Castillo (9) and Chasin (11) compete at USA Water Polo Olympic Development Program

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Spencer Kolker, Contributing Writer

Noah Castillo (9) and Max Chasin (11) competed at the USA Water Polo Olympic Development Program (ODP) Eastern Regional Championships in Greensboro, North Carolina last weekend. Castillo and Chasin played for the chance to make the USA National Olympic Development team and join the USA Junior Olympic water polo teams for their age groups, 15 and 17, respectively. Chasin was selected to the Northeast Zone (NEZ) team that lwill compete at ODP Nationals. 

Castillo and Chasin first participated in five-hour NEZ regional tryouts on alternating Sundays for three weeks in November at Pennsylvania. Each zone holds a tryout where the coaches and scouts select two teams of 14 players out of hundreds of players in each region.

Then, at ODP Regionals, 14 players from each zone were chosen to represent their zone at the ODP National Championships in California. “[At ODP Regionals], I played against the Southeast zone, the Great Lakes zone, and the Midwest zone, who also [each] run two teams,” Chasin said. “From there, [scouts and coaches] pick kids they notice are talented enough to compete in this national team selection camp, which will eventually lead to the junior national team.”

Reaching this level in water polo is difficult and requires a lot of time, work, and dedication, Varsity Water Polo coach Michale Duffy said. Castillo and Chasin are both dedicated to the sport — they play for the school team and year round on their club team, CT Premier Water Polo, he said.

“Both work very hard while they are here, and they get along well with their teammates and coaches,” Duffy said. “Because they work really hard and take it very seriously, I think it helps the rest of the team as well.”

Castillo and Chasin are both experienced water polo players. Castillo started when he was seven, after growing bored of swimming, he thought water polo would be a fun opportunity, he said. He began to take the sport more seriously at eleven when he realized he had a passion for it. A year later, he competed at the USA Water Polo ODP Regionals for the U12 team where he represented the Great Lakes region.

Similarly, Chasin started playing at 10 because his parents wanted him to play a unique sport and he thoroughly enjoyed it, he said. When Chasin was 12, he played with CT Premier at the Junior Olympics in the U12 competition and reached the ODP Nationals at the age of 14.

Chasin has played for CT Premier throughout his entire career, while Castillo used to play for Brooklyn Hustle and switched to CT Premier in the summer of 2020. Castillo joined so that he could gain more practice and experience, he said.

Castillo plays as the center, or hole set, on his teams. “The center is two meters in front of the goal, and the rest of the offense is in a semicircle around it,” Castillo said. 

Chasin plays as the two meter defender. He blocks the center from shooting, he said. Chasin cano play all positions, but the two meter defender is his best and his favorite one  because of his skill set and experience in playing it.

Having previously competed in California at ODP Nationals, Chasin finds it to be a very different way of playing, he said. “It was super weird because when you play in California it’s a huge adjustment given that all the pools are outside,” he said. “It’s a completely different atmosphere and a different game when you play out there.”

In addition to playing at the ODP Regionals this past weekend, both also played in California in December at the KAP7 Holiday tournament. At KAP7, Chasin won gold in the U16 age group with CT Premier.

Chasin and Castillo’s drive and skill make them role models for their teammates on the school’s team, even though Castillo has only been on the team for this season. “Noah’s young, but everybody looks up to Noah and Max because of their experience,” Duffy said.