Hunter Arnold gives instruction to his Kentridge team during a recent water polo match. Arnold, fresh out of the waters as a high school and college player, accepted the challenge to coach the young Chargers this fall. COURTESY PHOTO, Tracy Arnold

Making a splash: Young coach guides young Chargers in water polo

Hunter Arnold is a young coach leading a young Kentridge High School boys water polo team.

This is the 22-year-old’s first year coaching high school water polo, but not his first time leading a team. He previously coached for the Kent Swim and Tennis Club.

Arnold, a 2013 Auburn Mountainview High graduate, started playing water polo on a club team when he was 13 and was a part of his high school’s program. He was also on a club team at both Oregon State University and Central Washington University.

Mike McKee, who previously coached for Kentridge and is still involved with the team, contacted Arnold about the position.

“They said they were looking for a younger coach, someone that had recently gone through high school water polo,” Arnold said.

The head coaching duties fall on Arnold, and McKee handles the finances and fundraising while helping to coach.

Water polo is not a school-sanctioned sport and does not receive funding from the school or district. The team hosts fundraisers and has received grants to help offset the costs for players.

The Kentridge team is fresh-faced, made up primarily of underclassmen with one senior.

“Three of the guys had played varsity before,” Arnold said. “Everyone else hadn’t played or hasn’t played varsity. We have seven freshman. Six had never played before. One had played club.”

Even with a fairly inexperienced team, the Chargers are off to a 9-3 start.

“I was surprised at how quick they were able to pick up some of the stuff we have been working on,” Arnold said of his players. “I know they are willing to learn.”

The team hopes to finish the season in the top four of the six-team division to secure a spot in the regional playoffs, Arnold said.

Arnold said he would like to continue coaching.

“I’m definitely interested in growing the program and definitely interested in helping grow the sport,” he said. “I just want people to enjoy the sport as much I did when I grew up. One of the reasons I liked high school so much was I got to play water polo.”

His recent experience as a player helps him relate to his team, he said.

“I feel like they trust me more because of that,” he said.

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