Watching her bark commands from the key during a water polo match, one would never guess that a year ago senior Carly Strub was a lowly junior transfer – equivalent to any other incoming freshman on the team.
Now, Strub helps lead the women’s water polo team in her second – and final – season donning the maize and blue.
Having transferred from Hartwick College after the school’s president announced the disbandment of the varsity squad, Strub found a new home with the Wolverines following the winter of her sophomore year.
Strub is also the only women’s collegiate water polo player to play for two different teams in the NCAA Tournament.
But her first game as a Wolverine wasn’t her first time seeing Michigan in action. Michigan lost 5-2 to the Hawks in the 2004 Eastern Championships, ending their hope of reaching the NCAA Tournament for just the second time in program history.
Strub was – at the time- a member of Hartwick’s small-time squad.
” We found ourselves in a David and Goliath situation,” Strub said. “(Hartwick) had a lot to prove. We had to show that we were a great program.”
After the win, Hartwick’s president decided to keep the program. The Hawks maintained their varsity status, but Strub didn’t have much to go back to. The school released the players toward the end of the season, and all five sophomores transferred to schools across the nation.
After the transfer, Strub faced Hartwick as Wolverine on February 6, 2005 . Michigan defeated the Hawks 5-3 during the 2005 season.
“The first time playing (against Hartwick) was hard,” Strub said. “Everyone understood, and I think a lot of people would have done the same thing, which a lot of people did. But it was weird and awkward.”
In the game, Strub scored a goal against the Hawks defense.
As a Wolverine, Strub found her home at the top of the key. According to coach Matt Anderson, Strub’s role in her junior year relied heavily on her versatility, but as a senior her role became more defined as the point guard.
“Last year, I felt like (Strub) was what we needed to get to the NCAA Championship,” Anderson said.
In fact, Strub proved to be part of the missing element that Michigan needed to get to the tournament, ending the season 30-6 and sixth in the nation.
Even though it was awkward at times, Strub admitted she never regretted the transfer. Still, problems arose when she faced the challenge of transferring her classes. The credits she accumulated at Hartwick transferred as just 60 elective credits. Strub was forced to retake everything from Psych 111 to Stats 350 – where she met got to know her teammate Lindsey Hitchcock outside of the pool.
“She’s a very positive person,” Hitchcock said. “And I think that she looked at the stressful situation she was facing as a transfer and decided to see the good in it.”
As the one of the point guards for the 16th-ranked Wolverines, Strub said that although it’s only her second season at Michigan, she feels comfortable being a leader. Now, she’s on equal footing with the rest of the upperclassmen.