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Friday, May 24
The Indiana Daily Student

sports water polo

National champ water polo player guards IU's goal

Cassie Wyckoff

From her post just in front of the goal, sophomore Cassie Wyckoff watched as the match unfolded in front of her.

She saw her teammates, including her sister Lauren, dart about the pool looking to score and defend. She saw her opponents do the same. And late in regulation time, with the opposing team looking to take the lead, she saw the ball and stopped it.

With a 12-11 victory made possible by her save late in regulation, which pushed the game into overtime, Wyckoff’s Stanford Red club team won the 2009 USA Open (20-Over) National Championship on July 26.

“I remember that game almost play-by-play,” Wyckoff said. “It was a very intense game, one of the few championship games that are so exciting because it’s a back-and-forth type of game, and to come in the end and win by a point, it felt amazing.”

The next day, Wyckoff was announced as one of the All-American selections for the tournament. Despite having received accolades for her play in the past, the recognition still came as a shock to Wyckoff.

“It was actually a surprise to me, honestly,” she said. “To me, getting awards like All-American is very rewarding, but that’s just one step forward. I worked very hard. I think it was well-earned. I just want to do as good as I can, no matter what, whether I get awards for it or not.”

Others, however, fully expected Wyckoff to be recognized for her play in the tournament, including IU coach Barry King and Wyckoff’s sister.

“We keep track of everything and see how people are playing during the summer and knew that Cassie had a very good tournament,” King said. “It was a no-brainer that the All-American status would come after that.”

King called Wyckoff an “immensely talented player,” and said that when she plays to her athletic strengths, she is among the best players in the college game today, despite having played only one collegiate season.

“Goalkeeper-wise, she’s as gifted an athlete as we’ve ever had, and when she is really letting her athleticism flow, and doing things by sheer instinct, she’s as good as we’ve had,” King said. “When she’s doing that, she’s probably a top-three goalkeeper in the country.”

While King says Wyckoff’s athletic abilities make her a perfect fit for the goalkeeper position, Wyckoff said she has not always felt she was destined to play that spot.

Rather, she said she discovered it simply out of curiosity while watching a team coached by her father, Travis Wyckoff, in her hometown of Los Altos, Calif.

“When I first started playing water polo, I was watching some older girls play,” Cassie Wyckoff said. “I was watching the goalkeeper, and I told my dad ‘I can do better than she can do’ and he said, ‘Go do it.’”

In addition to her talents as a goalkeeper, Cassie Wyckoff also assumes a leadership role on her teams, leading by example, her sister said.

“She’s a very patient player,” Lauren Wyckoff said. “She’s very calm and reserved. She’s a great leader.”

Cassie Wyckoff continues to enjoy the game and hopes to keep water polo as a central aspect of her life, even after her three remaining seasons at IU. She plans to try out for the national team next summer and is considering a future in coaching.

She cites the sport’s physical nature and flair for the dramatic reasons she enjoys the game.

“I love the sport, all of it,” Cassie Wyckoff said. “It’s as brutal as football is. It’s like playing rugby in the water. I like being an entertainer.”

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