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Water polo stays afloat at Sierra College

By: Cecil Conley, Sports Editor
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Men's water polo has remained afloat at Sierra College because coach Chris Breitbart refused to let it sink. Budget cuts at the college jeopardized the program. Breitbart figured the only way he could save his team was by making it self-sufficient. Breitbart offered to raise the money to keep the program buoyant. Breitbart reached out to swimmers he coaches in the Masters program, which uses the college's pool. He met with his water polo players and implored them to look for money wherever they could find it. "I told (the board of trustees) to give us a shot if we could pay our own way," Breitbart said. "We needed about $15,000 to $20,000 to do it. Some of the Masters swimmers helped us out by donating big chunks." Not only did Breitbart have to raise money, but he also had to convince his players that the team would survive. Talk of budget cuts can lead to an exodus of athletes fearful they will not have a place to play. Breitbart conceded that he lost a couple of players, but the cupboard was hardly bare when the 2010 season began. The Wolverines had ample talent to make a legitimate run at reaching the state playoffs. Sierra did just that, qualifying for the Northern California Cup for the first time in Breibart's four years at the helm. The Wolverines even made through the first round by pulling off an upset, defeating American River 13-12 in overtime last Friday. Sierra's season came to an abrupt end a day later, however, with a 14-6 loss to West Valley. Breitbart refused to let one loss diminish all that his team accomplished this season. The Wolverines survived on their own and brought home a third-place trophy from the Northern California Cup. Sophomore Josh Collision from Oakmont High School was named to the all-Big 8 Conference team. He was also a second-team Northern California selection and an honorable mention All-American. Sophomore Josef Frech and freshman Taylor Rocha were second-team selections in the all-conference voting. "Everything is getting cut right now, but sports are important," he said. "Luckily, we rallied our troops to raise the money. It was worth fighting for."