Water Polo Moves into New Aquatic Center

Danielle Montenegro, water polo coach, posing with three 1st Class cadet-athletes, Sydney Shettleroe ’23, Katie Lloyd ’23, and Gia Donatelli ’23.

VMI water polo honored senior players (from left) Sydney Shettleroe ’23, Katie Lloyd ’23, and Gia Donatelli ’23 during their inaugural weekend in the VMI Aquatic Center pool April 2, 2023.—Photo courtesy VMI Athletics.

The VMI water polo program concluded its 11th season in program history this spring, and the third with Danielle Montenegro, head coach, at the helm. In addition to season highlights, the team opened the brand new, state-of-the-art VMI Aquatic Center in April 2023.

The Keydets opened their season with their last match in Clark King Pool before hitting the road with visits to Minnesota and California followed by Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play in New York and Pennsylvania.

A program season highlight was April 1–2, when VMI hosted the first-ever NCAA game(s) in the recently completed Aquatic Center. The Keydets welcomed the entire 10-team MAAC field for the weekend, capping it off with senior day against Mount St. Mary’s. The Aquatic Center’s Olympic regulation-size playing field makes it the top pool in the conference.

Offensively, Courtney Novotny ’25 led the way with 47 goals, while rookie Sadie Smith ’26 netted 44. Sydney Smith ’26—no relation to Sadie—found the back of the net 39 times and totaled 45 drawn exclusions in the process. Caragh Osborne ’24 proved to be the main facilitator of the offense, handing out a team-high 32 assists. Sydney Shettleroe ’23 had a strong campaign, leading the team with 45 steals and 58 drawn exclusions, adding 42 goals in the process. Shettleroe leaves VMI toting two records—most goals in a game (9) and most exclusions in a game (8)—with 145 goals, 178 drawn exclusions, 96 steals, and 81 assists for her career.

In the net, Katie Lloyd ’23 capped off her strong career, collecting 115 saves, 24 steals, and had two assists. In her time at VMI, the Caroline, Virginia, native totaled 353 saves, 46 steals, and two assists. Gia Donatelli ’23 had 25 goals and 27 assists in 2023 to give her 70 scores as a Keydet.

With a strong incoming recruiting class and top-notch facility, the future of VMI water polo is bright.