Saline senior Cassie Anderson has always believed in hard work and dedication. Now she’s seeing her own hard work pay off.
Last week Anderson, the daughter of Saline graduates Steve and Lisa Anderson, signed a letter of intent to play water polo at the Virginia Military Institute. Anderson, a varsity water polo player for the Hornets since her freshman year, emerged as a star on the Michigan water polo scene last year.
In the regional championship game at Saline Anderson scored on a “Hail Mary” shot to send the game to a third overtime period. In sudden death, she scored the game-winning goal – her eighth goal of the game – as Saline won 12-11.
Anderson said it’s gratifying to have the opportunity to continue her water polo-playing days in college.
“It's really exciting. It's one of the goals I've had since I was really young. It shows how much hard work can pay off. When you're good at one thing, keep practicing, keep trying, no matter what,” Anderson said.
She had been courted by the Virginia Military Institute and the University of Toronto. She chose VMI – for its water polo program and for its military academy.
“When I went to go visit I really liked the team, I really liked the coach and how they ran things and the tournaments they were in,” Anderson said.
She’s also been interested in a military career since middle school.
“My grandfather was in the Navy so I felt like it was something I could definitely do. I want to join Air Force ROTC,” Anderson said.
She applied for the program but hasn't received an answer yet.
Anderson said former coach Katie Neidermire helped her develop into the kind of player that gets the attention of college coaches. Neidermire, who moved back to California after last season, had coached Anderson since she began playing the sport in sixth grade. Even today, Neidermire provides valuable assistance to Anderson.
“"She's been supportive of me through he whole process. Even though she's not in Michigan anymore I still text her questions, asking about the upcoming season and how I can improve," Anderson said.
VMI’s coaching staff became interested in Anderson during her sophomore year, when a coach watched her make a full-court shot. Anderson was asked to describe her own game.
“"When you play polo you have to be a smart player. And, hopefully, I think I am," Anderson said, smiling. "Also, polo is a very physical game. You have to be very physical. You can't hesitate when you make decisions."
She had to be asked about her rocket for a shot.
“I have a very strong shot. The type of shot I'm best at is a skip shot, where it bounces off the water. It gives a split second where the goalie doesn't really know how to react,” Anderson said.
She scored on several of those skip shots while scoring eight goals in the regional final against Okemos.
The Hornets graduated many key players from last year’s team, including Maddy Murpry, Daria Fitch and Lisa Gross. But Anderson has high hopes for this year’s squad.
“This season, we want to win states. I think we have a really good chance to. And states are in Saline, so we really want to participate it in,” Anderson said.