Maar follows in family footsteps
By Ian Ross
Karol Maar is a sharp shooter with the Ontario University Athletics water polo title in his sights.
A third-year administrative and commercial studies student at Western, Maar has been firing bullets at opposing netminders this season and his precision has paid off. In total, the London native has 31 goals on the season.
Not surprising, with the numbers come the rewards. Maar is the only two-time Western athlete of the week for the 1998 season, in addition to being honoured Monday with the OUA male athlete of the week.
Maar attributes a great deal of his success to his father, who first introduced him to water polo at the age of 10. Karol Maar Sr. had retired from the pool to coach the sport when his son began, but had previously played for both the Czechoslovakian and Canadian national teams. This left the handing of the torch from father to son as a natural transition in the Maar household.
"I liked the sport right away," Maar reflected. "I suppose when you are little you want to be just like your dad."
After excelling in the sport during his teenage years, Maar played in the 1996 junior Pan-American games in Cuba as a junior national team member. Although tempted to move forward to the senior ranks which he had the option of doing Maar decided moving to the national training facilities in Calgary was out of the question.
"I just didn't want to leave everything behind," he said, with no sign regret in his voice.
Instead, he decided to remain at home and attend Western. In his first season he joined a varsity squad which had only one veteran player, Brandon Lawrence. Maar's talent shined and he was named to the OUA all-star team as a reflection of his impact on the league.
Fast forward two years and both Maar and the team have matured and developed.
"I think the others look up to me a little more," Maar said. "I don't say much but when I do they tend to listen."
Head coach Chuck Smith has been very pleased with the offensive performance of Maar but was quick to point out he is by no means a one-dimensional player.
"No matter who the other team is we can cover anyone with Karol," Smith said, on Maar's dominant defensive skills.
"His number of goals this season is even more impressive when you consider he is usually covering the other team's best player," Smith later added.
As mentioned, not only has Maar matured, but the entire team has witnessed great strides. In nine games on the season, Western sits tied with McMaster for the lead in the division.
The hope of both Maar and Smith is that Western will finally break a long-standing futility mark and for the first time have the school's name engraved on the Hershorn Trophy as provincial champions.