The young Muskoka Canoe Polo Club (MCPC), had stellar results at its first tournament this year, and just the third a team has attended in the club’s short history.
Andy Parry, owner of the Muskoka Kayak School, began offering canoe polo in Huntsville’s Centennial Pool in 2017.
“Three years ago, when we started playing in the pool with Muskoka Kayak School, we never thought that we’d have a competitive team, let alone a club. The sport is huge in Europe and South America and it’s growing here in North America,” said Jon Strickland, MCPC co-president.
Jeff Osler, MCPC co-president added, “We all started from the same place, which was not knowing what the sport was or how to play whatsoever.”
Playing polo outside on the lake through the summer or in the pool during the winter can be very different than playing in a tournament. “In less than three years a lot has happened from those pool sessions!” said Osler. “We have established summer paddling nights, played in Canadian Nationals, competed against international teams from New Zealand and Australia, and sent a paddler to Argentina to compete for Canada in the Pan American Championships.”
Most recently, a team of five MCPC members placed third in the B Division in the Nor’easter Kayak Polo Series tournament in Pointe-Claire, Quebec, just outside of Montreal, held September 14-15.
“From game one to game nine the team played incredible!” said Osler. “We really focused on playing as a unit both on offence and defence, practicing the structure that has been taught to us since beginning to play the sport. We won three of our last four games which really shows how much improvement we are seeing from our players.”
The MCPC team was able to compete against other clubs that were new to the sport and take the wins, but their highlight of the weekend was a 3-2 win against the New York City Canoe Polo Club, which was freshly relegated from the A Division.
“They had players on their team that have played polo for a long time and it shows. They are very structured and we had to play a complete team game to pull that win out,” said Osler. “Jon Strickland was a force out on the pitch for our team all weekend. Jeff Klinkman and Jeff Salar both played great defence all weekend and made some really smart plays for our team. Roger Irwin very well could have been named MVP of the team on Sunday scoring four huge goals over Sudbury and New York. It was just amazing to see our team play this way no matter the result!”
This successful weekend was yet another milestone for the club as it continues to grow the sport locally and keep that important balance between fun and competition.
Most of the MCPC players will hop back into the pool to continue to practice over the fall and winter. Many will also help teach any new paddlers that are interested in trying the sport.
“We are very open to growing the sport, getting more people involved, learning and having fun,” said Osler.
Co-ed polo runs on Thursday nights. Register via the Town of Huntsville.
If you are interested in knowing more about the MCPC or want to get involved, you can connect by emailing [email protected].
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