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A Cal Women's Water Polo Blog By Grace Raisin

Jan 20, 2022

Senior Grace Raisin takes readers inside Cal women's water polo in this season's blog.

May 5, 2022

Hey, Bear fans,
Grace here for the final post of Grace's Gossip. First, I want to thank everyone for following along with the Bears' journey this season and being such supportive family members, friends, alumni, and fans. We have had a very unique season filled with ups and downs, mostly ups, but we are not done yet. Our journey is not quite over. In fact, we just got to the most exciting part - the NCAA Championship, which we have been preparing for all year. 
The past week and a half, after the MPSF Championships, we have been grinding and getting ready to face Michigan on Friday at 3 p.m. (PT). Obviously most of the preparation takes place in the pool, but we also have been able to do some activities to get our mindset ready, which also takes practice. I've mentioned previously that we have been using the Calm App to work on our focus and breathing, thanks to Peatie. We have been utilizing that app a lot in the past week and a half. 
For one of the sessions during practice, we all put our headphones in and listened to a 10-minute mindful walk recording. As a team, we went on a short silent walk together through campus listening to the woman on the app. Afterward, we discussed how we were really mindful of the way that our body works, and in tune with all the little sensations that happen when you pay attention. For example, when we were walking, she had us focus on how your heel touches the ground, and then the ball of your foot, and how every single toe touches the ground and springs you up. We were also able to take in the beauty of the campus, and how all the trees seemed to be brighter, and the smell of the pines by the creek was refreshing. 
Another activity that we did before we left was get in touch with the goals we set at the beginning of the season when we returned to campus at the start of 2022. On one of the first days of practice, we all received a puzzle piece and got to decorate it however we wanted to, and then put it away. It wasn't until this past week that we got them back and finally put the puzzle together. It made us realize how important each and every one of us are to each other and to CalWWP. Even though we are all different sizes, shapes, ages, experiences, levels, etc, we need each and every one of us together and united in order for us to be strong. When we are all united as one, it's beautiful and special. Everyone on this team plays a role in the success that we have achieved, and will continue to achieve. 
We have arrived in Michigan at the Sheraton, along with about five other teams - which is a little awkward, especially when you get stuck in the elevator with them, let alone another coach. Regardless, the excitement outweighs any other emotion. The Bears are BACK and they are READY.  
Friday's game against the Wolverines will decide the next time the Bears play. We will hopefully be participating in Saturday and Sunday's games. Be sure to watch all the action on and ESPNU.. 
I want to end with one last thing: 

April 21, 2022

Hi, Bear fans! It's the most exciting time of the year. It's time for the biggest tournaments of the season. Your Bears are headed to Los Angeles this weekend to compete in the MPSF Tournament hosted by USC. This weekend is one that we have been preparing for the most as it is the next important step for us to display our best performances and get some big wins. 
In the beginning of the season we had many meetings and conversations about our goals for this season. Our biggest goal was to make Cal WWP history, and although it can capture a lot of different things, this goal is still on our horizon and in our focus. We were able to reflect this week on our very first day of this journey together. Our very first practice was on August 25, 2021. It was the first time this squad was all together, thinking of what the future might entail for us, naive to all the things that we were going to face these last six months. 
We wrote letters to ourselves about what we hoped to accomplish, and how we were going to reach those goals. We also wrote about all the feelings one has right before a year of dedication and work, as well as all the feelings associated with being alongside our fellow teammates and best friends. We were able to read those letters this week and reflect on them, seeing what has stayed the same and what has changed. 
Georgia Gilmore shared her letter with the team and it really inspired all of us. Georgia allowed me to share it all with you. She talked about the feelings she has with this being the end of her water polo career at Cal. Her letter said that she wants to be proud of herself, her teammates, and her journey. She hopes that she felt loved and spread love on the team. She hopes that her teammates are happy, healthy, and champions. 
Georgia's reflection after reading that letter this week is that she is happy, and that there is so much love in this team. She said that although we aren't champions yet, and we have faced adversity, we can not lose sight of all that we are capable of doing. She wanted to remind us to believe in ourselves, each other, what we stand for as a team and what we've put so much time and effort into accomplishing.
I think this is a very strong testament to our team as a whole and our attitude toward this very important weekend ahead. Our first game will be against USC on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. For all the folks who can't make it to L.A. this weekend, be sure to hop on the live stream. Go Bears!

