From students to masters
THE Alstonville 1 water polo team used to be a bunch of apprentices, but now they are masters.
They showed that when they easily dispatched Mullumbimby - the team that beat them in the Far North Coast A-grade grand final last season.
Bryce Woollett, 18, is one of the leaders in the young team that prevailed over a Mullum outfit that includes Mark Edwards.
Edwards has coached many Alstonville juniors over the years, including Woollett.
The Alstonville High School student admitted it felt weird to beat Edwards' side but he was delighted to see his team hit good form so early in the season.
"We have some good young kids coming through like Jake Barrett so it's great to see them stepping up and taking their opportunities," he said.
"I don't know what happened on Monday night - I think we scored 15 goals and they only managed three.
"It's still early in the season, though, and Mullum should get fitter as the season goes on.
"But it's fantastic to see our side gelling so well."
Woollett, who has represented NSW Combined High Schools, credited Edwards with making him the player he is today.
"I think tactically, more than anything, Mark takes you to a new level as a player," he said.
Ronan Cowie is another 18-year-old playing exceptional water polo and, like Woollett, is one of the senior members of a young team.
"When he started as a 12- or 13-year-old he was a weak swimmer but now Ronan is one of the best players in Australia for his age," Woollett said of the goalkeeper.
"He has great strength in the legs which allows him to get nice and high in the water.
"He's worked so hard to get to where he is now."
Edwards did not mind his apprentices giving his side a beating.
"Losing to those kids doesn't matter, it's good to see them do well," he said.
"Ronan and Bryce have represented Queensland and have done extremely well in the sport.
"Ronan was the difference the other night - it was hard to score against him.
"And Bryce is just fast and a good all-rounder - he can attack and defend well."