1985 opened up a new era in USA Water Polo with Bill Barnett, coach at Newport Harbor High School, stepping into the Head Coaching position vacated by Monte Nitzkowski. Stepping forward with Bill was Steve Heaston, assistant coach at UC, Berkeley. Bill and Steve had had a successful run as coaches of the National Junior Team and they would continue to coach the National Team for the next four years.
The first competition was the FINA Cup in Duisburg, Germany. The team had three holdovers from the 1984 Olympic Team, Peter Campbell, Kevin Robertson and Terry Schroeder, and a host of new names. They made a strong showing, finishing in second place.
The highlight for 1986 was the World Championships in Madrid, Spain. Doug Burke, Jody Campbell and Craig Wilson from the 1984 team had re-upped and we made it to the medal round, but finished fourth. 1987 included the FINA Cup in Thessaloniki, Greece, where we again made the medal round, but again finished fourth. These Championships marked the first time that women’s water polo was included as an official event. Our women played well and finished in third place, behind Australia and Holland. The Pan Am Games were held in Indianapolis, Indiana, and it seemed the home cooking agreed with the group and we won the Gold Medal, defeating Cuba in the title game.
1988 US Olympic Team
The 1988 Olympic Games were held in Seoul, Korea. I attended the games as one of the US Delegates to the FINA Congress. Our team again remained strong and ended up facing our 1984 opponent, Yugoslavia. To do this, we had to defeat Hungary, and Terry Schroeder accomplished this for us in the final minute of play, scoring to break a tie score and put us in the medal round with a 10-9 win. In the semifinals, we handled Russia 8-7, while Yugoslavia was defeating Germany 14-10. The title game was as hard fought as the one in Los Angeles. However, the rules had been changed and when the game ended in a tie at 6-6 through regulation, the teams went to overtime and Yugoslavia outscored us to win the Gold Medal 9-7. This was a disappointment to the team, but being second best in the world at the Olympic Games is something of which to be proud. The major event for the women in 1988 was the FINA Cup, held in Christchurch, New Zealand, where the finish was Netherlands, Hungary, Canada and USA.
Dr. Terry Schroeder Caring US flag at 1988 Olympics
1989 started a new Olympic Quadrennial with Bill Barnett remaining as Head Coach, but Steve Heaston retiring. Again, the new year became a changing of the guard with many new players appearing on the National Team. The FINA Cup was held in Berlin, Germany, and the US Finished in eighth place. The women’s FINA Cup was held in Eindhoven, Netherlands, with the finish being Netherlands, USA and Hungary.
This article was first posted on the American Water Polo web site
and they graciously allowed the Water Polo Planet to re-post it.