Wavebreaker

Jacob Jagodzinski maintains his passion for water polo into adulthood
Water polo coach Jacob Jagodzinski claps while watching Ladues girls swim team compete at Senior Night. He enjoyed watching his players progress over the season. “Im a pretty patient person outside of the pool, in both my career and just my regular life. Jagodzinski said. But Im a lot more aggressive in water.”
Water polo coach Jacob Jagodzinski claps while watching Ladue’s girls’ swim team compete at Senior Night. He enjoyed watching his players progress over the season. “I’m a pretty patient person outside of the pool, in both my career and just my regular life.” Jagodzinski said. “But I’m a lot more aggressive in water.”
Mac Huffman
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Water splashes, arms flail and noise erupts. The sharp sound of the whistle makes the players freeze. Puzzled, the water polo team swims to the edge, waiting for their coach Jacob Jagodzinski’s instructions. He explains the drill countless times, but is still met with perplexed faces. Jagodzinski puts his clipboard down and, without hesitation, jumps into the water. After picking up the ball, he teaches the players how to move when a goal is scored, proving his mastery. 

Jagodzinski’s journey all started with a suggestion from his swimming coach back in his adolescence.

“My swimming coach recruited me [and] told me, ‘Hey, if you like swimming and you’re not doing anything in the spring, this is definitely something you should go out and try,’” Jagodzinski said. “I swam for all four years of high school and then when I got to college, I had to choose between whether I wanted to do swimming or water polo, and I chose water polo.”

Jagodzinski took the risk. By embracing this challenge, he experienced growth and learned a valuable lesson. 

“Be comfortable just trying new things,” Jagodzinski said. “Water polo was something brand new that I tried, and I fell in love with it. A lot of people get stuck on the sport [they’ve] been doing [their] entire life, even if they’re tired of it. I’ve met a lot of people who get burnt out [from] their sports but still are doing it just because that’s what they’ve been doing. Being willing to challenge yourself and go into different areas might help.”

Fast forward from then to now, Jagodzinski’s love for water polo has only gained more depth as he has continuously explored his abilities and potential. 

“I love the sport,” Jagodzinski said. “I’ve gone down the rabbit hole of learning as much as I can and going to different opportunities I can to advance myself. I still play. I would say my time in college really challenged me a lot with my abilities, playing with people who [had] all sorts of different abilities from all over the world. So, it helped shape a well-rounded experience and gave me an interesting perspective on the sport and what it can bring to people.”

Sophomore Brielle DeRuisseau, a swimmer on the girls’ swim team coached by Jagodzinski, describes Coach Jagodzinski’s generosity and ambition, validating his role as a mentor who guides and teaches.

“He’s a really good coach,” DeRuisseau said. “He’s notorious for making pretty hard swim sets, but he’s a really good coach. He’s really fun and really loves swimming. He loves water polo and he’s really supportive and he explains things really well.”

When talking with Jagodzinski, DeRuisseau gained knowledge that can be used universally, and reshaped her perspective on swimming and the nature of competitiveness in aquatic sports by approaching it with the intent to enjoy the sport, not just aim for the win.

“His best piece of advice he’s ever given me is to just have fun,” DeRuisseau said. “He’s always giving really technical advice, which I think is really helpful. But at the end of the day, he [says], ‘Just go out there and do your best. Be proud of what you’ve done and just enjoy the experience and the work that you’ve put into what you’re about to do.’”

Glen Widjaja, a sophomore and water polo player under Jagodzinski, appreciates his leniency and emphasis on prioritizing academics over athletics and how Jagodzinski encourages his team to enjoy the game. This perspective leads to a positive experience for the athletes.

“I say he deals with [the game] very well because, of course, it’s [a] high pressure situation,” Widjaja said. “Most people won’t be able to think but he keeps relatively calm and collected. As a result, we find success. We had a really close game last year. We were up or down by one and he managed it really well and we ended up winning.”                  

Jagodzinski achieved his objective as a coach, as he aided many players to reach their highest potential and get closer to their goals regarding aquatic sports. 

“He’s helped me reach my goal to become a varsity player,” Widjaja said. “After our last game, when I was JV last year, I had hopes to become varsity. After the last game last year, he told me, ‘You’re gonna be [on] varsity next year,’ and it made me really happy that I finally got to reach that goal.”

Jagodzinski prioritizes health above sports and academics, making sure they’re doing well outside of the school environment, in their personal lives. 

“As a coach, he’s able to tell if one of us is having a bad day,” Widjaja said. “[He’ll] pull us out [and] give us a small talk. He really looks out for us.”

Jagodzinski doesn’t see an endpoint in his career and believes that he’s going to keep on enjoying water polo. 

“[With] playing [water polo], I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon,” Jagodzinski said. “For as long as I can, I would like to keep playing, [but] it just depends on what my physical status is. [For] coaching, I’ll eventually take a break at some point but it’s still something I want to keep around as much as possible and teach until I retire. I don’t see myself stopping teaching. I like what I’m doing. So, I’m going to keep on doing it.”

Caption: Water polo coach Jacob Jagodzinski claps while watching Ladue’s girls’ swim team compete at Senior Night. He enjoyed watching his players progress over the season. “I’m a pretty patient person outside of the pool, in both my career and just my regular life.” Jagodzinski said. “But I’m a lot more aggressive in water.” 

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About the Contributors
Ishaan Pandey
Ishaan Pandey, Staff
Sophomore Ishaan Pandey is a first-year staff member on Panorama. He enjoys challenging himself and trying new things. Ishaan spends his time in many various things like participating in many extracurriculars, playing Water Polo and exercising.
Mac Huffman
Mac Huffman, ID Editor in Chief
Chronic mispeller, usually outdoors, photo obsessed and founding ID Editor in Chief. When Mac's not editing, they're typically designing infographics or writing stories about identity, food and harm reduction. This is their 3rd year and final year on publications staff.
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