Growing Water Polo in the Midwest

Idea exchange for starting up a club
minnpolo
Posts: 127
Joined: Thu Apr 24, 2008 11:32 am

Growing Water Polo in the Midwest

Postby minnpolo » Mon Jul 07, 2008 12:07 pm

I have played water polo for 10 years in the Midwest, from the Chicago Park District through the Chicago Catholic League and now in the CWPA Heartland Division. I love the sport, I love the community. There is no good reason related to my ability that I should have played that long, I am terrible. And as such, after college there is no good way for me to stay involved other than refereeing, which I plan to do. Outside pockets in MO, IL and MI, (I plan to live in WI or MN) there simply isn't very much water polo in the Midwest. I'd like to change that. We saw how a dedicated group of individuals with a good goal and a plan made water polo a varsity sport in Illinois that now hosts over 60 teams for each gender. I'd like to see people from diverse backgrounds (College teams, high schools, clubs and others) develop a similar plan to the one that brought IL Polo from club to varsity to bring all Midwest water polo up. There is more and more interest in minor sports, looking at La Crosse and Rugby especially, as women get more athletic and men look not just to be on a third string of a football team but play something (and something they can play much longer).

And so I'm looking for people who would be interested in actually organizing, not just postulating on this website, to reach these goals (or similar ones) in the next 10 or so years.

Highschool:
Over 100 (per gender) teams in Illinois
Varsity Status in MI and MO with double the number of teams
School Clubs in IN, WI, IA and MN
More regional play across states, facilitated by college and club teams that bring together disparate teams so their players can meet prospective coaches

College:
A new varsity conference for men and women consisting of teams from the Midwest
2-3 more CWPA club divisions, especially looking at smaller schools to increase membership. This could be accomplished by existing teams or groups of existing teams hosting clinics for prospective teams
More regional play across divisions, facilitated by high school and club teams that bring together disparate teams so their players can meet prospective coaches

Senior Clubs
New clubs in all the metro regions including Madison, Minneapolis, Lansing, etc with a defined conference and structure

Referees
At least double the number of referees
Focus on recruiting recent graduates of high school and especially college teams to get them right into referee
Focus on recruiting referees over a wide geography to keep costs down so that remote teams aren't discouraged by high costs.
Martin Walsh
St. John's University Water Polo Club
http://clubs.csbsju.edu/waterpolo

Looking to build water polo in the upper midwest

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jordangregory
Posts: 49
Joined: Wed Oct 26, 2005 1:10 pm
Location: Ohio

Re: Growing Water Polo in the Midwest

Postby jordangregory » Tue Sep 29, 2009 12:04 am

I like the enthusiasm, but I think that you forgot Ohio is in the Midwest :D

ohiosquirrels
Posts: 13
Joined: Fri Jul 24, 2009 3:29 pm
How are you connected to water polo?: I am the organizer behind the Ohio Squirrels Water Polo club which is based out of Cincinnati, Ohio. We play/travel year round.

I officiate high school water polo in Cincinnati.

Re: Growing Water Polo in the Midwest

Postby ohiosquirrels » Fri Sep 02, 2011 2:42 pm

Ohio has taken leaps and bounds over the course of the past 5 years.

High School:
We have added several men's and women's high school programs. While this is nowhere near the level of Illinois, we are growing.
14 Boys Teams (most have JV teams too)
12 Girls Teams (most have JV teams too)

Teams are broken up into a North or South region depending on their location. Teams play at a Regional level and top 2 teams from each region participate in a State Championships at the end of October.

College Club:
Currently, there are ten college club men's programs. Not all of these are a part of the CWPA due to funding. On the women's side, there are only two. For the senior level, there are 3 teams that have been created since 2007 - Ohio Squirrels (Cincinnati), Columbus and Cleveland. The senior teams are the most active and usually raise the level of competitiveness at the college club tournaments.

