With Winter Break coming up, CSU students will be dreaming of old St. Nick while sipping down cocoa and eating festive cookies.
What some students won't be thinking about, or even realize, is when they get back from break there will be a new varsity team awaiting the chance to begin its very first season.
Last fall CSU athletic director Mark Driscoll added women's water polo as CSU's 16th varsity sport. The Rams will be part of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, composed of teams from the West Coast.
Head coach John Mattos, who is also the head swimming and diving coach, will be leading the Rams through their first season.
"It's extremely hectic for me in the sense that there is so much work outside of the on-deck and in-water work: putting teams together for the first time, getting all their equipment, all their gear, setting up the playbook, setting up the defensive work, looking at all the tapes, and doing the recruiting," Mattos said. "There's a myriad of things you have to do just to keep on top, let alone scheduling a budget, which should usually take up the majority of time when you're in the off-season. We really didn't have a chance to do any of that because we didn't have an off-season; this is our first season."
Mattos has recruited 15 players for the team and is optimistic about their potential.
"In reality, I'm pleased with our position players, I'm pleased with the progression of our goalies," Mattos said. "We've got two very solid goalies who are really going to help us out."
The Rams have already put in a lot of work to get ready for the upcoming season and have been practicing all year.
"We swim, swim, and swim, and swim, and swim," said junior goalie Holly Stanfill, who is also a team co-captain. "We do a lot of ball work, a lot of ball handling and technique."
The Rams had their first scrimmage of the year on Dec. 4 when they took on Utah's club team and won 17-7. The game started close, but the Rams took control toward the end of the first half and were winning 9-4 at halftime. The Rams shot 40 percent as a team on the day.
Freshman Laura Scruggs was the leading Rams scorer with eight goals, and junior Marisa Fernandez added five more. Stanfill stopped 22-of-29 shots in goal.
After the victory, Mattos said that even though Utah is a club team, it is one of the better water polo teams in the area.
"Believe it or not, some of the club teams throughout the nation are actually stronger than some of the NCAA teams," Mattos said.
Fernandez, who is also a co-captain, was happy with the win over Utah.
"We had never played together in a game and we heard all sorts of things that they were really good, so I was kind of scared, but we're undefeated at 1-0," she said.
Both Stanfill and Fernandez said they believe their main competition will come from the California teams. Both are from California and said they have had the opportunity to see and hear about how those teams compete.
Looking toward the rest of the season, the Rams will take part in numerous tournaments around the nation, the first one taking place Jan. 29 in Michigan at Ann Arbor. The Rams will also be hosting the CSU Tournament March 12 to 13.