Favorite athlete: Derrick Rose
Favorite team: Philadelphia 76ers
Favorite memory competing in sports: When Upper Dublin upset Germantown Academy
Funniest thing that has happened while competing in sport: My teammate successfully pulled off an underwater flip right into a shot and he scored. This was on his senior night.
Music on playlist: Led Zeppelin for pregame Grateful Dead for postgame
Future plans: Go to college and play water polo in some form
Words to live by: "Not all those who wander are lost." &"You've got to want it."
One goal before turning 30: Travel to Europe and watch a Euro league water polo game live, preferably Pro Recco
One thing people don’t know about me: I compete in competitive yoyo contests
By Craig Ostroff
Following two school years impacted by COVID-19—two years made up of remote learning, with sports seasons and social activities limited or cancelled completely—Luke Price and his classmates were looking forward to some semblance of a normal school year when they reported to Upper Dublin High School for the first day of their senior year.
And for one day, they had that normalcy.
That evening, the remnants of Hurricane Ida tore through the area, causing widespread damage and disaster. After making sure that friends and family in the area were safe, a realization came upon Price and his fellow Upper Dublin water polo team members – severe damage to the roof of the natatorium would mean that there would be no “normal” water polo season. Instead, much like during the lockdown, the team would be playing its home games in visitor pools and would be practicing at local swim clubs and neighboring school pools.
For Cardinal water polo coach Chris Ianni, if there’s one guy who would be the ideal student-athlete to keep the team positive and focused in the face of such adversity, Price is the perfect leader at the right time.
“When that storm hit, it was devastating,” said Ianni. “Obviously, a lot of people got it a lot worse than we did, but looking at what the storm did from a team aspect, it took all the wind out of our sails. Luke has been eyeing up his senior year the past three years, everybody on the team was all-in. We’d had an incredible spring season, doing things well in practices and games all throughout the spring, continued into the summer. We looked good in offseason workouts in the summer, games in the summer through North Penn’s league.
“Luke is the heart and soul of this team. He’s a huge leader for us both in and out of the pool and he knows how to communicate well with everyone. Everyone likes him and respects him. That’s the kind of guy you want as a leader in a situation like that.”
For Price—one of three captains on this year’s team—the past two years have helped him and his schoolmates prepare for just about anything. And it was actually a quote from his coach that he called upon as a guide in the tumultuous first month of the school year.
“Ianni says, ‘adversity breeds greatness,’” Price said. “So I think about that. And I just try to be optimistic. Of course, no one wants something like this to happen and it’s horrible to see, but for us, we had done remote learning during COVID, so we were able to just get right back to that until they open the school back up. And as much as we all like the Upper Dublin pool, there are other places to practice and play.”
As has been a regular occurrence for many Cardinal athletic squads during the fall season, Price and his teammates were blown away by the kindness of others willing to help out.
“We went back to Oreland where we practiced last year during COVID,” Price said. “But we also had other teams open their pools to us, Wissahickon and Springfield offered to let us use theirs, which was really kind of them. Danny Crump on Wissahickon sent me a text the day after the storm to ask if everyone on the team was all right, and that if we needed any help clearing debris, he was there for us, their whole team was. It was really nice to see that.”
Still, keeping the Cardinal team focused and positive in light of such overwhelming challenges is a critical additional task for Price and his fellow leaders. Surprisingly, it hasn’t been as difficult as one may think.
“Overall, I think the guys on the team have been pretty damn impressive,” Price said. “We do have some kids who are displaced from the storm, and we help them out all we can. But I think everyone is looking at practice and games as a way to escape everything else that’s going on for a while. Everyone is still working hard and working toward our goals.”
Few work as hard as Price, who prides himself on being a student of the game and a teacher to his teammates. That’s also important, as the Cards boast their largest team ever with 32 players, including seven freshmen.
“Luke is a strong motivator, he leads by example,” Ianni said. “He’ll work with everyone, he wants everyone to be involved. We have a bunch of freshmen who are still learning the game, and he spends time with them, helps them learn what’s expected of them. He raises the bar to the next level for everyone else.”
Always looking to better his game, Price enjoys searching out game videos and highlights from high-level water polo matches. He looks to adapt what he can to his game, but he’s also quick to share his findings with teammates as well. And this summer, high-level water polo was easy to find during the Olympic Games.
