Saturday, April 12, 2014

Ryan Pryor Named Acting Head Coach at Connecticut College

The Camels of Connecticut College have named a new acting coach after head coach JJ Addison was placed on "administrative leave." Addison was arrested on Wednesday charged with drug possession according to The Day. The college released the following statement regarding the new status of former assistant coach Ryan Pryor:

NEW LONDON, Conn. – Ryan Pryor, assistant water polo coach since 2011, has been named Acting Head Coach of Water Polo at Connecticut College. 
The Women’s Water Polo Team, 12-7 overall, is seeded No. 1 in this weekend’s Division III Championship, hosted by Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn.  
Pryor is a four-time All-Big Ten performer for the University of Michigan club team who earned All-American status in 2009. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan in 2007 and his juris doctor degree from Michigan in 2010. He began his coaching career at the Athens High School in Troy, Mich. in 2006 and, after earning his law degree, he coached at the Walled Lake Schools in 2010. 
“Ryan brings deep water polo experience to this position,” said Francis J. Shields, the Katherine Wenk Christoffers ’45 Director of Athletics at Connecticut College. “He has worked closely with both the men’s and women’s teams, and last year, the women’s team won the College Water Polo Association (CWPA) Division III Eastern Championship.”

Friday, March 28, 2014

Cal State San Bernardino Drops Women's Water Polo

The spring 2014 season will the the last for the Coyotes of Cal State San Bernardino. University Athletic Director Kevin Hatcher announced that the women's water polo team will be "discontinued," according to the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, after the completion of this season. Track and field will be added to the school's offerings next year.

The Coyotes have struggled to emerge from the bottom of the Western Water Polo Association rankings since their inception in 1999. The team is currently 2-19 overall and has not had a winning record since 2008 when it ended the season at 20-17.

The loss of the program comes one year after Colorado State University did the same. Monmouth College in Illinois added varsity women's and men's water polo last year.

Monday, March 24, 2014

UC Santa Barbara Sophomore Nick Johnson Dies After Swim Workout

The intercollegiate water polo community has suffered the loss of another young athlete. UC Santa Barbara sophomore poloist Nick Johnson was found unresponsive at the bottom of a local high school pool and pronounced dead later monday morning at Cottage Hospital according to the Santa Barbara Independent. Johnson was 19.

The death comes just months after University of Southern California freshman Jon Walters died of complications caused by an unknown cardiac issue.

Johnson redshirted the 2012 season and completed his first competitive one last fall. His coach, Wolf Wigo, called him "the best kid, hardest working kid, a first class person and a wonderful student and brother to his teammates" in a UC Santa Barbara Athletics press release.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Azevedo's Olympic Future Heading South?

We're very pleased to share our first piece written for new partner, and spanking new online sports publication, Bad Man Bureau. Revisit them and Total Waterpolo for bi-monthly articles.

