No. 14 IU water polo’s exhibition game Friday night will be an emotional one for senior center Bronwyn Smith, who will be honored during senior night festivities as the lone 2017 graduate on the team.
Smith was a part of the IU squad that won the Collegiate Water Polo Association championship during her freshman season in 2014, and she said that has been her favorite memory at IU.
“Jumping in the pool after we won was such a great feeling, and I’ll never forget it,” Smith said.
Smith said she’s talked to IU Coach Ryan Castle about the game Friday night and is trying to convince him to let her play every position against McKendree.
“My goals for the game is not to mess up too much, and I want to be able to get every single statistic in the game,” Smith said while laughing. “I’m trying to bribe Ryan to let me play in goal, too.”
Castle said he’s thought about it and decided to grant Smith’s request and allowing her senior night to be a special one.
“She knows that she’s going to play the whole game in every position,” he said. “We’ll have some flowers for her, give her a nice presentation and say some nice things about her.”
This season Smith is one of three team captains, which was a role established for the first time this season. Players on the team see her as a mother figure because she is one of the oldest players on the team.
“It’s weird only having one senior, and she always looks out for all of us,” freshman utility Kendall Doten said. “Since there’s only one Bronwyn, she took us all in as her own. We call her the Mom and Grandma on the team.”
Junior attacker Sarah Myers, Smith’s roommate, said she loves having Smith around their apartment and on the team and added that they have bonded well during the past three years.
“Bronwyn has been such a great teammate, and I’m going to miss her so much when she leaves,” Myers said. “It’s going to be fun to have her last conference championships with her here at home.”
Castle said he has seen this mother-like bond between Smith and the rest of the players and loves it. He said he will be sad to lose her because she is a crucial part of the team on which he can always rely.
Smith has appeared in 24 of IU’s 27 games this season and tallied three goals, four assists and four steals on the year. Castle said her role expands to outside of the pool, and he said he’s going to miss her smile and attitude the most when she’s gone.
“She always keeps things light-hearted,” Castle said. “She’s very accountable for her mistakes and she never makes excuses, and that’s the type of attitude that we want permeating throughout our team.”
Smith said she has loved her time at IU and is glad she got to play Division I water polo in Bloomington. Smith is graduating with a degree from the Kelley School of Business in May. She said even though Friday is senior night, she knows it won’t be a close game, so having the CWPA tournament in Bloomington will be her opportunity to play in an intense game for the last time.
Smith said she hasn’t thought about her career coming to an end in Bloomington and said it will hit her after the last game this season.
“I’m taking it one game at a time, and the NCAA Championships will be here in Indy, too, if we make it that far,” Smith said.
Senior Night will start at 7 p.m. at the Counsilman Billingsley Aquatic Center in Bloomington.
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