By Connor Larson and Taylor Leonard

With such an eclectic range of sports programs at Palomar, some of them tend to slip through the gaps of the spotlight. IMPACT Magazine set out to showcase some of the hidden gems within the athletics department: water polo, women’s track and field, women’s volleyball, and men’s volleyball.

The Women’s water team practices on April 3. Photo by Hector Flores

Water Polo

Mandy Simon, head coach of the water polo team described the team as a “different generation” of athletes.

Last season was a difficult year for the water polo team as the athletes had a tough time getting to know one another.

“I think I had a team that was divided, and it pretty much showed in the way that we performed,” said Simon. “We came off of a three-time winning streak in conference and last year ended in fourth so I think that it says a lot about the team dynamic.”

Sophomore Kennedy Magnusson said, “I do think that we did good with the athletes that we had despite the challenges we faced.”

As for this upcoming season, Magnusson mentioned, “I’m just excited to have new things on the horizon, and I do really like all the returners that are coming back on the team.”

Her advice for incoming athletes, “Be really open to criticism because I think it’s really hard, and I think that sometimes other people let egos get in the way.”

Magnusson said the transition from high school to Palomar was smooth and she enjoys being a part of the team. “Coach Mandy was my coach in high school so the transition was pretty seamless for me because we did a lot of the same training in high school,” said Magnusson.

Mandy Simon, head coach, mentioned that she is hopeful for next season’s team with the athletes joining the program. “I’ve gotten the chance to know some of the girls that are coming in, and I can tell that they are hard-working, and want to be there so I think that is the best thing I could ask for in athletes,” said Simon.

Simon’s goal for the program is to make water polo a year-long sport rather than a seasonal sport.

Maggie Goble (6) hitting the ball while her teammate Kylana Madayag (13) watches behind. Photo courtesy of Hugh Cox.

Women’s Volleyball

Women’s volleyball is another sport offered at Palomar. The women’s volleyball team is split into two different seasons: indoor volleyball in the fall, and beach volleyball in the spring.

Karl Seiler has been the head coach of the women’s volleyball program at Palomar College since 1995. Seiler has spent the last few seasons since the pandemic focusing on rebuilding the program and “getting back to where we used to be.” Seiler said he believes his group of girls on the team is “the right group; we have the right people in place for next year to be our year.”

In 2023, the women’s indoor team finished with a 13-11 record, their second straight 13-win season. After five years of sub .500 seasons, the program appears to be on the right track to get back to where they used to be in years past.

Coach Seiler refers to the beach season as extra training for the indoor season, since most of the beach time players are also indoor players.

“Indoor won’t make your beach game better, but playing beach will make your indoor game better.” Indoor and beach volleyball are a “completely different game,” said Seiler.

Seiler said managing the game is completely different, he can only coach at certain times, leaving the players on their own to call timeouts and make adjustments over the course of the game.

The volleyball team had two first-team all-conference players, Sonsi Jarvis and Janell Spires, who will return to the team next season. 12 out of the 18 girls from last season were freshmen, and the majority of them will be returning for next season.

The goal will be to win a conference title.

#10 Ethan Davis serves the ball against San Diego Mesa college on March 20. Photo by Hector Flores

Men’s Volleyball

Despite not having a winning season over the last 11 years, the men’s volleyball team is comprised of dedicated student-athletes representing Palomar College.

Student Asher Palpallatoc, who transferred from The University of Saint Katherine, chose to play at Palomar because “Coach brought good energy. He made me want to continue playing volleyball in college.”

Palpallatoc described how this team plays the game of volleyball as “different…We bring a lot of energy and have a lot of fun, and we like to do our own thing.”

Despite the poor performance this season and in years past, the team keeps the vibes high and plays the game with a lot of passion.

Jack Vermaak, a player on the team, said, “Energy has been good all season despite our record and performance.”

Although the team hasn’t had much success in its history, the goal at the start of every season is to win and compete for a conference championship.

Jacob Rangel, a returning player next season, said that the goal for next season is to win more games; we are trying to go for the conference. It won’t be easy, but we gotta work.”

The team ended the 2024 season with a 4-14 record, not what the team or the coaches wanted or expected heading into the season.

“Energy.” That is the word that multiple players use to describe the team. Despite all the losses and poor performances as a team, the energy and morale is unmatched.

High fives, screaming, yelling with excitement, and jumping, this team doesn’t miss a beat when bringing the energy and giving everything they have while on the court.

Michelle Aguilar at El Camino College. Photo courtesy of Sonia Rodriguez.

Women’s Track and Field

Another program that Palomar offers is the spring women’s track and field team. Last year was a success for the track and field team as the athletes were determined to win and compete on the track.

Sonia Rodriguez, head coach, said, “We won second in conference and we were able to take an athlete to compete in state championships which, we’ve done pretty much every season that I’ve been here with the exception of the Covid years.”

During practices, the athletes have high energy and encourage each other to succeed as a team.

“At practices we do good at motivating each other and pushing on our hard workouts which I really like,” said freshman Michelle Aguilar.

Her advice for incoming athletes, “Do not be afraid of track and field. A lot of people think that track and field is just running and are really scared because I think we doubt our capabilities when it comes to running.”

As for this season, Sonia Rodriguez, head coach of the track and field team said, “It’s going well with the athletes that we do have despite the challenges that we have faced with having limited athletes.”

At meets, Rodriguez mentioned that the athletes are energetic and competitors on the track.

Rodriguez explained her goal for the program is to create a positive environment and do well at the state level.

While IMPACT talked to Rodriguez, she said the program would benefit from having a cross-country team and a facility on campus for athletes to continue training and students to see the team.

“Once we can get that cross-country program back for our women it would be amazing because they would have year-round training,” said Rodriguez.