April 15, 2022

Hey, Bear fans! We have a HUGE game tomorrow at Avery Aquatic Center at 12 p.m. against Stanford. Last week we had a bye weekend, which has allowed us to prepare for our biggest conference game of the year - the Big Splash.  
A big point of emphasis the past two weeks for the Bears have been focus and preparation. Assistant Coach Heather Petri has been running the team through an exercise about three times a week where we have to practice focus and visualization techniques so that we can learn how to find our inner calm and reset amongst chaos and outside distractions, especially when it comes to games. We've done this by using the Calm app, and it has been a huge help. Some of the sessions on the app take only a few minutes, but we practice focusing on our breathing and then translating that focus into the pool. 
This past week we also got a chance to have a session with the Cameron Institute and Dr. Graig Chow to speak about confidence and the championship mindset. As much as physical preparation is essential, something that I love about being a part of CalWWP is that we also work on another extremely important muscle - our brain. Mental preparation is crucial, and Dr. Chow was great in teaching us that belief is a prerequisite for high performance, how confidence is evidence-based and earned, why having doubts can be helpful, and ultimately how to build, maintain, and regain confidence. 
The Bears are getting together for a Friday night dinner in the Legends team room to enjoy some specialty Simmons sauce. Coralie made a bunch of pasta and meat sauce for us all to enjoy as a team - another essential component of our preparation to take down the tree. 
I hope to see you all this Saturday in Palo Alto for the Big Splash! Go Bears and Beat Stanford!!

April 1, 2022

Hellooooo, Bear fans! I hope you missed me and my fellow Bears after our long trip throughout the Midwest. We were able to travel and spend time in five different states in eight days. Even the 20-minute bathroom break at an Arby's in Ohio counts!

I have a lot to fill you in on…let's get into it. Most importantly, we beat ASU, Indiana, and Michigan with, one might say, ease. Your Bears are playing pretty well and it can be attributed to how well we know each other both in and out of the pool, and a tremendous amount of work. 
We spent the first two days of the trip in Arizona. After our win, we were able to enjoy a team dinner together in the grass right next to a river and enjoyed a beautiful sunset. We knew that was the best weather we were going to be getting for a while. That night we also had a team activity where all 24 of us tried to find a way to fit on a grate, almost like a manhole covering. It started where only two people were allowed to talk and try to direct and show 22 other people how to try to work together. After a while, we were all able to talk and brainstorm together. Not only do activities like this help us bond, they help with our communication in the pool. 
We then flew to Indiana, and had quite the day of traveling. From Indianapolis, we had to take a bus to Bloomington. For a lot of the girls, we spent time during our bus rides playing Crazy Eights, which is essentially UNO but on our phones. Like I have mentioned in the past, we really can make anything overly competitive. A few of the nappers on the bus got woken up due to our screams over Crazy Eights, usually when Maryn Dempsey would pull out the plus four card on everyone. 
In Indiana, after our win, we were able to attend the Indiana-Princeton women's March Madness basketball game. We had so much fun. Even though we didn't quite know who to cheer for, we still were super into it, being loud and cheering for the girls. The atmosphere was amazing. Indiana has a different breed of fans - Cal might need to take some notes. The next morning before we played an exhibition game against Indiana we were able to use the weight room facilities for our lift, and it was amazing to see. We even got to go onto the football field right after since they are connected to one another. 

