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Water Polo


Chico_SA

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Is about to explode in Texas.   I'm assuming this will be news to most here, but Water Polo was added to UIL's list of sports. This is a long time coming for many who have been pushing for this for decades. It is the first new sport added to UIL since Wrestling was added in 1999.  Competition will start in Fall 2021.  

I've always felt like Texas was the perfect place to grow the sport. We have some incredible club swimming programs, and kids who are hungry to play. When I played in high school many years ago, the only schools that really competed were NISD schools in SA, St. Marks, and the Houston area (Sterling, Humble, Clear Lake/Creek, etc) schools.

There are already some strong club presences out there in Dallas, Houston, and Austin, but I think things are going to get moving elsewhere.  

Share your experiences or thoughts. 

 

 

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My favorite sport I ever played by a mile, and I was a pretty decently decorated college swimmer. My front teeth are still kicked back from a game against the Naval Academy's club team with some useless distracted refs. I deserved it, the guy who did it and I laughed about it after the game (my team did win of course).

It combines the incredible all-over workout of swimming, the physical contact of football, and the learn-to-cheat-the-ref of soccer. It's so so much fun. 

Texas has more big athletes than a lot of states, and a surfeit of nice pools (seriously, a normal height Texas girl suddenly feels like a giant in NYC) - it should be really good at it.

Edited by texifornia
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Didn't know it was added as a HS Sport. That's pretty cool, but it doesn't really  strike me as a natural fit in Texas.   

I played 1 year on a JV team. It is not a sport for wimps.

For anyone who has never played, think of it more in the spirit of full contact ice hockey or rugby, just in the water. Fouls are an expected part of defense and, and what the ref can't see under the water, well that shit never happened. 

  

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12 minutes ago, 0xdeadbeef said:

Didn't know it was added as a HS Sport. That's pretty cool, but it doesn't really  strike me as a natural fit in Texas.   

I played 1 year on a JV team. It is not a sport for wimps.

For anyone who has never played, think of it more in the spirit of full contact ice hockey or rugby, just in the water. Fouls are an expected part of defense and, and what the ref can't see under the water, well that shit never happened. 

  

I think given Texas' size advantage and general love of contact sports, it should fit in well, same reason Hungary, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia dominate internationally. You need big, athletic kids willing to take a punch (that the ref will not see and won't call) to score a goal. Feels right?

Edited by texifornia
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Grew up playing with ChicoSA.  Rec at UT, club in Houston (HOPS) then played club in NYC at St. Francis.   Enjoyed getting stuck guarding Ryan Bailey and a tournament at the USNA while playing on the east coast.  6'5 Bailey looked back at 5.8' midtown and just laughed and crammed it in the goal.  My shining moment was scoring 3 goals vs NYC when playing for Long Island in the Empire State games up in Cortland, NY.

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On 9/19/2020 at 9:19 AM, midtown said:

Grew up playing with ChicoSA.  Rec at UT, club in Houston (HOPS) then played club in NYC at St. Francis.   Enjoyed getting stuck guarding Ryan Bailey and a tournament at the USNA while playing on the east coast.  6'5 Bailey looked back at 5.8' midtown and just laughed and crammed it in the goal.  My shining moment was scoring 3 goals vs NYC when playing for Long Island in the Empire State games up in Cortland, NY.

I know the feeling.  Going to high school in Long Beach got me a steady diet of guys of Bailey’s caliber.  

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10 hours ago, Upgrayedd said:

I know the feeling.  Going to high school in Long Beach got me a steady diet of guys of Bailey’s caliber.  

Well some of the best defenders in the world had a hard time with keeping Bailey out of the goal so I'm in good company.  ha

I also was appointed to sprint against Steve Gill once.   It ended as one would expect. 

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This is great to hear for Texas high school sports.  I hope it gets extended into female athletics as well.  I think my oldest could be good at it one day.  I only played two years of it at the high school level in Illinois.  But it is fucking-a brutal at high levels.  We were a great program and mixed it up with really good programs with guys like Brian Pendergast.  He went on to play for the Olympic Team and I never guarded him, but drove against him and he was a beast.  I think he played for Air Force and ended up being their head coach as well.  We also had on our women's varsity team (the year ahead of me), the two-time Illinois State Player of the Year.  She would scrimmage against us as goalkeeper and she pretty much swatted away everything we could throw at her from even close in.  She ended up on a full-ride to Wisconsin.   

