By Devin Golden
After just one season of competition, Dalton’s youth water polo club wants to expand.
During last year’s inaugural season, the club had only boys on its roster and competed against either all-boys or co-ed teams, but coach Charles Todd is attempting to add a girls-only squad for the 2013 season.
The teams are members of the Georgia High School Water Polo Association (GHSWPA) and are not associated with one school in the Dalton area, although Todd is the swimming and diving coach at Dalton High School and has several of his Catamounts on the water polo roster.
Dalton’s boys open their schedule at noon Saturday at the Dalton Parks and Recreation Department’s John Davis Recreation Center pool versus North Springs. They play again at 2 p.m. versus Southern Crescent.
The girls were short of a full team as of earlier this week, but they are scheduled to play at noon Sunday at Marietta’s Mountain View Aquatic Center versus Pope and again at 2 p.m. versus a club labeled “Team 4” on the GHSWPA website, gapolo.com.
Dalton’s boys have 12 matches scheduled this season, while the girls have eight. The state championships are Oct. 11-13 at the Cumming Aquatic Center.
Todd said girls can play on boys team and compete in the boys league as a co-ed team, but the girls league cannot include boys. He was unsure about who would be on the girls team for its first game. Seven players, six plus a goalkeeper, are required to fill a lineup, and Todd said the group has six right now.
Todd said Marta Hannah, Northwest Whitfield High School’s swimming and diving coach, will help with the girls team if it comes to fruition.
“We can always play co-ed, but we’ve entered a girls team,” Todd said.
Chandler Nichols, of Cleveland, Tenn., and a Cleveland High School junior, played for her school’s co-ed team last season, her first. The team folded, though, and she joined the Dalton program.
She is looking to continue the sport into college.
“I honestly look at it slightly equal,” she said of playing on both a co-ed and all-girls team. “Some colleges have co-ed and some are just girls, so having the experience in both will help me.
“I’m addicted and I love it. So anywhere I can play, I’ll come.”
Gapolo.com lists 22 boys teams — divided into two 11-team divisions — and seven girls teams. Last year there were 21 boys teams and four girls teams. Dalton’s boys finished 15-8 and took sixth place in the GHSWPA state tournament.
“I thought we did well for a first-year team, not knowing the rules or anything,” Todd said. “I thought we might be able to get into the top 10. As a matter of fact, the teams that beat us finished No. 1 and 2. So we played better than sixth last year.”
Dalton lost to Norcross A and Peachtree City in the tournament. Norcross A won the championship.
Of the 18 players on last year’s roster, six were seniors. This year’s roster includes three seniors — goalkeeper Josh Satterfield, offensive setter Taylor Mathis and outside driver Luis Rosales.
“We lost a ton of seniors, so we’re starting over,” Mathis said. “We have me, Luis and Josh, who are the juniors from last season. It’s fun, but everything is competitive for me. All the guys out here are competitive.”