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HOUSTON – This was for everybody.
It was for anyone who has ever played water polo since the 1970s. It was for Lamar coach Steve McDonald. It was for 10-year-old Baylor Slay.
For all of them the wait is over. Water polo will officially start its pilot program in Fall 2021 as a sanctioned UIL sport.
"It was scary because you don't know what to expect in that vote, it can go anyway," Foster water polo coach Chris Slay said.
Adding water polo to the sports lists marks the first sport to be added to the UIL since wrestling was added for the 1998-1999 season.
On Sunday, Slay was the one to give a speech, which he was allotted a maximum of five minutes to give, to the UIL Legislative Committee. Slay admitted it was a little scary facing a board of superintendents with his "nerves going about a million miles per hour".
The nerves carried over into Monday morning up until the vote was complete, which also included 205 schools saying they would play water polo when it starts in fall of 2021.
A school counted in that number is Foster, whose boys water polo team finished as TISCA State Runnerups in 2019 and the girls water polo team, which won a TISCA State Championship in May for the first in program history.
"I hope so or something has gone horribly wrong," Slay said about Foster being considered a contender when the sport starts in 2021. "I think we have infrastructure in place. There are good youth aquatic sports in the area where we are. We're trying to build a tradition and people are taking note and it's growing."
Leading up to that fall, Slay knows they will have to continue to grow.
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While most of the Astros roster is returning for the 2024 season, there are still some areas of uncertainty for the club. Astros manager Joe Espada will have some tough decisions to make in his first season managing the team.
The Astros infield is set, so we know who will be playing on a nightly basis, assuming health. The outfield is where things get tricky. Espada told the Houston Chronicle last week that he hopes to play Alvarez more in left field this season, which would open up the DH spot for Chas McCormick and players he would like to rest while keeping their bat in the lineup (Yainer Diaz, Jose Altuve, etc).
Astros GM Dana Brown would like to see if Jake Meyers can hit well enough to play regularly in center field. This is a team that stresses defense, which Meyers provides. But if defense is the top priority, wouldn't that mean Chas McCormick should play left field with Yordan Alvarez hitting in the DH spot?
Certainly, there will be nights when that's the case. The reality of the situation is all these guys are going to play, but how much and where is yet to be seen.
Houston plays 20 games in 21 days to start the season, so it's not going to take long to see if Meyers is providing enough offense to play regularly. If we get into the month of May and Meyers is an offensive liability in the lineup, we won't be surprised if his playing time starts to decrease. But by how much?
Don't miss the video as we examine how Joe Espada will deploy his outfielders and get the most out of the DH this season!
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