Szabo: Sage polo girls making waves

High Schools

October 01, 2013|By Matt Szabo
  • From left, Rachael Jaffe, Paige Solaas and Laurenz Dodge play on the Sage Hill School boys' water polo team.
From left, Rachael Jaffe, Paige Solaas and Laurenz Dodge… (Don Leach, Daily…)

As young players for the Sage Hill School boys' water polo team, sophomore Rachael Jaffe and freshmen Paige Solaas and Laurenz Dodge could be considered X-factors.

One way they differ from their teammates, though, is the XX chromosome.

Yes, Jaffe, Solaas and Dodge are girls playing on the boys' team for the Lightning. But more than that, they are valued contributors.

"Everyone enjoys and welcomes them on the team," Sage Hill Coach Tom Norton said. "They're great additions to our squad."

Jaffe is a goalie, splitting time in the cage with Zack Drobenko. She is a talented athlete. She plays club water polo for SOCAL and also plays club soccer, as well as on the Lightning girls' soccer team during the winter season.

Jaffe made 19 saves during the Irvine varsity tournament, which Sage competed in over the weekend, going 1-3. Last year, as a freshman, she also played water polo for Sage.


"It wasn't awkward because [opponents] just treated me like a normal person, a normal player," Jaffe said. "They were a bit surprised at first, like, 'Oh, they have a girl on their team.' But then they got over it and they kept playing."

As a goalie, Jaffe has seen the difference between boys' and girls' shooters.

"Girls place their shots and think about it, and guys muscle their way through the shots," she said.

But, as field players, Solaas and Dodge also have a unique set of challenges. Water polo can be a very physical sport, with much of the action happening underwater and away from the eyes of the referee.

Solaas, whose older brother Cole (tennis) and sister Lauren (volleyball) also play sports at Sage, has plenty of water polo experience. She has played club for Anteater and CdM, and rehabilitated from back injuries last year. She's a driver for the Lightning.

Dodge is in her first year playing water polo.

"Usually I play tennis, and it's the same season as water polo," she said. "I missed the tennis tryouts. Paige was telling me about the water polo team ... I didn't really know what I was getting myself into, I guess. I didn't really know how difficult it was, or how difficult it would be, but I've had so much fun playing. So far it's been a good experience."

Sage Hill had a girls' water polo team in the past, coached by Norton, but the program disbanded several years ago due to low participation numbers.

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