Winning With Wimer

A two-time Water Polo state champion, Coach Wimer talks about successes while coaching at Stevenson


The pool at Fenwick High School echoed with the cheers that erupted from the Stevenson boys’ varsity water polo team on May 29 as they secured the Illinois State Championship. Their coach, Sean Wimer, was shoved into the pool by his ecstatic athletes as they all surrounded one another in the water, yelling celebratory chants. 

Wimer, who graduated from Stevenson in 2001, attended Loyola Marymount and graduated in May 2005. Soon after, he moved back home and began volunteering for the water polo team at Stevenson in 2006, but then was offered a job at Lakes High School as the head coach. However, he turned down the offer from Lakes and became the head coach at Stevenson.

Wimer is not unfamiliar with water polo himself—he played at both Stevenson and Loyola and is now coach of a team with two state titles, in both 2017 and 2021. Wimer had big dreams for the Stevenson team and was incredibly encouraging and devoted to bettering the program after he began coaching here.

You have all these emotions, feelings and thoughts that you’re going to build a powerhouse and take your team to the top,” Wimer said. “Well, we have, but it certainly did not go the way I had envisioned when I first took over.”

Wimer has faced many challenges during his time coaching at Stevenson, the 2020 season being a major example. Not only did it take place during the COVID-19 pandemic, but his team also lost their state quarterfinal the previous year which lowered their team’s spirits.. According to Wimer, the group of boys he had in 2020 was also the best team in the history of the program. This caused his athletes to feel extremely discouraged after a 5-to-6 defeat against Naperville Central High School, a last minute game winner sealing the loss for the Patriots. 

Many of his 2020 seniors told Wimer that they were over their last season as they wouldn’t get a chance to play in state, and that they would rather start working for college and finding jobs. Wimer said he was devastated as well, but that he viewed this setback as a motivator, as did his 2021 team. He and his athletes were determined to win their next state championship and come home with the trophy, and that is exactly what they did. 

Bhavin Patel, one of Wimer’s athletes from the 2021 state-winning team, was extremely proud of himself as well as his team for securing the first-place trophy. 

“All the stress and work that was put into the sport finally paid off,” Patel said. “It was something some of the boys wanted for years.”

Wimer applauds his athletes for pushing through to achieve the trophy at state, as well as working around the challenges of the pandemic. He is extremely proud of the way their 2021 season turned out.

“They dominated every facet of the game,” Wimer said. “So all the credit in the world goes to them. I was just hand holding.” 

Wimer was also determined to make the entirety of the water polo program better. He said that at first, many freshmen and sophomore athletes were not effectively taught the rules of the game, meaning their varsity team did not meet their true potential. Much of the coaching focus was put on the varsity team rather than the junior varsity (JV) team. 

However, Wimer took action and addressed this problem in 2017, a part of their state title that year.  completely took away the JV team, and shifted to just a frosh/soph and varsity team instead. This meant that juniors were not forced to work during their off-season to make varsity, rather that they were guaranteed a spot on the team. However, they were still encouraged to participate in off-season practices and better their skills despite their locked-in varsity spot.

Not only did Wimer allocate more time to the freshman and sophomore team, he also emphasized the importance of practicing the sport outside of the high school season. He said it’s crucial that incoming students interested in water polo attend Stevenson’s athletics feeder program, which offers an introduction to specific Stevenson sports. Wimer also encouraged his athletes to play through Northern Illinois Polo Club (NIPC), which he said enhances and improves their skills. NIPC contains age group youth teams, as well as boys’ and girls’ high school club teams.

By participating in different activities and practices, his athletes are able to gain skills that allow the team to succeed in practices as well as games. Because of Wimer’s rigor for his program, his dedication and his confidence in his athletes, his team has set and then exceeded expectations. 

“If you have good relationships with your athletes, they will give you everything they have when competing and that’s all we want as coaches,” Wimer said.