College Varsity
New varsity program at Notre Dame College - DII.
http://notredamefalcons.com/sports/2010/3/18/GEN_0318_PR2.aspx?tab=waterpolo

Referees
Ohio Water Polo Referees Assocation (OWPRA) was created to provide a strucutered referee organization for the high school and club matches/tournaments. All of these referees are required to pay membership dues (rules book, insurance, training, etc), take an online rules test and particpate in a water polo academy course. These helps to ensure all referees are on the same level. The high school coaches have adopted this assocation. The partnership between coaches and referees could not be any better than it is today. Some of our referees have been doing CWPA, others have joined USA Water Polo and traveled to JOs, ODP...etc. Please visit http://www.owpra.com for more information.

Ohio Water Polo Camp
There was 2-Day Ohio Water Polo Camp held at University of Cincinnati. 67 kids attended an 8 instructors that were brought in from out of town. This is an ongoing event that will give elite water polo access to kids ages 12-18.
http://www.ohiowaterpolocamp.com

For all information on Ohio Water Polo, please attend to http://www.ohiowaterpolo.com

Not all of these clubs are a part of USA Water Polo due to high costs and restrictions of using that membership. Some of them have joined American and some of them have started their own insurance policy for much less. They just want to play and provide an outlet for their players (young or old) to keep playing and learning. The exposure needed to play in California is no longer wanted because it is too much assumed that none of these young players will ever get plucked....unless they pay way too much money (airfare, tournament entrance, usa water polo fee, travel, time, energy). Ohio has had 2 players go West in the past two years. We have it in our backyard and we have the elite coaches/players that want to move toward this more and more to keep costs down and to make it stronger within. That is our progress.

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Torchbearer
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Joined: Tue Dec 20, 2005 2:32 pm
Location: Asheville, NC

Re: Growing Water Polo in the Midwest

Postby Torchbearer » Fri Sep 02, 2011 4:15 pm

Good to see OH making such progress. Just to keep the record straight, the YMCA teams I coached in IA and IL in the 1960s and here at Asheville, NC, in the '70s played in those days against OH youth teams from Cincy, Cleveland, Dayton, Findlay, Lima, Mansfield, Marion, Toledo, and Van Wert. I still have most of the newspaper articles in my scrapbook. As you probably know, the Cincy Marlins were a powerhouse in women's water polo in the early '70s, hosting national championships at Keating Natatorium and traveling to play from FL to CA. The coach was Paul Bergen, and they had three Olympic swimmers in their lineup. I believe they won the Women's Senior Indoors in 1974. Lima YMCA had a very good boys' team, and Mansfield wasn't bad. Toledo had some good girls, and that city conducted the 1975 U.S. Junior Olympic Championships with 15 teams attending from coast to coast. The Brooklyn Branch YMCA of Cleveland, utilizing a zone defense, won the Y Nationals held at Greenville, SC, in 1976. There were also strong teams just down the road from y'all in KY, especially in Lexington. Much of what we did in water polo in this area, the SE, and maybe in your area, as well, has been forgotten, but we did have some Very good teams and players in the past.

sylpolo2
Posts: 58
Joined: Sun Jan 03, 2010 1:17 am
How are you connected to water polo?: Player, Coach
Location: Ohio

Re: Growing Water Polo in the Midwest

Postby sylpolo2 » Sat Sep 03, 2011 5:39 pm

ohiosquirrels wrote:Ohio has had 2 players go West in the past two years.


I know Dan Matulis is one, but who is the other?

ohiosquirrels
Posts: 13
Joined: Fri Jul 24, 2009 3:29 pm
How are you connected to water polo?: I am the organizer behind the Ohio Squirrels Water Polo club which is based out of Cincinnati, Ohio. We play/travel year round.

I officiate high school water polo in Cincinnati.

Re: Growing Water Polo in the Midwest

Postby ohiosquirrels » Mon Sep 05, 2011 11:35 am

Kelly Sullivan. Played for San Diego Mesa College.

We just had a new HS team start up at St. Xavier High School. We are hoping this will bring back the success of what was produced back in the 70s...

