While IU water polo experienced its longest losing streak in program history this season, junior goalkeeper Mary Askew has continued to help brighten the mood of the team.
The third year goalie has garnered praise from all areas of the program, including from head coach Taylor Dodson, who didn’t even know Askew prior to her visit on campus before joining the team.
“We met during our visit. She was very bubbly,” Dodson said. “She is always giving her best effort and she always has a big smile on her face when she does it.”
Askew received four varsity letters in water polo during high school before she came to IU.
Unlike her time in high school, Askew didn’t start for the Hoosiers right away, only starting in six of the 12 games she competed in her freshman year.
“It definitely took a little bit of time,” Dodson said. “In practice she was kind of hot or cold so it’s a complete turnaround from then to where she is now.”
Even with the slow start, it didn’t take Askew much longer to find her footing and start playing more minutes.
In the 2019-20 season, she started 13 games and recorded her first season with 100+ saves.
After an early end to the 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic, Askew would enter the 2021 season as one of the five junior leaders on the team with no seniors on the roster.
Askew said she stepped up to this challenge, wanting to build each individual as a player and make them the best they could be in the pool.
“I try to correct them in the most helpful way possible,” Askew said. “I try to learn how to help everyone best in certain scenarios as much as I can without it being destructive.”
Dodson said she has also recognized her effect on the team and how it has elevated them to compete with some of their toughest opponents.
“Her growth has really helped us set the bar higher and higher everyday,” Dodson said. “We see a lot of really good goalies, we don’t see anyone who's quite as athletic as Mary.”
One game in particular where she displayed her playmaking abilities was in the series against No. 1 University of Southern California on April 2 and 3.
It was one of those games where Askew said she felt in the zone and enjoyed her time with the team.
“The USC game sticks out as one of the most fun collegiate games I’ve ever played in,” Askew said. “I felt very connected and very happy and excited to be a part of a team.”
Askew had 15 saves during the series against USC and scored three goals in the process.
Even though IU lost both matches to the Trojans, Dodson said she thought this was one of Askew’s breakout performances that fuelled the rest of the team.
“That game was a big turning point for the whole program, but she was stopping everything,” Dodson said. “It really fuelled momentum for the whole rest of the season.”
No matter what happens in the pool, the team knows that Askew will be someone who is there for the team first.
Teammate and freshman goalkeeper Haley Hunter said she is one that felt Askew’s presence right away.
“Mary just has the energy of a person you want to be around,” Hunter said. “We’re always sharing fun stories or laughing and telling jokes so the energy around is just a very positive experience.”
It is not an unfamiliar sight to see her dancing during practices along with keeping the team steady and level, Dodson said. She said she believes this balance is a factor to why Askew is the leader of the goalie group.
“I think she keeps everything light and upbeat,” Dodson said.