Our last journey was to Michigan, where we had a four-hour bus ride (the one where we stopped in Ohio). Crazy Eights was played, as well as many braid trains. Yes, braids. The most popular hairstyle over the trip was the two French braids, courtesy of our braiders - Megan Musick and Helena Batey. Megan even got Heather Petri rocking the hairstyle. We also got a tour of Michigan's football stadium and got to see the locker rooms, which was special because of Michigan's football history. We all were taking bets of which one was Tom Brady's locker.

Even though it was Michigan's senior game, it was our most important game as well. They had some pretty close games with top teams, but we went out there and played Bear ball, and it paid off. We ended our cross country trip on a high note with a 13-8 victory over the Wolverines. 
The trip was one for the books and we all had a lot of fun, and enjoyed the experience of traveling with the team, and also having some great competition. Speaking of competition, this Saturday the Bears play UC Irvine at 12:30 p.m. at Speiker, and best of all, IT'S SENIOR DAY. We get to celebrate eight fantastic seniors (Georgia Gilmore, Elli Protopapas, Emma Wright, Cynthia Mulder, Kitty Lynn Joustra, Carson Broad, and yours truly, Grace Raisin) that have dedicated a lot to the program and it will be their last home game at Speiker, ever! If everyone could try their best to make it that would be awesome - if not, tell a friend! It'll be a pool party!

See you all this weekend and GO BEARS!

March 17, 2022

Hi, Bear fans! 
Hope you have all had an amazing week. We for sure have! Last weekend's game against SJSU was another beautiful sunny day in Berkeley and one of the last home games of the season at Spieker. We always enjoy playing in front of you and it's even better after a win. Our 12-5 win against San Jose?? State was the kickoff to prepare for our eight-day cross country trip.
Where will the Bears be over Spring Break, you might ask? Well, we are going to be traveling to three different states in eight days! It was a little weird having to pack for 80 degree weather and 30 degree weather - lots of shorts and pairs of sweats on deck. We are first arriving in Arizona on St. Patrick's Day for our Friday game against ASU. We are flying to Indiana on Saturday for our game on the 21st against Indiana. We then are bussing to Michigan for our game against the Wolverines on the 25th. 
Because we have a long trip ahead of us, we had a productive short week of preparation. One of our major points of emphasis was improving our communication. We did an exercise out of the pool to work on this by getting in groups of five and counting to five. The catch is that the person who would say the number 5 can't say it, and the next person starts at 1 again. After a round of this, we continued to do it with our eyes closed, and then went up to 7. It was an interesting exercise to look at the different ways we can communicate. Some groups held hands, some hummed instead of saying 5, some tapped each other. We all have so many different ways of communicating and it was definitely shown at practice. 
Another activity we did was to come to practice after our San Jose State game having written down something in the game that you did well and something someone else did well. After sharing with everyone, it was special to have your teammates recognize your hard work and share it verbally. We all have so much love for one another on this team and it was felt in the team room. 
The Bears are in travel mode right now and hope you all can hop on the live streams! Go Bears! 

March 11, 2022

Hey, Bear fans! The Bears are back at Spieker again this weekend! After last week's tough loss against UCLA at home, we have been back to work to continue on our journey of improving every week. Although we did not get the outcome that we would have wanted last weekend, we couldn't have asked for a better crowd and support system at Spieker. The stands were completely packed and it seemed as if the cheers rattled the whole complex. 
Last weekend was also special because we had an alumni event and recruits. All of the alumni that came added to the atmosphere and we all feel so thankful to be able to be supported by a group of such inspirational women. We also had the opportunity to host some pretty special recruits. After the UCLA game we all headed down to Legends pool where we had a "paint party." Essentially, we all had our own canvases, paints, and paintbrushes and were able to follow along with a teacher to paint Oski. The whole process took a couple hours. Who would've thought that we were such competitive people that we can make painting Oski to perfection an event? We all really tapped into our creative side and had some pretty awesome depictions of Oski. The Oski that was voted the fan favorite via our Instagram was Carson Broad's, which was very much deserved. Honorable mention would have to go to Claire Rowell and Petie! 
This past week we also celebrated a special birthday - Ruby Swadling's! The big 21, baby. We all had a chance to get together and celebrate her. The best part is that we had a little surprise birthday party where we all dressed up as Euphoria characters. Even though the season is over, we can't get enough of our Euphoria. Helena Batey was Rue's twin that day - impeccable costume. 
Saturday is another game day versus San Jose State at our home and the Bears can't wait to play and put on a show for our fans. We've been working really hard and it's time for us to get back on the horse and back to domination before our cross country spring break trip that we leave for next Thursday! Can't wait to see you all there!

