CLU Water Polo Team Inspires Youth and Adults to go to College

 Catherine Loomis, a teacher at Whittier Ceres Elementary School and mother of California Lutheran University water polo player Nick Loomis, wanted to encourage her students, many of whom come from low-income families with parents who didn’t attend college, to go to college. She wrote to Cal Lutheran’s water polo coach last school year and asked if any of his players could serve as mentors to her students. The Kingsmen water polo players quickly became role models for the kindergartners. 

The water polo players visit the class regularly and read to them, assist with classroom centers, help them write in their journals and play with them. A father of one of the players donated Kingsmen water polo T-shirts to the kindergartners, and they started wearing them proudly every college Tuesday. The kindergartners studied the roster and picked mentors who had similar interests and likes to theirs. They paired up and starting writing letters and cards back and forth. Fifteen of the kindergartners and their parents attended a Kingsmen game at Whittier College and later came to watch several of the players compete in a swim and dive meet there. Several of the families have visited the Cal Lutheran campus, going to lunch and touring campus with the players. The water polo players made a video for the kindergartners about how to pursue their goals. The team mom made bracelets for the kindergartners with the Cal Lutheran colors. The relationship hasn’t just inspired the kindergartners to go to college. The impact has gone beyond the kindergartners, with many of their parents asking about going to college themselves. One actually applied! The relationship has continued this year with Catherine’s new class of kindergartners.

The effort has also gone beyond the water polo players here. CLU’s office for University Relations has also gotten into the act, exchanging care packages with the students at holidays. Nick said the effort is a part of a bigger movement called No Excuses.