Blitzer Leaves Strong Legacy

Photo courtesy of Trewin Copplestone ’17

Ms. Blitzer coaches the girls’ varsity water polo team during a tense season opener. The girls went on to triumph over Williston Northampton, securing a 16-8 win for Choate.

Since her arrival at Choate in 2010, Ms. Meg Blitzer has been a beloved biology and environmental science teacher, as well as an well-respected water polo coach. To the dismay of students and faculty alike, this highly valued campus member will depart from Choate after the end of this school year.

Blitz, as most call her, grew up in New Hampshire and started competitive swimming at the age of four. She began her water polo career at Phillips Academy, then continued playing at Bucknell University. Once she earned her Master’s in environmental science from the University of Sydney,  her next stop was Choate. Here, she was able to pursue both of her passions: teaching science and coaching water polo.

Blitz was the assistant coach for the boys’ team during her first three years at Choate, before becoming Head Coach. One of her most impactful experiences with the team occurred during the 2012 New England Championships. Blitz said, “The boys were losing pretty badly at that point, and Mr. Todd Currie, the head coach at the time, told them that they had put their hearts and souls not only into this game, but into the season. He asked the boys how they would like to finish the game.” The team ended up losing, but was eager to kick off the next season with the same incredible and competitive group. Blitz recalled Henry McMillan ’13, a three-year starter and captain, saying, “This is the most fun I’ve ever had losing a championship game.” Blitz said, “Although it would have been nice to have won, I loved seeing the camaraderie and love amongst the team.”

She was very nervous to take over the team from her mentor, Mr. Currie. However, the boys’ team was incredibly welcoming.

One of her favorite memories as Head Coach occurred this previous fall. The team needed to win  against Brunswick or Suffield — the number one and number two seeds in the league — in order to qualify for their post season. Blitz commented, “It was do or die. Either we win and get to keep playing or we lose and our season is over.” They ended up winning in overtime against Suffield. Blitz explained, “They played out of their minds. It was awesome to watch them. There is a photo that shows them after their win with pure joy that I’ve been meaning to frame.”

Coaching the girls’ team hits very close to home for Blitz, who began playing water polo in the New England Prep School League.

Out of her five years serving as Girls’ Head Coach, one of her favorite memories is from her third year, when the first group of girls she started coaching became juniors and core starters.   

The girls had finally qualified for the New England Championships. They were the fourth seed out of four teams, and they upset the number one seed in the last 20 seconds of the semi-final game. They ended up losing to Andover in the final, which crushed their expectations. However, that loss fueled their incredible 2015 season. In Blitz’s fourth year coaching the girls, the team only lost two games, both to Suffield, and ended up becoming New England Champions. Blitz said, “The group really came together. It was an incredible moment to watch their hard work pay off and to see them hit their stride.”

Blitz’s all-time favorite water polo experience was coaching Sophie Benson ’14.  Blitz said, “Sophie had started playing her sophomore year with very little experience. During her very first game, immediately after getting in the pool, she was in tears. They stopped the game to check on her and discovered that she was crying because the other team was trying to drown her. That moment was the beginning of her prosperous water polo career. She ended up earning a starting position and was elected captain by her teammates. She was a part of the team that built up to become New England Champions.”

Blitz feels that this story exemplifies the spirit of New England prep school water polo. She loves that, unlike many other sports, most players begin with little to no experience, yet they are able to make it to the varsity level or even earn a starting position.

At Choate, everyone practices together, regardless of skill level. Blitz said, “It is really cool that helping less-experienced teammates is not seen as a waste of time, but instead as investing in Choate’s program.” Josh Gilligan ’17 said, “We all feed off of Blitz’s energy. When she picks up the intensity, we play hard, and when she goofs off, we have fun, too. Her attitude on deck really sets the tone for the game or practice.”

Starting next year, Blitz will be teaching environmental science and biology at Georgetown Day School in Washington D.C. They do not have a water polo team, but D.C. has many master teams that she hopes to join in the future. One thing is for certain: Choate’s campus will not be the same without the infectious, passionate presence of Ms. Meg Blitzer.

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