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Torchbearer
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Joined: Tue Dec 20, 2005 2:32 pm
Location: Asheville, NC

Re: Growing Water Polo in the Midwest

Postby Torchbearer » Mon Sep 05, 2011 2:38 pm

Good luck with your efforts in OH. I have good memories of taking our Asheville YMCA water polo girls to play in the original eight-lane, 50-meter Keating Natatorium in Cincinnati in the early 1970s, playing in national competition against the Marlins and other top teams from FL and CA and elsewhere. The Marlins also came to Asheville to play in our smaller pools, as did teams from several other OH communities. Both Water Polo Planet and American Water Polo have helpful sections devoted to the history of our sport, much of which has been dismissed (unfortunately) by USAWP. At Water Polo Planet's main page, look for Polo Articles and scroll down to find Lest We Forget. At American Water Polo (http://www.americanwaterpolo.org), punch in the News section near the top and then look for the Education and Human Interest sections in the left-hand column and search there for a variety of historical articles, with more to come in the near future. You might have to scroll down and look around to find the articles at the AWP site, but it's worth the effort. For what it's worth, I recently wrote a 240-page book about my own personal experiences in water polo, mostly in the 1960s/'70s/'80s, when we were playing in AAU and YMCA competition. It may or may not appeal to you. It's been published by Authorhouse and is available from http://www.amazon.com/books, and when that site pops up, write in the title, Water Polo the Y's Way, at the top search site. You'll find info on the book, hopefully, plus two reviews. And again, the best of luck with your polo programs in OH.

jaluka99
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Sep 07, 2011 11:21 am
How are you connected to water polo?: Player, Coach, Ref

Re: Growing Water Polo in the Midwest

Postby jaluka99 » Wed Sep 07, 2011 11:31 am

Thanks for the publicity to my two "homers" (the best refs in Ohio BTW). St X is coming along very well. We are working through pool time issues as the Marlins have grown into such a successful swim program that they just can't find the pool time around the city to support the demand for swimming time. Water Polo is no longer in the mix with the Marlins (for now...)

Chuck - I actually have seen your book and it gave me the idea to go to one of our local YMCAs that has a brand-new deep, 50-meter 10-lane heated pool. Right now there is NO water polo going on there and according to them, the national YMCA doesn't have water polo as a priority or program. I was really surprised to find when searching that the only YMCA that I could see that actively promotes and age-group system online is the Greenwich Y in CT.

I immediately ran into a negative vibe with the swim coach there, and this seems to be the biggest deterrent to getting polo growing - a distrust of Water Polo by swim coaches (one called it a "Eurotrash sport that is dying anyway") and a lack of pool time (largely caused because swimmers are expected to swim year round with no break). It's a shame, because the boys from St X are commenting on just how good the conditioning is for them this fall and how much happier they are to be doing it this way vs. just swimming for 10 months a year.

I would welcome help trying to re-establish the YMCA as a conduit for polo. There is more than enough room in our pool to have 10 lanes of swim practice and a 25-yard polo course set up at one time, but the YMCA seems to have no interest in really pushing the sport - would be great to show them the history or give them some other Y's to talk to that are successful with the program.

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Torchbearer
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Location: Asheville, NC

