After leading the IU water polo team to a 4-0 record in its first weekend of play, junior Izzy Mandema was recognized as the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Player of the Week according to their Twitter page.
“I was so happy,” Mandema said. “I actually had surgery last year, so just being able to come back and play completely and receive that honor from the MPSF was a really big deal for me.”
Mandema began the 2021 season with 18 goals, six steals and an assist across four games, and IU water polo head coach Taylor Dodson said this performance wasn’t shocking.
“It didn’t surprise me at all,” Dodson said. “The more game experience she’s been able to have, the better. I think it sets a really good precedent for herself and the team moving forward.”
Mandema has been a part of every game in her collegiate career, setting an example for freshmen such as Kiki Mein, Sophie Wazzan and Kalie White, who scored a combined eight goals in their first college matchups. Freshman goalie Haley Hunter also contributed by saving a combined eight goals in her first weekend of play.
IU and Mandema showed their aggression against opposing defenses in the weekend’s play, an attribute she has historically shown in her matchups, Mandema’s father Jaap Mandema, said.
“Very determined in what she wanted to do, very dedicated to what she wanted to do and very competitive,” he said of Mandema.
The Hoosiers were scheduled to face Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on Feb. 14, but the games were canceled due to additional health and safety issues in the Wolverines’ program.
The team took advantage of this additional time, Dodson said. The players are using the time to recover, while Dodson is trying to keep the game day spirit alive, she said.
“Tuesday was a lighter day. We were only in the pool for an hour — normally we’re in for two-and-a-half hours,” Dodson said. “We’re treating Saturday like a game day. We’ve got an intersquad scrimmage where we’ll pick teams and they’ll have a theme, and they get pretty excited about that.”
Mandema said the team thrives in uncertainty.
“We really work together and think, no matter what, we’re going to play everyday like we have the biggest game of our lives tomorrow,” Mandema said.
The Hoosiers are scheduled to play Michigan and St. Francis University on Saturday and Sunday in Ann Arbor. The time for the team’s first match against Michigan has not yet been set.