Emily Pacela: Water Polo Player Dominates With Passion


Emily Pacela

Emily Pacela (12) with possession of the ball during practice.

Cody Flores, Staff Writer

The cheers of the crowd fills the air as the two teams rush towards the ball, water splashing everywhere. Emily Pacela (12) swims with determination towards the slick polo ball. A mass of opponents chasing after her, she grabs the ball and the timer starts to countdown to the end of the match. The crowd watches in anticipation as she heaves herself up and throws the ball in the direction of the goal. The goalie misses the shot and the ball lands inside on the mark of the last second, earning her team a victory score for the game. 

Pacela is one of many students at Ayala that plays on the water polo team. At first she was not really interested in water polo, however, did enjoy swimming a lot and playing catch in the pool with friends and family. Her sister’s friend that was on the water polo team recommended that she should try out for the team and join since she would enjoy playing the sport, since it is in water.

“I always have loved swimming since I was really young and always loved playing catch [and other activities] in the pool with my friends and siblings,” explains Pacela. “My sister’s friend who was on the water polo team told me I should definitely join because it’s what I would love in a sport.”

Followed by her love for swimming and being in water, she tried out a bit later in her junior year and became part of the team. One of many things that makes her passionate about water polo is wanting to put forth her best effort to help out her team and uphold the honor of the family name. 

“You want to do well for your team because you know that they’re depending on you and you feel like a sense of responsibility to uphold that family name and family honor of scoring goals and defending [from the other team]. It just feels amazing when you win and at the end your coach is proud of you. It’s one of the most amazing feelings to have with your friends and teammates being proud of you and it pushes you to do better.” 

When Pacela first started out on the team she tried out for being goalie, however, she does not enjoy the experience of being repeatedly hit with the ball. So instead of being goalie, she became one of the players on the “field”. She mostly specializes in defense, being one of her strengths, and attempting to help out her teammates so that they may score. She restrains from being one of the main players, going on offense and scoring goals, however plays her role as a team player by helping her teammates out by defending them. 

“Some of the strengths in the sport is defending my teammates, I’m not the best shot, so I’m not [like] a sprinter. I mostly just stay back and help out my teammates,” explains Pacela. “I’ve been getting better, but I just try to stay back and help out the best that I can.” 

She continues to work on her throwing skills, which are improving, during practice and works harder than she did the past year. Besides working on her throwing and passes, she works on being more aggressive in order to have more confidence, since water polo is one of the many aggressive sports. Which pushes her to work more on becoming more assertive and aggressive during her games. While not working on improving, one of the many things that Pacela enjoys about water polo is practicing with her friends and having an adrenaline rush. 

“Practicing with my friends and the adrenaline rush of it is really fun and you get to be athletic and out in the sun. Overall it’s just an amazing sport and aerobic activity to do and it is more healthy for you. It also helps you be closer with your teammates and coach and listen to them,” Pacela said.

While not competing in water polo, Pacela can be found at home relaxing watching YouTube videos of her favorite YouTubers. She also stays in shape by going to the gym and training herself to keep up her endurance and strength. Majority of the free time she has, she is practicing for water polo when she can so that she can improve her shortcomings in the sport. Some advice that she would give to those interested in water polo is:

“If you want a confidence booster or a way to hangout with friends or you need a way to get out of the house [and let off steam], then water polo is one of the best sports to do that. You can be one of the most aggressive players and people wouldn’t want to mess with you.”