On your mark, get set … read!
Nobody loved a reading challenge as much as Sarah Caywood did when the New Trier senior water polo standout was a grade-school student.
A chart kept track of the number of words each student in Caywood’s class had read. Caywood usually won the contests, with her word counts reaching 4,000-5,000 words.
“I’m competitive,” the 5-foot-6 Caywood — a center and hole-set force for a perennially strong program — admitted last weekend. “I don’t like to lose.”
Caywood and her team of Trevians won another water polo sectional on May 13, downing Evanston 7-5 in Glenbrook North’s pool. The result improved NT coach Matt Wendt’s mark in sectional title games to 6-2, including 2-2 in Spartans water.
His 2017 edition’s next chapter: a state quarterfinal game against Naperville Central, scheduled for May 18 at Stevenson.
Caywood scored two goals against Evanston’s Wildkits last weekend — exactly a week after tallying the game-winner in an 8-7, sudden-death triple-overtime win over the same crew in the Central Suburban League title game.
Caywood, in her third season on varsity, ranks second among teammates in goals and assists for a 20-9 squad. But she’s first in a category that has nothing to do with polo.
“She’s our lead singer on bus rides, always singing at the top of her lungs,” Wendt said. “Miley Cyrus’ ‘Party in the U.S.A.’ — Sarah recently sang that pretty loudly. Sarah is a leader for us in the pool and out of the pool.
“That’s pretty cool,” he added.
Caywood threw a high heater through the outstretched arms of Evanston goalie Leah Freidman in the sectional final last weekend, giving NT a 5-3 lead at 4:42 of the third quarter. Her first goal had broken a 1-1 tie late in the first quarter.
But the goal that moved Caywood the most last weekend was the rebound goal authored by another Caywood. Leah Caywood — Sarah’s sophomore sister — alertly gathered a free ball, following a shot from Trevians senior Emma Valdiserri, and flicked it past Freidman.
It widened NT’s advantage to 6-3 with 2:31 left in the third frame.
“Leah’s goal was beautiful,” said the proud sister, a 2016 illpolo.com all-stater who played for NT’s state runner-up team in ’15. “It gave me chills.”
The sisters played in last year’s 13-7 state quarterfinal loss to eventual champion Fenwick. Sarah started the game but had to exit for good two minutes in after committing her third foul.
Leah Caywood replaced Sarah Caywood.
The older sister took out her frustration on a defenseless water bottle.
“Broke it in half,” Sarah recalled somewhat embarrassingly. “My sister never lets me forget that.”
The 2017 version of Sarah Caywood, the athlete, is as intense and passionate as the 2016 version.
The one big difference?
“I’m no longer struggling to keep my composure,” said Caywood, whose older sister, Hannah (New Trier, Class of 2013), starred as a goalie on NT polo teams. “I’m more focused now, more under control. I’m very happy with where I am now when it comes to competing in games. I’ve also learned, since last year, the importance of interacting with my teammates and keeping the team whole.
“With five sophomores on varsity, it’s up to me and our other seniors to make sure they’re properly prepared for games.”
Guess who read all 326 pages (approximately 81,500 words) of William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury?
The steadfast and the calm Sarah Caywood did.
“It’s a book that doesn’t spell things out for you,” said Caywood, who plans to play club water polo and major in English at the University of Michigan — Hannah’s alma mater. “You have to pay attention to the text; I love that kind of challenge, and I knew — after reading the first three pages — it would be a challenging book. Reading that book was like putting together pieces of a puzzle. It really opened my eyes to a lot of things.
“It also pulled my mind.”
That mind has been one of her many assets for Wendt’s club this spring.
“She’s been mentally strong for us in times of adversity,” Wendt said. “You want that kind of response from your players, especially your leaders; it’s something I always bring up and stress in front of all of my players. I’ve been impressed with how Sarah has been handling everything, with how she’s staying out of foul trouble, with how she’s taking charge around her teammates.”
Notable: New Trier junior Megan Frentzel scored a team-high three goals in the Trevians’ 7-5 defeat of Evanston in a sectional final at Glenbrook North on May 13. Senior teammate Kami Grochowski’s goal broke a 2-2 tie with 3:08 remaining in the second quarter. The winning goalkeeper was NT Elizabeth McKenna, who didn’t allow a goal in the final 8:08 of the game. Frentzel scored the only goal of the fourth quarter, after receiving a quick feed from senior Sarah Caywood with 4:20 left; Caywood had drawn a kick-out of a Wildkit defender moments before Frentzel’s power-play tally gave the Trevians a two-goal cushion. … Former NT water polo goalie Hannah Caywood, a recent University of Michigan graduate, works as a business consultant in Chicago, according to one of her younger sisters, Sarah, who helped NT’s girls water polo program capture three Elite Eight state berths (2015-17). Hannah was NT’s starting goalie as a junior in 2012, when the Trevians placed fourth at the state tournament.