” our team from “extinction,” two of my fellow team members, Merri and Kyla, also worked on this project with me.  (Check out their blogs At the Edge of this Pier and Fright Makes Write.) We planned and hosted an “Introduction to Water Polo” clinic for 7th and 8th grade girls at our high school pool. Our strategy was to teach them the basics of the sport while having fun along the way. We also wanted to show the girls that our team is like a family and that we all help and support each other, just like sisters.

We began our project by using the power of the internet to share our game times, special achievements, pictures, and the great bond we all have as a team. The three of us made various social media accounts (Facebook and Twitter), along with a team website that includes a calendar, reminders, schedules, pictures, and a tab about our project.

Here is our Facebook page:

Here is our Twitter account:

And finally, our team website:

In addition, we created a Facebook group in an effort to stay in contact within our team and share needed information with each other.

We also created a hashtag that can be used on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google+. #FVHSGWP

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Initially, we were going to  speak to the middle school girls and present a Powerpoint with information and details about our team and clinic. I began to create a Prezi presentation; however, after speaking with our school’s athletic director, it turns out were not able to do so. Instead we created flyers that we shared and spread throughout the various middle schools in our community.

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Our local community magazine helped spread the word by featuring our camp on their Facebook page:

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We also attended the 8th Grade Parents’ Nights that our high school hosted, allowing us to hand out our flyers and talk to girls and their parents about our team.

Once we started to receive emails from parents whose girls were interested, we really began to get down to business. We created a list of things we were going to need the day of our clinic, created a tentative schedule of our day, made liability waivers and designed posters to direct them to the pool, and recruited the help of our other teammates and coaches.

Intro to Polo Day Schedule - Google Docs.clipular

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Finding time to organize everything was a little tough; however, we managed to overcome this obstacle. We chatted over Facebook and text, combing through what needed to be done.

Having a total of a dozen girls or so confirm their attendance really made all three of us super excited. But what really surprised us was that the day of, the clinic, we  had a total of  18 new girls attend. (In water polo, that is more than enough players to make up two entire teams!)

Some pictures from our day:

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Merri perfectly described our event as a “success!” and said, “After introductions, we brought the girls into our team room and did some board work explaining the basics of water polo. They seemed to be very interested and had some great questions that we gladly answered. After the less exciting board talk, we finally went to the pool. We started off with a little swimming, splitting the girls into two groups based on swimming ability. The girls who needed help with their swimming got it, and the girls that did not need it got in a few more laps. We taught the girls the basics of eggbeater [the process of treading water with your legs, in a motion similar to an eggbeater] and for the most part, they got the hang of it. After that, we taught them how to pass the ball properly. We eventually made it onto shooting, which everyone loved! They got so excited when they made it in, and it was really fun to watch them do so. Then the fun really began: we scrimmaged with the girls! They picked up on the game pretty quickly and we were really impressed. We finished the day off with a game of five alive, which is a penalty shot game.”

With the help of our athletic director and English teacher prior to the event—along with the assistance of our teammates and coaches—Merri, Kyla, and myself were able to host a successful event.

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Last week, our English teacher asked us to present our project at the First Annual #IdeaFM Innovation Symposium at our high school. We briefly talked about the process of our project, the outcome, and how it ultimately benefited us and our school’s girls water polo program.

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Overall, this small project made a huge difference in our program. It not only planted the seeds for our budding team, but transformed our team into something beautiful. This project helped us recognize that our team is a family, with all of us being sisters with a love for the sport.

We are literally PASSING on our passion for water polo, and SHOOTING to make it something that girls want to participate in when they reach high school.

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A big thanks to everyone who contributed to our process of completing our event; to those who got in the pool with us and helped us demonstrate the proper way to eggbeater; to all the girls who showed up; to the parents who supported us and those who took pictures; to those who showed interest in our team and project; and to those who kept encouraging us to move ahead. We look forward to continuing with this new tradition of hosting this Introduction to Water Polo clinic for many years to come.

And with that, our journey along our long and winding road has just begun.

#TheCropsAreReady

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-Kayla

Feel free to visit our sites to learn more about our program, progress and project as a whole.

To see a full album of pictures from our day, click here.

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