Shadow Hills High School senior Kassidy Jackman began swimming as a toddler, under the watchful eye of her sister-turned-instructor Krystle. At 8, after mastering flip turns and her freestyle stroke, she joined the Piranhas and Desert Aquatics club programs. Soon after, it was high school water polo, following in the footsteps of both Krystle and brother, Trevor, who played for La Quinta High School.
Jackman, who also sings and play guitar, watched a lot of polo growing up and soon jumped in. She is the Knights’ captain and after playing a year at La Quinta, she transferred to become part of a program that has a new coach and a new life. Shadow Hills is the only DeAnza League team to participate in water polo with a full schedule and this year has been granted a chance to compete in CIF as a freelance team.
The Desert Sun talked to the honors student who is also the president of her church youth group about her love of all things aquatics.
It must be tough not really having a set schedule and league to play in? Has that been difficult to prepare for?
“My team has been like a family. Over the last few years while playing at Shadow Hills we have had a lot of fun playing but our goal is to win even though we haven’t had a set league.
How do you keep the team motivated as captain having to deal with that?
A positive attitude is the thing I try to project to my team. Even though we don’t have De Anza competitors, our goal is to win and show the desert that Shadow Hills High School can compete and deserves a chance to be taken seriously.
Has it been overwhelming to be in on the ground floor in building a new program?
“When I came to Shadow Hills, I realized that I was going to be a part of the building years. I was excited to have coach (Tim) McElrath as my coach because he had coached both of my siblings over the years and I really respected him. I was also excited to meet new players on both the girls’ and boys’ teams.”
What changed, if anything, when you got a new coach at the start of this season?
“We have been fortunate to have coaches that are both dedicated to the sport and have great experience that they can share with our team. One thing that has changed having coach Alicia (Conwell) is she is a girl and that helps her relate in ways that some guys can’t. She is also very positive with our team. She has been encouraging us to continue to play at the college level and sets up opportunities for us to learn more about that.”
That appointment came really late, so what have you specifically learned from coach Conwell in a short period?
“One word to describe coach Alicia is positive. For example, I was down on myself because I kept on missing some shots. Coach Alicia took it as she was just glad I was taking the shots because that is important.”
When you heard that Shadow Hills had been accepted into CIF as a freelance team, did that provide motivation to qualify for the playoffs?
“Yes, it was the first time we have had a long range goal to work towards. Everyone was excited, even our parents.”
The Knights have a small roster, so how’s that been so far as you look toward a possible playoff spot?
“We have four seniors, two juniors, one sophomore and one freshman. It makes it tough because we only have one sub, but at the same time it has helped us be more in shape because all of us play for the whole game. We are like a family and even fight like siblings but we also are very united and always have each others backs. And we are improving.”
What are your plans after polo and swim?
“I would like to be a dental hygienist. I am considering going to college either at Dixie State University in St. George, Utah or University of Hawaii where they both have a good dental hygiene program. I am keeping my options open for water polo. I love the sport and will always appreciate the great coaches I have had and the many friends I have made over the years.
“This summer I will be working with a humanitarian organization called H.E.F.Y. (Humanitarian Experience for Youth) where we will be going to another country and helping build classrooms for children.”