Marist College Women’s Water Polo Coach Chris Vidale has accepted the incredible task of taking over the water polo team after the tragic loss of water polo player Courtney Fisher.
“People ask if I wish I did not meet the team at Courtney Fisher’s funeral and my answer is always no. I have never seen a team with such a sense of community and care for one another, I knew right then and there that this team was special.”
Vidale replaces former head coach Natalie Benson, who resigned in June to take a position as the women’s water polo head coach at Fresno State. Vidale explains, “It is a huge responsibility taking over a team as electric as this one to begin with, but it is even more important coming in as the new head coach after this team has been through such a horrible loss this year.”
Senior Water Polo player Amanda Amorosa, was impressed from the moment she met Coach Vidale. “After learning that Coach Benson was leaving, we were all pretty upset because our coach to team dynamic was unstoppable. However after the grace and excitement that Coach Vidale has shown these past few weeks really gets me excited for the rest of the season.”
The Marist Water Polo team thrived under the control of former Olympic water polo medalist Coach Benson for many years; sadly Coach Benson knew it was time for a change. “I have enjoyed the amazing opportunity that Marist Athletics has given me and the bond that I created with my former athletes. It all came down to wanting to settle down and start my own program at Fresno State. That was something I could not pass up.”
Starting as the new head coach after the loss of Courtney Fisher wasn’t the only factor on Coach Vidale’s mind. Vidale was very aware of the close knit family that the players and Coach Benson had over these past years. “I want to have that great connection with the girls that Natalie had, I want to be their Coach of course, but friendship has to be in the mix in order to maintain their respect.”
It takes a certain responsibility as a coach to come into a new position, Coach Vidale is making sure that he does this right and it is clear that his athletes agree.
Sophomore Water Polo Player Ariana Singer expresses the lengths that Coach Vidale has gone to make sure that these athletes are comfortable and can have open communication with one another. “When Coach Vitale found out that Coach Benson would go to the cafeteria with us after or before practice. He immediately started coming with us. That just shows how much he is here for us.”
The Women’s Water Polo team has been working on their team dynamic without Coach Benson, training drills and focusing on the most important thing, bringing home a MAAC Championship for Marist College. This team has not won a championship in six years, however they have made it to the championship game the past three years. These athletes and Coach Vitale hope to come together to overcome that challenge and win that championship for Courtney.