New sports in the Sacred Heart Community


As of the 2017-2018 school year, fencing and water polo have become part of Sacred Heart Greenwich’s athletic program. Sacred Heart offers fencing in the winter season and water polo in the spring season, giving Sacred Heart athletes the opportunity to participate in both sports and try something new. 

Sacred Heart’s water polo team competing in their first game against Hopkins School. Courtesy of Mr. Brendan Heller.

Sacred Heart water polo head coach Mr. Gabriel Maldonado has been playing water polo for over 20 years, starting at the age of ten. Originally from Venezuela, Mr. Maldonado played the sport professionally for eight years and later won the National Master Tournament in April 2014 in Augusta, Georgia. Mr. Maldonado hopes to bring Sacred Heart’s water polo team to the Fairchester Athletic Association (FAA) Championship in the future.

“Water polo is a team sport, similar to soccer but played mainly with hands and practiced in a pool,” Mr. Maldonado said. “It consists of six field players plus a goalkeeper, and the [objective] is to score more goals than the [opposing] team. The game is divided into four [quarters] of eight minutes. It is a very demanding sport because the workouts are strong and the game is hard and very physical.”

Water polo has many benefits for athletes, as it relieves stress, teaches strategy, and prevents injuries. It is also a team sport which encourages collaboration and accountability, according to

Freshman water polo player Isabella Lippolis regularly trains with Greenwich Aquatics and also began training this year at Sacred Heart. Isabella has been playing water polo since the age of ten and the Olympic Development Program (ODP) recently rewarded her with the Nick Johnson Inspiration Award at the ODP Water Polo National Championships in Northern California. The Inspiration Award annually recognizes athletes that embody the vision and values of the Olympic Development Program. 

“My favorite part about water polo has to be the team and relationship you build with each other. How a water polo team plays together can show everything about them. I think it’s a great quality to be bonded with your team, and it benefits everyone greatly,” Isabella said. 

Similar to water polo, fencing is a rigorous full body workout. Fencing incorporates agility, strength, coordination, balance, and timing. In fencing, physical ability is just as important as mental strategy. The competitors in a fencing match wear protective gear, including gloves, headgear, and a jacket. Fencing features three types of weapons which then categorize the different levels in which the athletes compete. The swords used include the epee, the foil, and the saber, according to

Lily Santangelo ’21 and Sasha Kalinichenko ’21 demonstrating their fencing skills for the Upper School. Courtesy of Mrs. Haley Sonneland.

Students in the Sacred Heart community also fence outside of the new program. Freshman Alexandra Kalinichenko fences all year round and says it is an engaging sport and a great way to meet new friends. 
Many other schools in the Unites States are also recognizing the merits of these sports, adding fencing and water polo to their athletic programs.

“Fencing and water polo were brought into Sacred Heart this school year as experimental sports,” Sacred Heart Greenwich Athletics Coordinator Carolina Herrera said. “Both sports are growing nationwide and we, as an Athletics Department, want to offer different athletic options to all student while staying competitive throughout the year.”