Outdoor Adventure Center offers kayak polo

Senior Christian Walk getting ready to pass the ball to teammate Sophomore Alex Maxwell. The Outdoor Adventure Center hosts Kayak Polo every Thursday from 6:30-8:00 p.m. in the Flowers Hall pool.

For the students saying, “It’s too cold to enjoy outdoor activities,” the Outdoor Adventure Center has plenty of options to bypass that excuse.

The OAC hosts kayak polo Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. in the Flowers Hall pool. The game is just like water polo, but instead of treading water, the players navigate in the water using kayaks.

“We bring our boats inside so we can have something to do all year-round,” said OAC coordinator McKenzie Martin. “It’s something fun to play in the winter for everybody. You can stay active in the winter when normally you’re probably not. It’s super unique.”

The OAC started offering kayak polo in 2012 and participation is steadily rising, Martin said.

“I got the idea in my masters program at Ole Miss and decided to bring it here,” she said. “It’s been a popular thing so far. We have new people come out all the time.”

The game features a five-on-five contest with two 15-minute halves. All players must wear a life jacket and, because of the lack of space in the pool, they do not use paddles while playing, Martin said.

She said the OAC provides all the equipment and the players just need to bring their swimsuit.

“You are guaranteed to get wet while playing even if you never flip,” she said. “Water is constantly splashing.”

Beginners should not fret as senior Christian Walker said it is an easy sport to learn.

“It’s like playing any board game. You look at the rules and then you know how to do it,” he said. “It’s a sport most people have never played before but learn to love. It’s the most fun thing you can pick up.”

Senior Sarah Beth Simpson said people who have never even kayaked before should have no issues playing the sport.

“There’s not too much to it,” she said. “You’re pretty much just sitting in a boat.”

Walker said people who enjoy ultimate Frisbee would also like kayak polo.

“It’s ultimate Frisbee in the pool,” he said. “It’s about short passing and getting in good positions in the water. You can take the ball from the opponent too.”

Martin said kayak polo is a combination of many sports.

“It’s ultimate Frisbee, wresting, football and water polo,” Martin said. “That’s what makes it so fun. You’ll learn to enjoy it quickly.”

Senior David Atkins said the lack of knowledge of the game should not be an excuse for not playing.

“We have newcomers come in and play really well in their first game,” he said. “This new girl came in tonight and was scoring all her teams’ goals.”

Martin said she wants to make kayak polo a club sport at UNA.

“It’ll be great if we could travel around and play other schools,” she said. “It’s a real thing too. I know a couple of schools that already have club teams.”