From homework to water polo, new world

On High Schools

High Schools

November 01, 2005|By MILTON KENT

Not long into his time here, Calvert Hall water polo player Filip Kisdobranski made a statement that cut his coach, Donald Anderson, to the bone.

Kisdobranski, an exchange student this year from Serbia, told Anderson he didn't believe the teachers at Calvert Hall really cared about him.

That factoid came as a surprise to Anderson, since he had not only attended the school himself, but also had put one son through the school and has another son presently at the school - and on the water polo team, no less.

"And if there's one thing about the teachers here, it's that they'll do anything for you. That's the key to the school," Anderson said.

A little deeper into the conversation, the truth was revealed: It seems Kisdobranski hadn't done his homework the night after a match because he was tired. Apparently, in Kisdobranski's homeland, telling a teacher you're unable to do your schoolwork because of water polo is enough to get you off the hook, but teachers at Calvert Hall are a bit more demanding.

"The teacher here said he didn't care if he had a game or not," said Anderson with a chuckle. "I guess that made Filip think that the teachers didn't care."

That's just one of the adjustments Kisdobranski is making as he spends the equivalent of his senior year living with Anderson and his family.

Living in the Baltimore area, where cars are so vital to daily existence, has been a bit of a shock to Kisdobranski, who is from Novi Sad, a city where all the important things are close at hand, as is suitable public transportation.

And life on the Calvert Hall campus has been far more demanding than Kisdobranski expected. Earlier in the season, the water polo team was practicing twice a day, once before school and then after school.

"There are so many obligations around the school. I'm just not used to it," he said. "I basically don't have as much free time. At the beginning, I was getting a little bit anxious. I couldn't sleep as much as I was used to, so I was getting nervous. But I'm fine now."

Perhaps the biggest adjustment the Serb has had to make involved the school's dress code, which requires students to wear a coat and tie each day to classes.

"It was awful that first two weeks," Kisdobranski said. "I never wore a shirt or a tie. When I came here, they told me that I had to find some shirts and ties. I was like, `What?' I never wore that in my life. You know, I spend my life wearing a T-shirt or something. But I'm getting used to it, especially now that's it's getting cooler."

In the water, the 6-foot-2, 210-pound athlete has made an adjustment to the faster-paced, less-muscular brand of water polo played in the United States.

"The game we play in Serbia is a lot more physical," he said. "It involves, I would say, stronger people. Here, it's more being able to swim fast. It's not that much about being strong and powerful. The referees call stuff different. That's the big adjustment."

Still, Kisdobranski ended up as Calvert Hall's leading scorer this year, scoring four goals in the Cardinals' 10-5 win over Loyola in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship, its fifth straight.

His skills will be on display again this weekend when Calvert Hall travels to Lawrenceville, N.J., for the Eastern Prep School championships.

"It's a different style of play and it's been tough on both of us," said Anderson with a laugh. "They [Europeans] play a very slow, deliberate offense. They like to bring the ball down slowly, set up and do what we call frontcourt offense.

"In the U.S., we're counterattackers, which is a fast break. It's a very similar game to basketball, in reality. There are a lot of the same terms. We spend a lot of time swimming and they don't like swimming."

For Kisdobranski, things eventually smoothed out in and out of the pool, and he has become enamored of the school and the area - so much so, that he plans to attend college in the United States after he goes home in the summer.

"I'm really enjoying it here," he said. "It's a big challenge living in a foreign country where there's a different culture and different language, especially in a country like the United States. You have the biggest opportunity and there's no limit to where you can go.

"It's a great thing. I don't know if it's just the state of Maryland or the entire country, but people are really nice."

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