“I got really excited for the Olympics, water polo at that level is really fun to watch,” Price said. “I try to get younger players to watch highlight videos I find. Seeing players at that level is a huge motivation. That’s why I love playing really, really good teams like North Penn or Wilson. It’s unbelievable how good they are. If you don’t challenge yourself with better teams and going against better players, you’re not going to get better.”
And Price has worked hard. A Second-Team All-State selection last year, Price can play anywhere in the pool that he’s needed. He leads the team in goals, assists, and kickouts drawn, despite primarily being a defensive specialist in one of the most demanding spots in the pool.
“Luke’s favorite position is actually the defensive hole position,” Ianni said. “He’s the backbone of our defense. He prefers the 2-meter defense, which is one of the toughest positions in the game. It’s defending the center/right in front of the goal, and that usually means you’re up against the opponent’s most skilled player. We rely on Luke to take away the opponent's biggest threat, which won't necessarily show up on the stat sheet.
“He’s a strong two-way player. He has great vision to create plays, and he often puts himself in a favorable position to score. He’ll step up for us on offense when we need him. His stamina is top notch—it’s incredibly difficult to be 2-meter defense and 2-meter offense, but he’ll do it all. I can put him in with newer players and he’ll pass the ball around and make sure they’re doing the right thing. He plays with a positive mindset, respects the game, respects his teammates, shows integrity and gratitude. He respects his opponents, too. I always see him high-five opponents at the end of a game.”
It’s been a long road for Price, whose older brother was a member of the Cardinals’ inaugural water polo team. As such, Price was introduced to the game at an early age and began playing for school and club teams in middle school. While still in eighth grade, he had the opportunity to jump into a couple of spring tournament games with the high schoolers, stoking his love of playing against opponents who would force him to improve his game.
It also provided him with the opportunity to fall in love with the sheer tumult that can erupt at any time during a fiercely contested water polo game.
“Polo is just a transcendent sport to me,” he said. “There’s a lot of chaos, even in high school. No matter how good the teams are, there are moments where there’s just water everywhere, no one knows what’s going on, and everyone is trying to get to the ball. It’s fun to pick my head up, kick my legs, get out of the water, and try to see everything. You try to control that chaos and slip in a goal. That’s why I like point on offense. You can see everyone around you.”
Price’s efforts are showing on a team that is improving with every game. Price sees a league loaded with parity this year, a league where any team can beat any other team if they put in the effort and execute their game plan. That scramble for the postseason berth can become chaos as well, and just as he does in the pool, Price is hoping the Cardinals can control that chaos and work their way into the state tournament. That would be the ideal ending to his high school water polo career.
“I just want us to get to States, and then whatever happens, happens,” he said. “I think the State Tournament is at North Penn this year. I just want to get to that pool. I want to get to North Penn and play in States.”
But the end of the water polo season won’t mean the end of the school year, and Price has plenty to keep him busy. With students expected to be able to return to the high school by the beginning of October, Price and his classmates are looking to finally settle back into a “normal” routine.
In addition to a heavy workload—most notably AP Physics—Price is the Information and Communications Chair of the Steering Committee and also serves as Class President. He’s focused on helping to make this year’s prom the best it can be, and will also be involved in planning and fundraising for events such as the Senior Class Disney Trip, Coronation Ball, and Spirit Day. On a whim, he also joined the Robotics Club after being convinced by a friend.
Price is looking to pursue a degree in engineering, though he’s unsure of exactly where he’ll spend the next four years. He expects to play club water polo in college, since there’s simply no chance he’ll abandon the game he has dedicated so much time to over the last seven years.
And when he takes the next step on his educational journey, the Cardinals will look to take their first steps without him. His presence will be missed, but his legacy should leave the Cardinals in good shape for the foreseeable future.
“Luke has been so good working with the new players and the underclassmen,” Ianni said. “The newcomers listen to him all the time and take in everything he tells them. They will listen to every word he says. This might be the best freshman class we’ve had and it’s because of leaders like Luke. I’m excited to see what they can do, and it’s because they’re listening and watching and learning from the senior class. And a lot of that is Luke. That’s the atmosphere he’s giving off, it’s exciting. He’s instilling that work ethic and mindset, and making sure you can work hard and still have fun. The younger kids are seeing that and learning it and they’re going to take it with them into the next couple years.”
All SuburbanOneSports.com articles (or portion of articles) can be turned into keepsakes. For information, please click on the following link:https://www.suburbanonesports.com/article/content/turn-online-features-keepsake-posters-0086874