The Raquel sisters have been key contributors for Naperville North girl’s water polo for over a half-decade. Both were members of state championship teams, with Grace as the senior goalie for the 2021 undefeated championship season, with Sophie chipping in as a sophomore. Sophie then helped the Dogs repeat as champs in 2022 as a junior. After an All-State performance in 2023, Sophie takes her talents to Cal Lutheran while Grace enters her junior year for St. Francis University in Pennsylvania water polo. However, this past summer, both stayed involved with the sport in more ways than one. This Feature Story is sponsored by Edward-Elmhurst Health.
From the pool to the broadcast booth
For the second consecutive summer Sophie competed in the USA water polo Junior Olympics while Grace worked as a commentator for the games. This year, Sophie joined her older sister behind the mic, with the former Huskies even announcing games together.
“It was a lot of fun just being able to experience it together after playing together and just having one of those memories,” said Cal Lutheran water polo player Sophie Raquel.
“We switch back and forth, and we have some fun with each other and be like, hey you missed this or good color commentary explanation. We built off each other as the day progressed because they were long days,” said St. Francis University junior Grace Raquel.
Grace has been able to call many of Sophie’s games the past two summers, including one where Sophie nailed a goalie shot to beat the buzzer in 2022, which helped the team eventually win gold in session three of the U-17 Junior Olympics. While rocking the headset, Grace had to keep her emotions in check when commentating on games in which Sophie was competing.
“I tried to stay as unbiased as possible, so in the championship game, I did on purpose, though mispronounced her name as many times as I could. So I called her Sophia, Sofa, Raquel, and Racquetball. The whole time, I never told the audience who I was until the very end when they won I said “Thank you so much for joining us this Grace Raquel I’m so proud of my sister Sophie Raquel for winning this championship,” said Grace.
Unbiased or not, it was a good experience for the two, who learned a lot during the experience about announcing and even the different styles of water polo.
“They play a lot more aggressively and when I’m watching the game, I’m expecting the refs to make a certain call and then they don’t, but that’s how they play in California. They’re grabbier and more aggressive with it, but they’re smart and know what they’re doing,” said Sophie.
Sisters competing at the next level
Sophie stayed in the pool throughout the summer as she was one of fourteen polo players invited to compete in an All-Star training trip in Croatia in early August. Staying involved with water polo, whether it’s for club, junior Olympics or the international level is an excellent opportunity for Sophie as she gets ready to face the next level of competition.
“It was a nice experience and just being able to play with people I don’t normally play and I was trained and coached by Olympians, high-level athletes from all over the world, and being able to get that international insight as it’s a lot different here in the states than it is in Europe so learning the different viewpoints of the game,” said Sophie.
While their broadcasting aspirations are on hold for now after a successful summer, both girls are heading back to school and back in the pool, ready to make a big splash on the collegiate level. Now, the focus becomes adding more hardware to the expansive Raquel family trophy case.
For more prep sports highlights, visit the Naperville Sports Weekly page!