March 4, 2022

Hello, Bear fans!
The Blog is back after a little break due to unforeseen adversity that the Bears have faced in the past couple of weeks. The thing about the Bears is that they know how to handle that adversity and thrive in the midst of it, and that is just what we have been doing!
Although we were unable to attend the Barbara Kalbus Invitational, the past two weeks we have been grinding to prepare for this weekend's match against UCLA. We can't wait to be back to competition, especially at Spieker, our home turf. 
On that weekend off, some of us were able to get together to have a viewing of our team's favorite show - Euphoria. This past Sunday was the very anticipated final episode of the season. It was very exciting to get together to watch the last episode. We're all extremely invested in the show and all of the characters. We never miss an episode on Sunday nights at 6 p.m. Not to spoil the ending, but the apartment was full of screams and perhaps a few tears by the final minutes of the show. 
We like to have a lot of fun together and send each other silly things from time to time. Some group chat highlights of the week were the immunity shot reviews given by Isabel Williams, Kitty Lynn Joustra, and Alyssa Barnuevo. Essentially, they took videos of themselves drinking the immunity shots and reviewed the flavor and ingredients, and if they would recommend them. The thing about them is they're not necessarily supposed to taste good, so the reactions after they finished them were priceless. 
We can't wait to put on a show this weekend for you that can come to the game, and for those that are able to watch the live stream. The Bears are back and better than ever! Tune in at 1:30 p.m. when we take down the Bruins!

February 18, 2022

Hey, Bear fans! After a two-week hiatus from the blog, I have a lot of filling in to do. First and foremost, your Bears beat Stanford two weekends ago, and now sit No. 2 in the rankings with our best start since 2009!
After that weekend of the Stanford Invitational, where we went 3-0 against Stanford, UC Davis, and ASU, we had the weekend off of training to focus on some rest and recovery. Some player highlights of the weekend were Maryn Dempsey and Mallory Reynoso's trip to the beach in Marin. Claire Rowell and Avrey Larson took a trip down south to Santa Cruz, where they also enjoyed the beach - we just can't get away from the water. Georgia Gilmore, Carson Broad and I took a nice visit to Sonoma, where we got to soak up the sun while enjoying a charcuterie board picnic in the park. A lot of Bears also got to spend some quality time with their families.
The Bears felt very loved on Valentine's Day. Shout out to Isabel Williams and Cynthia Mulder for bringing the team personalized Valentine's cards and candy - it made everyone's day. Another shout out to Coach Petie for her homemade pink Rice Krispies - another fan favorite and the perfect after-practice treat. 
This past week, we got the opportunity to hear from the Cal Athletics DEIBJ office (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Justice and Belonging), whose representatives are Dr. Ty-Ron Douglas and Bobby Thompson - two leaders and educators who, among other things, spread awareness about racism and sexism across the campus, the student-athlete community, and outside of these communities. It was special to be able to connect with our fellow teammates, coaches, and Dr. Douglas and Bobby Thompson on important issues amid a wave of civic turmoil and racial reconciliation. We had very meaningful conversations about creating a community where everyone feels welcome and equal. Getting to connect water polo and outside alliances on the basis of justice was a very meaningful dialog for us. 
This past week we have also been preparing for our trip down to USC, where we play the No. 3 ranked Trojans at 1 p.m. at the Uytengsu Aquatics Center. We have been watching a lot of film and been getting after it in both the pool and the weight room in order to take down the Trojans at their home. For all the fans who will not be able to make it, make sure to tune into the Pac-12 Networks!

