A new beginning for water polo: Former Christian Brothers coach Hannah Widman takes on the role of men’s varsity head coach


At the opening home game against Ponderosa, newly appointed men’s varsity water polo coach Hannah Widman points to where players should reposition after an ejection. Photo by Aaryan Midha.

In addition to her commitment at Sacramento City College and Sacramento Water Polo Club, Mrs. Hannah Widman is coaching men’s varsity water polo this season. As a former competitive player with over 15 years of experience, Widman is bringing her talents to the pool to further pursue her water polo career.

“Whitney High School and its sports programs have always had a lot of potential,” Widman said. “What I bring to the table is the experience and knowledge of the game that will elevate this program to a more competitive level. I was also drawn to our beautiful facility here that is a huge positive for Whitney Aquatics as a whole.”

As head coach, Widman organizes practices that typically occur after school from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., along with interim weight training in the morning from 6:15 a.m. to 7:15 a.m. She is constantly adding new ideas to better the team performance by using her coaching experience from Christian Brothers, starting with the scrimmage Aug. 24 against Ponderosa.

“One thing that I am implementing as a new post-game ritual is [borrowing] from rugby and [having] the team nominate a Man of the Match,” Widman said. “A player who, while isn’t always the highest scorer, made the biggest impact in that game.”

The new coach brings a feeling of optimism and hope for the players, who were not able to compete in a full season last year. Among those is Jayden Rodrigues, who shined during the first game in face of a tough opponent. 

“The varsity Man of the Match was [Jayden] Rodrigues, who excelled at being everywhere in the pool we asked,” Widman said. “He took shots from everywhere, proving to Ponderosa that he couldn’t be left alone on the perimeter, and was able to pick up any slack that we had on defense. He is an extremely solid athlete and I look forward to coaching him this season.”

Rodrigues scored a total of three goals and three assists during the match, the credit to which he feels belongs to Widman. In addition to a stellar offense, his defensive abilities did not go unnoticed by the coach, who recognized and congratulated him after the game.

“With [Widman], she has definitely been helping us with our setups and our drills, certainly been making us faster as well as helping to improve our stamina,” Rodrigues said. “Overall, I think she’s doing great things for the team and I’m very much looking forward to the rest of the season.”

Players said they felt there was certainly more to work on, as the team lost 20-14. Starting goalkeeper Brendan Craft is recovering from a skateboard fall injury and had a tough time during the game, but was able to learn a lot from the skills that Widman presented.

“I like the new coach; she’s a goalie like me and seems more than qualified to train us all,” Craft said. “It’s been really hard recovering from my skateboard fall; my elbow is still pretty sensitive. I’m trying to get back in water polo shape for my last season as a senior, and [Widman] likes to push us to be the best of our abilities, which I have learned to appreciate.”