Nestled in the heart of Pennsylvania is a school with a long tradition of playing high-quality water polo. While Lewisburg, Pennsylvania might be an unlikely place to find the sport being fielded at a high level, one of the top Liberal Arts Colleges in America can date its water polo roots back to 1977. In that time, the Bison of Bucknell have consistently been one of the top teams on the East Coast and have competed in multiple NCAA Tournaments.
The leader of the Bison is Head Coach John Abdou. The former UC-Irvine standout assumed the role of men’s and women’s head coach in June of 2008 and in that time has maintained Bucknell’s tradition of excellence. Abdou is the two-time CWPA Southern Division Women’s Coach of the Year and is once again coaching a squad that should be factor in the divisional race. I spoke with Coach Abdou about his women’s squad and we even took a look at next Fall’s men’s campaign. Below is our interview.
Bucknell should be right in that CWPA South mix with Princeton and Maryland. What does your team need to do to win the South and then make waves at Easterns?
There’s no secret as to what we need to do to achieve success in our upcoming California road trip, league games, and championship tournaments at the end of our season. We need to get better at executing the fundamental aspects of water polo and continue to work hard, communicate, be strong leaders, and be mentally tough. The same can be said in regards to all aspects of life.
Hallie Kennan is off to a nice start to the season. Can you tell us a little bit about her and what makes her the effective player that she is?
Hallie is developing nicely as a player. If she continues to embrace the values of the program, I think she can become an excellent left-handed attacker in the conference.>
Valentina Rozas has been a mainstay for your squad and is one of the top overall players in the CWPA. Can you tell us about her and what makes her so effective?
Valentina and fellow Senior Shana Palencia had played well together as part of the El Rancho Water Polo club before they came to Bucknell. They have played a lot minutes for this team since they arrived their freshman year. We need them to perform at the highest of levels and be strong leaders for us to peak at the end of our season.
It is not too early to begin looking ahead to next fall. On paper, your men's squad has a number of key parts coming back. What does Bucknell need to do to be playing in the 2010 Final Four?
You’re absolutely right, it’s not too early. The men have been working hard this offseason in the weight room and in the pool with Coach Paul Rave. The message that we’re sending to the men is that an Eastern Championship will not be won this Fall, but rather this Spring and Summer. Every team in the CWPA works hard during season, so it is going to take a commitment right now to get where we want to be in November.
With that our interview ended. Bucknell is once again fielding a women’s squad that should quietly be a factor in the CWPA Southern Division. On the men’s side, the Bison are loaded and probably cannot wait until next year’s opening sprint as they return a cast of top performers including All-Americans in Richie Hyden and Sean Coghlan. Keep an eye on the squads that John Addou is fielding and the splash that the Bison are continuing to make