February 4, 2022
Hey, Bear fans!
Grace here again with another week of Grace's Gossip! Yet another dominant tournament in Berkeley this past week with another four wins against Fresno State, UOP, Long Beach State, and San Jose State. It was a beautiful weekend in Berkeley, where we finally got to play at home in front of our family and friends. The atmosphere was electric. 
We got right back to business this week focusing on our 6-on-5, zone defenses, and lots of conditioning in order to prepare for the Stanford Invitational. We also have had a change in our lift, focusing more on explosive work. The team knows how to grind it out in the weight room and push heavy weights, challenging and pushing each other to become stronger everyday. 
There were quite a bit of birthdays the past couple weeks. Shout out to the birthday girls Jessie Rose, Carson Broad, and Grace Hurst. In the beginning of the year we all randomly get assigned a person that we will be in charge of making a birthday treat of their choice. Mara Loughlin absolutely crushed it in the baking department, making Carson's request of "Scandalous Brownies," which includes a layer of chocolate chip cookies, Oreos, with brownies on top. They tasted that much sweeter after a long swim set.
We're looking forward to another exciting weekend of water polo this weekend when we play Stanford, Arizona State, and UC Davis.\

Thanks for tuning in! Go Bears! 

January 28, 2022

Hey Bear fans,
Grace here with another week of Grace's Gossip. The Bears returned home Sunday evening after a dominant weekend at the ASU tournament, going 4-0, sweeping all teams across the board. It was a very important weekend for us to establish the start of our season, and came up victorious against Michigan, Arizona State, Fresno State, and UC Irvine.
The best part of the weekend was the collective effort of all the individuals on the team. The support, hard work, and determination from the beginning of the fall into the start of the season paid off and we are excited to show you what else we have in store for the continuation of the season.
One of the highlights of the trip was the airport TikToks - shout out to Maryn Dempsey for her infamous "jerk" move. Coralie even introduced us to one of her favorites - the Roger Rabbit.
Another highlight was the meals shared that ended in "Werewolves," a game we all love to play. It's led by Kitty Lynn Joustra and there is a lot of friendly banter.
Shout out to all the families that came out to Arizona to support, as well as those on the live stream. The love and cheer was felt from everyone, and we all appreciate our diehard Bear fans.
We host the Cal Cup this weekend at Spieker, and get started Saturday morning against Fresno State. We then follow with games against UOP, Long Beach State, and San Jose State. Go Bears!

January 20, 2022

Hello, Bear Fans.
Grace Raisin here, senior on the Cal women's water polo team. I will be writing this blog this year and giving you an inside scoop on our weekly endeavors, and some behind-the-scenes updates into the lives of my fellow Bears and teammates! I'm so excited to share with you and look forward to giving you some juicy gossip into our lives.
The Bears returned to campus on January 3rd after winter break to undergo our "hell month" which ended this past week. We got a lot of conditioning, water polo, and team activities in before school started to prepare for the beginning of the season, which starts this weekend at the ASU tournament! Some of the highlights from our "hell month" was absolutely crushing the test set on the first day back, the delicious meals that were provided from Cal dining, the chance to scrimmage, team activities, and movie nights.
The favorite team activity by far was the kick board pickleball tournament. We were randomly paired up and made a giant bracket, and played pickleball on the pool deck. But the paddles were kickboards and the courts were made from duct tape and fold-up chairs. It definitely brought out the spirit of competition - you could definitely say that we are a very competitive team.
Although there were very close games - some more heated than others - Lily Turner and Jessie Rose clinched the final against Avrey Larson and me. I still may be a little bitter about that.
Anyway, there were many highlights of "hell month," but the bonding and grinding was super vital to the beginning of our season. We all can't wait to play some water polo.
We get started Friday morning against Michigan and also play Arizona State, Fresno State and UC Irvine during the weekend. Go Bears!