Their Time Has Come!

Richard Hunkler, Ph.D
Water Polo Planet

A couple weeks ago I was thinking It would be a crying shame if the USAWP were to elect a Board of eight directors in which only one or two members are females or if the constituted Board were to hire a CEO who hires very few women on the professional staff. If these two scenarios were to happen in tandem then there is a better than even chance the USAWP could return to same-old - same-old good-old-boys club of the past. The men have been running our water polo organization since its inception and look what we have become - an organization  that our own Olympic Committee doesn't like, an organization that is subsisting on handouts from the Olympic Committee which is making us jump to the sound of their whistle, an organization with a debt so large that several third world countries could feed their poor for many months from it, an organization that is no longer actively trying to prevent the loss of collegiate varsity water polo teams (this would be similar to the European Federation no longer supporting their club team system; like it or not  collegiate varsity teams  in this country are the triple A minor league teams which are almost the sole contributor to the players on both our two national teams - we are now reactive concerning these varsity losses rather than proactive as we were under Dan Sharadin's tutelage), an organization that has put the cart before the horse by believing that if we put all our money into the Olympic teams and win a gold medal then the water polo players will come (all these years if we would have been trying to build a large base of players then a side effect of this would have been Olympic gold medals), and an organization that has done less for more of its members than almost any other national governing body of a sport in this country ( what have we really done for the water polo players not on a national team; what good has been done has actually been done by the Zones rather than the National organization and we are thinking about minimizing the role of the Zones).

Your first question after reading the above diatribe might well be, "Doc do you believe the USAWP has done any good for water polo?" Of course it has! It has done mucho good, but its present poor condition so overwhelms what we were and what we have done that it has commanded my attention. Hopefully, it has your attention as well. We have a chance to wipe the slate clean and start over with this new reorganization plan; however, we need people on the Board that will hire competent, professional people with fresh ideas, creative ideas, innovative ideas - ideas that can help us become the new football of this country or if not the new football then at least the new lacrosse of this country. We need a Board that will hire people on the basis of what they know rather than who they know; and a Board that will be willing to venture into a water polo space where no leaders of our organization have dared go before - a space where competent people of honesty, integrity, good will, concern, and decisiveness are not only hired but rewarded, and also a space where politics as usual are vanished (by space I mean the working conditions and environment of the professional staff).

What does this have to do with electing women on the Board and hiring women on the professional staff? Are you saying one gender can do this job better than the other? No, not really, what I am saying is that the men have had their chance in the last thirty years to show us what they could do with our national water polo organization, and now it is the women's time to show us what they can do. It is not a matter of sex-ism; it is a matter of fair-ism. For many years the women in our organization were treated as if they were second class citizens similar to the way that women were treated in biblical times. You know; they were treated like great works of art - they were to be seen and not heard. Well it is not only the time for more women in our national organization to be seen but also to be heard.

Finally, if the posts on the USAWP and WPP message boards concerning our players, coaches, leaders, parents of players, our organization itself, and even a kitchen sink filled with our players who are minors and who have been trashed by adults are indicative of what the water polo community has become under the umbrella of our current national organization then it is way past the men's time to show us what they can do. It is also past the time of the old hackneyed expression "Put up or shut up". What we need is Board Members and professional staff members who have a different outlook and perspective on the future of our national organization. It appears to me that for the women in our organization, "Their Time Has Come!"

(Other than the fact that there are only two women on the Board of Directors, the makeup of the Board of Directors appears to be very strong. The two women, Lynn Kachmerik and Rachel Rauno, who were placed on the Board are excellent choices because both are bright, knowledgeable, innovative, strong willed and fair minded. They should do very well on the board; however, I would love to have seen them complimented with women such as Sandy Nitta, Carin Crawford, and/ or Maggie Smith. The two Independent Directors, Michael Graff and Brad Bowlus, have enough business smarts, savvy, and sense to come up with ideas to raise funds that will not only erase our present debt but also make us independent of the Olympic Committee. Mike has been a life long friend to water polo and has always put not only his money but his time and effort where his mouth is, and from the way his bio reads, Brad Bowlus, could easily be cut from the same whole cloth as Mike.

The Directors, Bill Smith and Brad Schumacher, are very capable and both have a love of the game that is second to none. The fire in their eyes about making water polo and the USAWP better will not only make them excellent members of the Board of Directors but will also make them contributing members to the Board. The Director, Ed Reynolds, from the sound of his bio should be a go-to-guy and maybe even a closer who will make certain that ideas that are started by the Board will be finished by the Board. The Director, Rich Foster, is a smart guy and his knowledge of the ins-and-outs of national and international intrigue and in-fighting will be invaluable to the Board of Directors.

Okay Doc so you didn't quite get all that you wanted for the Directors of the Board (meaning more female Board members) but you did get a Board of Directors that on paper appears to be a Board that can turn the USAWP on its ear for the betterment of both water polo and the water polo community. For now we in the water polo community will have to be patient, optimistic, and supportive because I truly believe this Board of Directors wants the same thing we want - a National organization that is of the people in water polo, by the people in water polo, and for the people in water polo in this country. This doesn't mean that at the end of each year we can't all act like a native Missourians and say "Show me" - show me that water polo is better now than it was when you started.This might be something we could all fess up to at the end of each year as well - Doc)

Email Coach Hunkler at [email protected]