You’d think after four days of tough water polo the last thing Sarah Hofman, Bianca Mulligan, Mackenzie Abra and Hannah Irwin would be wanting to do is dive straight into another state championships.
But that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Infused with the adrenaline of helping the North West side win an historic bronze medal, the quartet couldn’t wait to jump in for Tamworth at the Under-16s State Championships.
The championships get underway at the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre on Monday, and will see Tamworth lining up in A Division.
“We’re all pretty pumped,” Irwin said, speaking after North West had beaten Hunter 6-3 in the third/fourth play-off.
For Abra and Mulligan it was their first time representing North West, while Irwin and Hofman were part of the side that finished fifth last year.
Hofman scored the goal the sealed the bronze for them, a bomb from out on the right, and loved the week.
“It was great,” she said.
Mulligan played in goals for the North West side, as she will do for Tamworth, and was superb against Hunter.
“I just started playing goalie late last year,” she said.
A goalie in hockey, it was a dislike for swimming up and down the pool more than anything that saw her put her hand up for the keeping duties after striking a deal with Hofman.
“I made a deal with Sarah that if she did indoor hockey I would do water polo,” she said.
All four are stepping up from last year’s Tamworth under-14s.
Their 16s co-coaches Sean Hofman and Abby Griffiths were pool deck on Thursday to cheer on the North West side and were “very positive” about how the Tamworth side should perform.
“It’s very exciting when you’ve got four girls that just played in an open championships,” Hofman said.
And played prominent roles too with [Sarah] Hofman scoring a double in the play-off and Mulligan pulling off some great saves to keep Hunter scoreless in the final quarter.
“It certainly gives you a lot of confidence going into a championships when your goalkeeper is on song and ready to play,” [Sean] Hofman said.
The quartet are representative of what is a young side with only two top-age girls in Bianca Watson and Sarah Klasen. Klasen had last year off representative water polo but has been training well and fitted back in seamlessly.
Hofman is under no illusions though about how tough it is going to be playing in the top division, and said a mid-table finish would be a good result.
“Just competing in A Division for a bottom-age side would be a good feat,” he said.
“But I think they’re prepared and ready for it.”
After doing the hard yards through the winter to get their fitness up to scratch, they’ve spent the last couple of months sharpening up their skills in the water.
They have drawn Canberra first-up, followed by Hunter.
The boys championships are being played at the same time, and will see Tamworth joining forces with Alstonville.
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