The Haney Neptunes water polo team is looking for new members, and Olympian Monika Eggens, seen here visiting the club, is helping with the recruiting. (Special to The News)

The Haney Neptunes water polo team is looking for new members, and Olympian Monika Eggens, seen here visiting the club, is helping with the recruiting. (Special to The News)

Olympian Eggens helps Maple Ridge water polo rebuild

Haney Neptunes have lost members after pool closures, then COVID

The Haney Neptunes are trying to rebuild their water polo team, and a star of the sport is lending a hand.

Olympian Monika Eggens will be poolside with the local club, to help inspire kids and introduce them to the sport.

The Pitt Meadows resident was part of the national women’s team that competed at the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics. She served as team captain.

READ ALSO: Eggens this year’s Hometown Hero

She first played for Team Canada in 2007 at the world junior championships, and was a senior national team member from 2009 until the 2020 games.

“Monika is one of the most successful water polo players Canada has ever produced, and she’s also a Haney Neptune alumnus,” said Antony Cowie, a former Neptunes president and current board member.

Her sister, Carmen Eggens, was also a national team player, and their family was involved in founding the Neptunes swim club.

Cowie said it’s invaluable to have Monika inspire the kids by giving them a few pointers, and telling them how it is possible to launch an international career from their hometown pool.

He noted the club was first hit by pool closures necessitated by the renovations at the Maple ridge Leisure Centre. They were already rebuilding, the shut down again by COVID-19.

They need to build up the teams at every age level, and there are offering free two-week trials for kids to try the sport. They can come at any time, to being their trial, and be part of the team for two weeks without making any kind of financial commitment. He suggest spring break is a great time, and Eggens will be involved on March 26 and 27.

Cowie said the sport sells itself to those who try it.

“You combine your love of swimming with a competitive team sport,” he said, adding water polo includes “nuances of handball and of basketball.”

“It’s incredibly competitive, and incredibly challenging,” he added. “And with that, it’s also really rewarding.”

Any potential athlete between the ages of nine and 14 is invited to join for the two-week free trial. The ability to swim 25 meters unaided is required. Anyone interested can email hnacwaterpolo@gmail.com.

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