The challenges facing most first-year varsity coaches can seem insurmountable. But Burlingame High School boys’ water polo coach Amy Gardner has an advantage not available to most young coaches.
Her sister, Suze Gardner, is the coach for the Burlingame girls’ water polo squad.
Amy Gardner stepped up to take the top spot after previous coach Mark Myers stepped down. Given her ability to devote her attention to the team full time and year-round, it was an easy move to make.
“It was a decision between Mark and me,” Amy Gardner said. “We both agreed it was what was best for the team.”
Amy Gardner had served as the coach for the frosh-soph team — Burlingame did not field a junior varsity team — for the past three years and has coached at the club level along with her sister for several years as well.
“It is unique,” Amy Gardner said of having siblings coaching varsity for the same school. “But I feel very lucky to work with her year-round. It’s nice for me to know she’s there since she’s been a head coach for so long.”
Her sister is also looking forward to the upcoming season.
“We coached at the club level for three years so it isn’t too different,” Suze Gardner said. “Hopefully we can help each other out. It should be fun.”
While there are no side bets on who wins more games this year, both go into the upcoming season looking to improve on last year’s performances.
Last year’s girls team finished third in the Peninsula Athletic League, its highest ever in league play, and advanced to the Central Coast Section quarterfinals before being eliminated by St. Ignatius in a one-goal loss.
“We definitely want to improve on last year,” said Suze Gardner, who begins her eighth season as coach. “We’re much younger this year and we have a lot of good energy.”
The team lost six players to graduation last spring and will field eight new players.
The leadership role will fall on the shoulders of three senior starters: Rebecca Smith, Grace Stevenson and goalie Nicole Carlton. Junior driver Charlotte Pratt, a three-year varsity player, will also play a key role.
“[Pratt] is the leader of the team,” Suze Gardner said. “She’s kind of our go-to player.”
The girls opened the season at the St. Francis Tournament on Friday and open league play at Menlo-Atherton on Sept. 29th.
The boys team will also lean on senior leadership in its first year with Amy Gardner at the helm. Co-captains Brennan Eastwood and Bergren Antell, both drivers, will look to improve on last year’s fourth-place finish in league. The team opened the season on Friday at the Lincoln Tournament with the league opener set for Oct. 13 against Woodside.
“We’re trying to push our defense and feed our offense off of it,” Suze Gardner said. “We don’t want to let the other offense control the tempo.”
Coach: Amy Gardner
Key players: Brennan Eastwood, Bergren Antell
Season opener: Opened at Lincoln Tournament this weekend
League opener: Vs. Woodside, Oct. 13
Coach: Suze Gardner
Key players: Charlotte Pratt, Rebecca Smith, Grace Stevenson, Nicole Carlton
Season opener: Opened at St. Francis tourney this weekend
League opener: At Menlo-Atherton, Sept. 29