Gulliver Prep senior Jonathan Chow is a water polo star. Not only does he play for the top notch program at Gulliver, he also plays for the U.S. Junior National Water Polo team.
“This year, for my senior year, I’ll be eligible for the junior team,” he says. “Once I graduate, once I pass the high school level, I’ll be eligible for the national team.”
Chow began his water polo career playing on the youth national team. In order to remain a member of the junior national team, he must re-qualify every year.
“First you have to qualify for the zone team,” he says. “I represent the southeast zone. You have to make that team first. Afterwards, we have a national championship with the national coaches watching the kids play. They select a group of 30 kids.”
Then the boys attend a week-long training and selection camp that allows the coaches an in-depth look and evaluation of the aspiring players.
“Then when it’s over, they tell us who made the junior national team,” Chow says. “We go home take a break for a week, then they call us back for more training and they select a travel team.”
Because all of the other players on the team hail from California, Chow says they get to play more often than he does. The team also doesn’t play as often as he’d like because of funding issues.
“Water polo is a not a very popular sport here, like basketball is,” he says.
Chow has been playing water polo for five years, following in his brother’s footsteps.
“He was in high school and I was in swimming,” he says. “I thought that he looked cool playing water polo, so I started playing, too. I fell in love with the sport.”
Chow also plays water polo for a club team. He has been playing for different clubs because he is trying to broaden his experience and learn from a variety of coaches.
“So that I’m not stuck on one philosophy,” he says, adding the he is currently playing the Gulliver Rip Tides.
Chow believes the Gulliver water polo team can have a winning season.
“I believe we have a very, very good chance of winning the state championship,” he says. “We have a good group of kids that play well and love to play together.”
As with most other water polo players, Chow is also on the swim team. Players usually swim in order to keep in shape. His favorite event is the 200 freestyle, though his coach generally enters him in the 500 freestyle, the 200 individual medley and the 200 and 400 freestyle relays, as well as the 200 medley relay. Last year, the Gulliver swim team competed in the state tournament and finished 12th overall.
Even though swimming and water polo keep him busy, Chow does find time for community service. Much of his volunteer time is connected to water polo, including his volunteer work at the Pan Am Water Polo Tournament. There the boys help with placing the tents and the chairs for the event which featured the men and women’s national teams from the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico.
“I knew some of the players even though I’m on the junior national team, myself,” Chow says. “They used to play with me when they were younger.”
Chow has also worked with Operation Smile, helping raise money for the organization, and he has been involved with the Open Ears, Open Arms Club, which collects food and clothing to give to homeless shelters. Chow is also in charge of community service for the Business Club.
By Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld