Just two summers ago the inaugural Jose Cerda Memorial Tournament hosted six boys’ teams: a couple from Chicago, one from Georgia, and the rest from Ohio, where Moose Water Polo Club hosts the competition in its home town of Cincinnati. This year the field has expanded to 11 boys’ teams from five states, including Tennessee, Georgia, Illinois, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Six girls teams from Ohio, Illinois, and Pennsylvania join the collection in 2013. This summer’s competition begins tomorrow and ends on Sunday, the 14th.
The tournament, organized by Moose WP and Sycamore High School coaches Nick Hellwig and Paul Splitt, memorializes Jose Cerda, a former water polo player at the school. Cerda died after a catastrophic heart event after a swim practice in October of 2010. Jose’s mother, Luisa, created a foundation in his name dedicated to growing aquatics in Southern Ohio. Her request that the Moose summer tournament memorialize Jose received a positive response, and the foundation has been a key supporter since.
Although a club competition, the tournament spotlights many of the best high school teams in the region:
- Knoxville, Tennessee’s 865 Water Polo is coached by Drew Hogan, also of the newly minted state high school champions from Bearden HS.
- Nikola Malezanov, who coached North Allegheny boys to a Pennsylvania state championship last fall, brings his Pittsburgh-based Tiger Water Polo boys and girls squads to Ohio.
- The ATL Lions, affiliated with Atlanta’s St. Pius X High School, are also familiar with state championships having earned another one in Georgia last fall.
- Windy City of Chicago, long associated with Illinois high school champions Fenwick, have sent a boys’ squad.
- Lincoln-Way Area sends a girls team after Lincoln-Way Central were runners up to St. Ignatius in this past spring’s girls high school championship match.
- Both boys’ and girls’ high school finalists from 2012, Sycamore and Upper Arlington, are represented with state champions UA under their own club name, and Moose having a direct connection with Sycamore.