There is nothing that brings a bigger smile to the face of the average water polo enthusiast than the words “new varsity program”. This fall, marks the addition of a new face to the water polo scene from a state that is seeing increasing numbers at the high school level. Capitalizing on that boom is Notre Dame College which is located in South Euclid, Ohio.
Spearheading the Falcons will be former USC standout Brad Silver. The California native moved to the Cleveland area in 2004 and is eager for the challenge that this new program will provide. I caught up with Coach Silver during the past month and we discussed the beginning of what will hopefully be an outstanding program. Below is our interview.
Notre Dame College begins its inaugural campaign on the men's side this fall. Can you tell us a little bit about the behind the scenes work that goes into getting a varsity program off the ground?
The most important work is based on recruiting athletes from all over the world to make sure Notre Dame College Water Polo begins as a competitive team. I spend hours making phone calls, creating and mailing NDC educational information to coaches and student-athletes, driving to high school tournaments and making an appropriate game schedule.
With water polo being a new sport at Notre Dame College, I have been working on purchasing; goals, appropriate markers for the goal line, 2m, 5m and half tank markers, shot clocks to ensure that our electronic system works as correctly for water polo as it does for Notre Dame College’s Men’s and Women’s Swim Team. I am also purchasing team suits, caps, balls and team uniforms.
Are there any recruits suiting up for Notre Dame College this fall that we should be keeping our eye on?
All of my recruited student-athletes have a combination of positive playing experience and desire to be coached towards the next level. Our Men’s and Women’s teams will play as a “team”. Individuals will work hard to make one another stand out. Notre Dame College’s team performance should be concentrated on more than individual players’ skill.
What are your offensive and defensive philosophies and what style of play should we expect out of Notre Dame College?
Notre Dame College will play “team defense” first. Our athletes will ensure they are working hard to stop opponents and then counterattack. Teammates will enjoy making assists greater than scoring goals. Notre Dame College would rather win a game 1-0 than 15-14. Offensively, the team will create the best match-ups for a successful goal opportunity; be that at two-meters, offensive drives, counterattacks or six on five’s.
What are the expectations that you will set for your team in this inaugural campaign?
More than anything, I want Notre Dame College water polo players to enjoy playing. That satisfaction occurs by playing as a team. Establishing our program as a positive athletic and educated squad will help recruit additional student-athletes in the future to promote our sport in this region of the country.
High school water polo has quietly been improving in the state of Ohio. How do you see your program which is the first collegiate varsity program in the state complementing this growing interest?
Notre Dame College is not the first collegiate varsity team in Ohio. However, at this point we are on track to become the sole NCAA team in the state. Water Polo has been ranked as one of the toughest sports in the world. Collegiate and high school water polo players have had the greatest success in becoming United States Navy Seals than any other national athletes.
The sport of water polo leads student-athletes towards their profession in ways that classrooms do not. The team game prepares individuals to succeed in a career. Water polo players deal with working together to be victorious as well as correcting disappointment.
Swimming is an enormous sport in Ohio. I think that individualized athletics is not as useful towards an athlete’s future as working as a team member. I believe I have both the desire and ability to teach and coach water polo student-athletes. Guiding water polo players towards a flourishing competitive experience leads those individuals to fifty years of profession.
With that our interview ended. One thing I could sense from our conversation is the passion that Coach Silver has for the game and the work that he is putting into his program. It will be interesting to monitor how Notre Dame College does as they have a chance to harness the momentum happening in Ohio on the youth and high school levels. We look forward to seeing this program grow and hope they achieve a level of success that will make other colleges and universities consider adding the sport we all love.