Clint Dempsey patrolling the World Cup pitch in an Irish national team kit? Kobe Bryant leading the fast break for Team Italia? Impossible! Well, at least astronomically unlikely.
Not so much for Tony Azevedo, widely considered the best American water polo player ever. The only four-time winner of the Cutino award (collegiate water polo's equivalent of the Heismann Trophy), three times the high school player of the year in the sport's heartland, Southern California, since his youth the phenom was destined for greatness, a standard which he has already achieved by any measure: four-time US Olympian, 2008 Beijing sliver medalist, among the highest paid professionals in Europe.
But now the 32-year-old aquatic superstar is firmly at the center of a transcontinental brouhaha laced with injured national pride, accusations of unseemly cash transfers, and ever shifting allegiances. The ardent global water polo community is aflutter with rumors that he will trade the Stars and Stripes speedo for a (tinier?) Brazilian one in time for the Rio Olympics.
The hosts of the 2016 games, as such given an automatic place in the tournament, have made a strong push to quickly improve their historically mediocre squad by importing the world's most successful coach, Croatian Ratko Rudic, and a coterie of mainly European stars with varying degrees of connection with the new mother country. Rudic was the least controversial get, an itinerant genius who brought gold-medal success to Yugoslavia, Italy, and his native Croatia, with a notable stint as leader of the US team in the early oughts. At that time he began to cultivate the talents of a young Tony Azevedo, and is widely credited with building the foundation of America's surprising 2008 Olympic silver medal squad (a view popular especially among sniffier Europeans, who can't fathom US success without Continental influence).
His signing was a natural prelude to gathering better talent. Thus followed Croatian Josep Vrlic and Serbian goalkeeper Slobodan Soro, both elite players at the highest levels of European professional water polo, who were offered naturalized citizen status. The draw was even easier for Felipe Perrone, Rio-born but long a member of the Spanish national team. He happily repatriated to play for his native country.
Big deal, right? Not so in this country, surely. But the transfers stirred passions in South America and across the Atlantic, where the game has a particularly vocal following (sample some telling video from the 2013 European Club Championship match).
The blazing Serbian swimmer Milorad Cavic, famous for being out-touched by millimeters by Michael Phelps in the 2008 Olympics, intimated that Soro's conversion was half-hearted at least, and a cynical denial of his Serbian national pride (of which there is an abundance).
Some in the Brazilian press schizophrenically lauded the immediate improvement of their squad while simultaneously calling the Slavic chaps "gringos."
And, as with all things sports, there's the money. Our European friends tell us each player will receive at least $200,000 from the Brazilians, while Cavic puts the rumored figure at $400k, at once drawing the admiration and scorn of observers.
Meanwhile, Azevedo made a splash last year announcing he was leaving the legendary Croatian club Jug Dubrovnik for the nearly unheard of Sao Paolo team, SESI. Since his arrival he has enthusiastically used social media to promote his club and the growth of water polo in Brazil. In November he tweeted the same day it was announced that Rudic had been hired. Why should any of this matter to the presumptive five-time US Olympian?
Pure altruism, he might say. Azevedo wrote that his move to Brazil was based solely on his "desire to help develop the sport of water polo." Its only chance for growth, he said, was "to reach out to countries beyond the perennial powerhouses of Europe."
Cavic, a former poloist and self-professed fan of the sport, sympathizes with that view, calling it a "dying" sport whose powers are over-concentrated in one part of Europe. Only the legitimate expansion of the game outside that region can save it, he says, lending sideways praise to Azevedo's and Brazil's efforts.

Then there's the simple fact that, like Perrone, Azevedo was born in Brazil, an understandable rationale for joining his native land's national squad, especially as the Olympic Games' next host. Then again, maybe the attachment to Brazil extends only as far as Azevedo's professional career and the income it generates, and his allegiance to the US national team remains intact.
What do the Brazilians think? Several writers – including Cavicanother Serb, and a local – may have already revealed their prevailing wishes by strongly suggesting that Azevedo has already been or should be heavily recruited to join with Vrlic, Soro, and Perrone. Who could complain about feeling so wanted?
To address all that twisting speculation about his intentions, Azevedo has barely lifted a key-finger, curtly tweeting that it is all based on "rumors" without elaborating.
Indeed, USA Water Polo is proceeding (under the leadership of a new Serbian coach) as if Azevedo remains committed to the American team, with which he remains in contact, according to someone with knowledge of the organization.
All may be resolved by this fall when Azevedo will have presumably logged one full year of Brazilian residence, after which he can, by Fina rule, commit to the South American team if he so chooses. Azevedo's last appearance in US colors was at the Fina Cup last July.
Truth is, no one knows.
But none of this matter-of-fact analysis and entertaining speculation can obscure one fact: Azevedo donning the green and yellow in 2016 would be a colossal alteration of the American water polo culture, one in which he is almost uniformly placed on the "Mt. Rushmore" of all-time greats and where many consider him the only thing preventing a US fall to global mediocrity. Such a choice, all reasonable understanding of his legitimately dual-nationality aside, would dramatically change perceptions of the Yankee superstar for years.
All this in a sport that remains largely outside the American public eyeexcept when its skimpy unis and underwater brutality are featured every quadrennial. Welcome to the passions of international water polo.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Long Beach Wilson Taps Los Alamitos Again for New Coach

The boys' program at Long Beach Wilson has a new coach.

Jeff Nesmith is taking the same professional route as his predecessor, Tony Martinho, by leaving the neighboring Los Alamitos boys' program, which he joined just over a year ago. The Grunion Gazette broke the story late Wednesday.

Nesmith returns to his alma mater after stints at Marina High School and time with the local club, Swim Focus. The Stanford grad was a standout on the dominant Bruins of the late 90s when his teams won three CIF-Southern Section championships.

He takes over a squad that suffered a disappointing quarterfinal loss to Loyola of Los Angeles in last November's Southern Section Division I playoffs after earning the second seed.

The program, which for many years called the historic Belmont Plaza its home pool, is likely to take advantage of that facility's replacement during the new coach's tenure. On Tuesday the Long Beach City Council approved the selection of an architectural firm to design and build the new facility. The new pool is expected to be completed in three years, according to the Press Telegram.