Being a freshman in college can be difficult.
Being a freshman and a member of an NCAA Division I team can be even tougher.
Being a freshman, starting in every game and being second on the team in goals for a NCAA team can be near impossible.
You get the idea.
Carly Ternasky can handle it, though. The San Clemente, Calif. native is the second on the team with 19 goals and has started in each of her team’s 16 games.
Ternasky took a break from preparing for this weekend’s Aggie Shootout to sit down with Aggie Sports writer Jason Alpert and discuss her freshman year, her hopes for the rest of the season and her early fear of water.
What’s it like being a freshman on a Division I team?
It’s pretty cool. It can get pretty intimidating at times because there are some bigger more experience players. Overall, it’s pretty fun and super exciting. It’s great to be part of an NCAA team and to be able to compete with girls who really know how to play the sport.
What are the differences between high school and college water polo?
There are so many differences. It’s insane how everyone in college wants to play water polo and do well. Everyone does their best and strives to do their best every day at practice. Above all else, collegiate players love to play the sport and love to get better at water polo. You don’t necessarily see that in high school. In high school it’s more for Physical Education credit to get through the four years.
So far you’re the team leader in goals. It’s got to be fun to light up the scoreboard, right?
It’s really exciting. It is a great feeling to be doing so well, especially in my first year at college. At first I just really wanted to get my first goal. I was expecting that to happen later in my first year or possibly my second year, but I never expected it to happen in my first collegiate game ever. Not a lot of the teams we play expect a freshman to be leading the team in scoring, so it adds a bit of pressure. But at the same time, it’s really exciting to be the person the other team thinks about as a goal-scorer.
Your first collegiate home game is this weekend at the Aggie Shootout. How do you feel about playing in your first game at Schaal Pool?
It’s great to finally be playing up here in Davis. We finally get to play at home and get an opportunity to protect our home turf. I’m not too nervous about playing at home because it’s like any other game we’ve played. I’m more excited about these games, though, because they’re at home.
You’ve played 16 college games so far. Which one has been your favorite?
I think my favorite game was at the Nor Cal Cup against Pacific. It was our first game of the year and it was super exciting because it went to overtime and we won. It was also my first actual college game and I scored my first goal so it will always be special for me because of that. The intensity level was so high and it was super fun all around.
Big West Conference play officially begins in a couple weeks. You’ve played some Big West teams already so you’ve had a chance to see some of them. What are you thinking before conference play starts?
I think overall we’re going to do really well. We’ve played some intense teams like UCLA and Cal and they’re both really good. I think we held our own against them, so once it comes to conference we should do pretty well.
What do you think is the biggest key to the team’s success?
I really think communication is our best bet to win games and I think we do that pretty well. If we’re behind and we need help back in our zone, our center defenders will come back to help. The goalies are talking, letting the team know what to do. I think our best bet to win is if the team is talking.
What is the team chemistry like?
I think everyone gets along really well. At first it was a little weird because everyone else knew each other and they were coming back and reuniting and the freshmen were off on their own, but as the season has gone on we’ve gotten really close. We’re basically like a family in that we help each other and we can talk about anything with each other and be okay with it.
How have the upperclassmen helped you and the rest of the freshmen transition to the Division I level?
A lot of them have told us about their experiences as a freshman and how it was hard for them. They told us they were in the same position not really knowing what was going on. They’ve been a real life example for us, showing us that we can do it, we don’t have to be afraid of anybody and we can be a freshman on the team and still do well.
I read somewhere that you used to be deathly afraid of water as a child. Is this true?
Yes, it is actually. My mom used to take me to a “mommy and me” swim class when I was younger. Right when we got there I would cling onto her and cry my eyes out because I did not want to go into the water. I would hold onto the pool edge when I was in the water because I didn’t want to swim.
How did you finally overcome this fear?
My mom just finally threw me into the deep end. Also my brother played water polo in high school so I got familiar with the sport and eventually started playing and really enjoyed it.
Are you glad your mom finally threw you into the deep end?
Oh yeah. I know if she hadn’t done that I would not be where I am today. Because of that, my mom is one of biggest role models. She’s everything to me. My mother has helped me out so much throughout my life.
JASON ALPERT can be reached at email@example.com.