After not being able to play for his Salem University Tigers’ water polo team last year, Bahamian national team member Saequan Miller was in the water at the 2019 U.S. Air Force’s Rare Air Men’s Water Polo Invitational September 7-8 in El Paso County, Colorado, USA.
The other four schools that participated in the invitational were the University of La Verne Leopards, the George Washington University Colonials, the University of Redlands Bulldogs and the U.S. Air Force Academy Falcons.
In the season opener on Saturday, the Tigers won 15-14 in a nail-biter against the Leopards out of California.
“With it being my first time playing with and against college teams, I felt pretty good. As a freshman, scoring five goals was exceptionally well in the eyes of not only my teammates but most importantly my coach. I was active in the water, my communication level was high, we executed every task that coach put on the board for us and we took advantage of every situation. It was a good game for us,” Miller said.
Miller, a former C.R Walker High School student, had a good game, contributing five goals. One of those goals broke a 13-13 tie between the teams, putting his Tigers up 14-13 in the fourth quarter.
The Leopards tied it up at 14 two minutes later. Manuel Estela, Miller’s teammate, scored the game winner with 54 seconds remaining.
The Tigers compete in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference (GMAC).
Miller is a Business Management player who is in his second year at Salem. According to him, he wasn’t allowed to play a season ago because he unknowingly broke a NCAA rule – “Delayed Enrollment”. However, he was allowed to train. Miller said the whole situation made him stronger.
The Tigers lost the next three games. They lost 14-4 against the Colonials and 20-11 to the Bulldogs. In their final game against the host, the U.S. Air Force Academy, they lost 20-4.
Miller said they traveled 21 hours by van to Colorado from West Virginia and played in an altitude above 7,000 feet, which made it tough for them to breathe in the pool. Despite those disadvantages, he felt his team did well.
“I felt my team and I did pretty well. We went out there and did not let our disadvantages become an opportunity for us not to do well. This whole weekend was not about winning but it was about building team chemistry with the new freshmen, having game awareness and learning from our mistakes. It was a weekend to get us ready for our conference and I felt we did just that. We jotted down what we needed to work on and now we are back practicing our mistakes that we made in the tournament,” Miller pointed out.
In this his first season, the water polo player of 11 years expects to grow with the team, build team chemistry and get his name out there – something Laszlo “Coach Lottie” Borbely, his coach here in The Bahamas, always told him to focus on. Academically, Miller wants to maintain a grade point average of 4.0.
The redshirt freshman said: “I do not see any reason for me to not maintain a 4.0 that I had last semester. With time management and balancing my academic and athletic life, I feel that I will do a pretty good job with that. I feel that nothing can stop me from continuing that.”
Last year, the Tigers finished the season with 11 wins and 14 losses. They fell to the McKendree University Bearcats, 13-12, in the NCAA DII GMAC Championship game. He feels that this year they will avenge that loss and win the championship.
Miller is no stranger to water polo in The Bahamas. He won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award in the under-19 division at the 2018 CARIFTA Water Polo Championships in Kingston, Jamaica. At CARIFTA, he captained the team to a gold medal with a 13-10 victory over the host country.
The forward said that he fell short in the offseason in terms of his preparation for this season.
“During the offseason, I kind of fell short of being physically ready. I spent most of my time as an assistant coach of the national water polo team. I was more on deck teaching instead of practicing. I felt like I didn’t do too well in physically preparing myself for the preseason. I did engage in the Sunshine State tournament, hooking up with a few Americans and playing in that tournament so that put me back on track. I felt that I could have done more to make myself ready for the preseason,” Miller said.
Following the Rare Air Invitational, Salem opened their GMAC competition on Monday against Monmouth College in Monmouth, Illinois. They won 20-13. Miller had four steals in that contest.
Salem is off until tomorrow when the Tigers start a three-day visit to Erie, Pennsylvania, to compete in the Mercyhurst Invitational. They open that campaign against Penn State-Behrend on Friday, then take on Gannon University and LaSalle University on Saturday. They will conclude play on Sunday against the University of Toronto.