Re: Growing Water Polo in the Midwest

Postby Torchbearer » Thu Sep 08, 2011 12:36 am

Okay, 99, here's a quick solution to your problem. Run out and buy 20 copies of my "Water Polo the Y's Way" book and give 'em to the aquatic leaders at 20 nearby Ys, and then watch the sport grow! Hey, I wish it were that easy. On a serious note, let me try to provide you with what I believe to be the current situation. First, the YMCA, as a national organization, has generally eliminated most of its national sports programs. The only two remaining are competitive swimming and gymnastics, both of which attract hordes of young children and thus can be profitable for most Ys. Here in Asheville, a medium-size city with very average swimming facilities, we have 120 kids on our Y swim squad ... who pay an average of $70 per month to participate ... which adds up to a financially feasible program. Multiply this by the 600 Ys that have youth swim teams and you can see that this is still a big program and a worthwhile activity for most local Ys and for the YMCA of the USA, our national organization. Ditto with gymnastics. As for the other, lesser sports, which would include water polo, there just isn't enough interest either locally or nationally nowadays. Instead, the YMCA is doing as it's always done, which is to provide what the community wants, and in recent years almost every community has requested more childcare and more basic fitness activities. In both of these, the Y is now the largest provider in the U.S. Here in Asheville, our Y has 20 childcare sites, and you can hardly find a parking spot at any of the several Y fitness centers. I shan't elaborate on this situation any further except to say that water polo and other minor/lesser sports will not likely return to the YMCA's aquatic agenda anytime soon. Second, somewhat related to this situation is the status of water polo itself. In the old days, it was a swimming sport, and almost all the players I coached also participated in competitive swimming. Our Y kids swam races during the winter (indoor) season and then played polo during the spring, summer and autumn months. While I and almost all of the 200 girls and boys in our Asheville Y program preferred to play polo, winning a number of national tourneys, we also posted a ten-year dual swim meet record of 80 wins against just 8 losses and 1 tie. Water polo was a SWIMMING sport in the past, and as such, it was attractive to swimmers and their coaches, at least as an off-season activity. The American Swimming Coaches Association was a strong proponent of water polo, and I happened to chair the ASCA water polo committee. I could quickly name a dozen Olympic swimmers who were also water polo All-Americans in the 1950s/60s/70s. Nowadays, as has been pointed out repeatedly on the various WPP threads, water polo more closely resembles a wrestling match. No wonder so many U.S. swimming coaches don't like it, and no wonder it's in trouble even in Europe. Who knows? Maybe if we cleaned up the game and re-emphasized teamwork and fair play and good sportsmanship, water polo would grow nationally. And then maybe even some Ys would take up the game again. Cool. But I'm not holding my breath. Which is why I wrote my book, to preserve in writing a special era from the past that we'll probably never see again. And so it goes ...

jaluka99
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Joined: Wed Sep 07, 2011 11:21 am
How are you connected to water polo?: Player, Coach, Ref

Re: Growing Water Polo in the Midwest

Postby jaluka99 » Tue Sep 13, 2011 4:27 pm

Now THAT was an honest response! If only everyone would...

I tend to agree that the state of the international style of polo has become a wrestling match. We discuss this in coaching and reffing circles. My group is ALL swimmers. We are running a shifting umbrella with a moving hole-set because we don't have the type of players to post up and draw the kickouts and we don't have the perimeter shooters to hit 6 meter shots on an M-Zone defense.

Having said that - I strongly believe there is one thing we could do to make the sport more appealing again to athletes/swimmers, and not just kick-out drawing monsters (like me ;-)

I think the Direct shot should be eliminated and we should say that a player can become a shooter again 3 seconds after a foul. If I foul and drop the center, I can get burned as my attacker pops the ball swims away from me and shoots 3 seconds later. What we have done instead to prevent the foul and drop is just STOP CALLING FOULS...I find this very discouraging because a defender can practically sink a player and we DON'T call the foul because it is an advantage to the defender to do so - especially at the wing position inside 5 meters.

I do like the elimination of ordinary fouls in the hole of course - the game used to be nothing more than a foul fest with too many whistles. If I could no longer foul and drop, there would be no reason to have a man sitting in the hole posted up. Driving should not be a swim and shoot tactic, but a swim and set tactic - getting ball side and position. this would mean shots would require more "finesse" than power - something swimmers would be able to do without throwing a 90MPH fast ball or benching 300 lbs in the water. This would require a different type of player - although you could continue to try to play a power game if that it was works for you.

The real issue is that the pressure to keep pools filled year round with lanes upon lanes of "paying" swimmers, most of whom will stop swimming once they graduate high school and never see a pool again - all to support the very few gifted swimmers who will make national times. Most kids who would be good at water polo have already chosen other sports (soccer, basketball, lacrosse, baseball) by the time they ever get exposed to it, and it is too late to learn in time. YMCAs, Municipal pools and even high school pools with support from volunteers like us help get kids exposure early on. Since I ran a Splashball camp this summer and began coaching high school - i already have 7 12-unders from a limited group whose parents are BEGGING for us to put together an age group program and their kids WANT to do this vs. swim year-round. There are two other age-group programs in town for 10-14 year olds - one in Cincy and one in dayton that have 20+ kids each.

At the end of the day, zealous volunteers (with resources and resolve) and the backing of parents can get this moving again.

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