Two years apart, Illinois natives bond with water polo

Illinois

Sophomore defender Argelia Diaz shoots toward net as senior goalkeeper Kerry Goodspeed saves the shot in practice. Diaz and Goodspeed both play on the women’s water polo team after attending high school in neighboring towns in Illinois. Photo by Diano Pachote

It’s a small world, after all for senior goalkeeper Kerry Goodspeed and sophomore defender Argelia Diaz. With more than 5,300 colleges and universities in the U.S., these two water polo players from neighboring towns in Illinois ended up at the same small university on the other side of the country.

Goodspeed is from Northbrook, Illinois, a town in the suburbs of Chicago. She grew up around water polo, and it was seemingly inevitable for her to play the sport, no matter how hard she fought against it, she said. Her father was a coach and her brother, aunt and uncle all played.

Illinois

Senior goalkeeper Kerry Goodspeed is from Northbrook, Illinois. Photo by Diano Pachote

“I was not going to do it, I (said I) won’t play,” Goodspeed said. “Then I tried track and I hated it. I realized I hate running, so here I am on the water polo team.”

A friend of Goodspeed’s who played on her club water polo team in Chicago told her about Chapman, she said. Goodspeed decided that Chapman was the school for her – she joined Chapman’s water polo team as a freshman and is majoring in integrated educational studies.

“(We are) excited that we get to represent Illinois people playing water polo in college in California,” said Goodspeed. “Most of our team is from California. A lot of them don’t think that there is water polo in other places in the country.”

Diaz, a health sciences major, is from Wheeling, Illinois, which is also a suburb of Chicago. Her guidance counselor told her about Chapman.

Illinois

Sophomore defender Argelia Diaz is from Wheeling, Illinois. Photo by Diano Pachote

“I didn’t even know water polo existed until I joined freshman year (in high school) swim team,” Diaz said. “I always played basketball when I was younger and then my knees went out and I really missed the team aspect, so going back into (a team sport) was really fun.”

Although they played a few games against each other in Chicago, Goodspeed and Diaz did not know each other until they both independently came to Chapman. Both were looking for a small school, and they found that at Chapman.

“An added bonus of both being from Chicago is that we’re also roommates,” said Goodspeed. “We live down the street from two of our teammates and two of our former teammates. We’re really friends outside of the pool. This team is like my family.”

Since Goodspeed is a goalkeeper and Diaz is a defender, they work together and communicate constantly in the water, Goodspeed said.

“(Diaz) is a great defender,” Goodspeed said. “I really like having her in front of me, helping me out. There is a lot of teamwork there.”

Head coach Eric Ploessel only had praise for both players.

“(Goodspeed) and (Diaz) are great examples of what we want here,” Ploessel said. “They’re great students, (Diaz) is even graduating early, which is unfortunate, because I really want her to stick around. The most important thing to me is that they represent us in the right way.”

Because of Goodspeed’s family history with water polo, Ploessel believes that she could make a good coach in the future.

Although Goodspeed is not sure what the future holds for her, she would like to continue playing the sport for now. Diaz would like to eventually attend medical school to become an anesthesiologist.

“California is kind of in its own little bubble, so it was really cool for us to come here and get to enter the California water polo bubble and play polo here,” Goodspeed said.

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