Westminster Academy senior Caroline Israels has accomplished more in her high school career than most athletes do in their whole lives. A four-sport star, Israels will have earned a whopping 24 varsity letters by the time she graduates.
Israels is one of the most recognized athletes in Broward County history. Competing in high school and club swimming, volleyball, soccer and water polo, Israels has won a number of awards for her efforts on the court and field and in the pool.
“I’ve been doing double and triple practices forever,” she said. “It’s always nice to have the different variety instead of just one sport. You kind of get sick of one sport and by the time you get to college, you don’t want to play that sport anymore.”
Although a force in all her sports, Israels has gained the most attention for her water polo talent. The senior, who is among the highest scorers in state history, has been a three-time Miami Herald Broward County water polo Player of the Year winner. She was also named The Miami Herald’s Female Athlete of the Year in 2012.
Because of her significant high school statistics and her national exposure through her club team Riptides, Israels received a scholarship to play college polo for nationally renowned San Diego State University.
Israels, whose been playing on the school’s varsity squad since sixth grade, scored an astonishing 203 goals, which helped her team reach the state final four last season.
For all her accolades, Israels insists competing is the most important part for her.
Being eliminated in the state semifinals was bittersweet for Israels and her team. It was the first time since 2006 the girls’ squad advanced so far in the postseason, but the defeat left the team hungry for more.
In an effort to be better prepared for the playoffs, a number of the team’s players began practicing polo with a club. Israels hopes the extra practice will better serve the team in the “big game.”
“We have six club players,” she said. “We at least want to get back to the top four. I want everyone to incorporate something into the game.”
After a bitter defeat in last year’s state final, St. Thomas seems poised to make another run at a championship.
The Raiders return all their players, including three seniors to their starting rotation.
“It’s all going to come down to the [state] semifinals and finals,” Aquinas coach Mike Goldenberg said. “I feel pretty confident.”
Although preferring to shy away from singling out individual players, Goldenberg instead insisted his team’s success will come from their ability to play together.
“I don’t want to separate anyone. We have a solid group of seven starters,” he said. “I think they all should be acknowledged.”
The Raiders boast four Miami Herald first-team selections, including goalie Michael Walk, senior R.J. Moore and sophomore Eric Goldenberg, son of the Raiders’ coach.
The younger Goldenberg, who was also selected as The Miami Herald’s Male Player of the Year, had 85 goals and 37 assists last season.
Aquinas will have some tough competition once the playoffs start. There are several boys’ teams from around the state that also have legitimate shots at winning a state title. The older Goldenberg understands the challenges his team will face and is constantly pushing his players to stay focused. Last season, Aquinas came within a quarter of winning the school’s first boys’ title, but a late lapse allowed Gulliver Prep to win by two goals.
“It’s great to get into the finals, but unfortunately we lost,” he said. “It’s experience you cannot buy.”