But yeah, it seems lame to the outside fan.  But as stated above, it's an incredibly strenuous game.  Offense, defense, transition, and physicality.  All very tolling on the body and even if you're just at ease during plays, you at least still gotta tread water.  I did a half-season as goal keeper as well, that was another beat-down in and of itself.  My hand-eye coordination wasn't awesome, I could just read arm angles well.  And like some of you, I was a really good swimmer, a really good defender, and had a really good arm, but wasn't great at any of them so the sport was still a bitch for me.  And such is Water Polo.  I'd see guys that could bounce a target from 20 yards up water but they couldn't swim back on defense for shit.  Likewise, swimmers who were fast as hell (remember in Water Polo you don't get to start off a block, it's how fast can you get back on transition on a dime with some asshole tugging on your leg under-water) but they could barely pass the ball to the hole man without fucking it up.  Spent most of my time as a driver/flat but holy cow...if the mid-torso of a hole man could talk.  Those guys took and gave massive beatings under the water.  I bet you could do a study of how many of them had reproductive issues later in life from knees to the ball-sack in tepid water.  

humblebrag/csb:     Like most guys on here, I played high school football.  Big woop.  I did one semester of fall-ball baseball at a Div. 1 program and then rowed crew for that same school in the Spring at the varsity level (albeit on the novice 8-man boat).  I'm way outta shape now but the toughest thing I ever did athletically, albeit only at the high school level...was Water Polo.  By far.  It's always gonna be one of those sports where you never appreciate it unless you played it.  To the outside world...it's just fun-time swimming with a beach ball in the middle.  But it is a brutal combination of endurance, team shooting/passing, not drowning, great violence, and furious speed.  And while getting knocked to the hardwood in basketball sucks, getting hit and sinking to the bottom of the pool is apparently also not fun nor safe.  

So glad this is making a splash in Texas.  Gonna be great for kids that are big, tough, and somewhat fast but aren't under the delusion that they're getting football scholarships.  It's also a great, great way for female athletes to get full rides to really great colleges up and down both coasts.  

Anyway, love the horror stories above, keep 'em coming.  

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Some cool insight Lobo.

Yeah.  It's just so hard.  The last time I played in a Master's tournament, it just wasn't any fun.  I had lost my ability to transition back and forth for a full quarter and ended not being able to contribute on offense like I used to.  Since I'm small, my game was all speed, crafty drives, countering late in the shot clock, and playing deceptive defense while staying the hell out of center D when possible. 

Most schools will have boys and girls programs from the get go. 

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11 hours ago, Chico_SA said:

The last time I played in a Master's tournament, it just wasn't any fun. 

There is in shape.There is in great shape There is good swimming shape. There is great swimming shape Then way past all that is waterpolo shape.

I used to tell people.  I can play most of the sports everyone else does and even though I suck I can still do them.  Other than fighting Mike Tyson.   Odds are high you will literally drown to death playing my sport. 

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Well, I'll just go ahead and breach the topic.  Women's water polo uniforms are top-notch.  I can say that because I've almost been knocked unconscious by some women's water polo passes.  The ones that can throw sidearm almost like a Quisenberry were lethal.  It's not about arm strength in water polo at least when it came to passing (shots on goal, yeah)...it was more deceptive finesse.  Don't let them know where the pass was going until it was already received.  

But the egg-beater kick.  When they teach it, it's all fun and games and staying afloat.  When you play the game at a competitive level, you learn the other part.  It's used to kick the shit out of your opponent while guarding them in set.  

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Former college swimmer and HS swimmer/water polo player at one of the schools mentioned in op.  Water polo was just a lot of fun and broke up the monotony of always having swim practice.  Actually helped my swimming...50/100 free weren't my discipline but my times dropped significantly from playing water polo.

I remember one of the HS teams from California came and played some matches in Texas when I was playing, they smoked us.

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My oldest son played 4 years HS water polo plus 4 years of club water polo.  He loved it.  He even went to California one year to compete in the US Junior Olympics (Water Polo) and got mega sun burned (outdoor pools).  Too bad it wasn't UIL when he played.  So what difference will it make for current Texas HS kids now that it's a UIL sport?  An official championship tournament?

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1 hour ago, tx ind said:

Former college swimmer and HS swimmer/water polo player at one of the schools mentioned in op.  Water polo was just a lot of fun and broke up the monotony of always having swim practice.  Actually helped my swimming...50/100 free weren't my discipline but my times dropped significantly from playing water polo.

I remember one of the HS teams from California came and played some matches in Texas when I was playing, they smoked us.

Loved water polo.  Hated swim season.  Senior year finished polo in the winter and swim coach asked about swim season in the spring.  LOL ya no.  I'm good, thanks.

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30 minutes ago, bernorange said:

So what difference will it make for current Texas HS kids now that it's a UIL sport?  An official championship tournament?

I assume some financial support with refs, tournaments etc?   And just general coordination with teams.  Chico will know

 

1 hour ago, tx ind said:

I remember one of the HS teams from California came and played some matches in Texas when I was playing, they smoked us.

Was this circa 84ish?  

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14 hours ago, bernorange said:

My oldest son played 4 years HS water polo plus 4 years of club water polo.  He loved it.  He even went to California one year to compete in the US Junior Olympics (Water Polo) and got mega sun burned (outdoor pools).  Too bad it wasn't UIL when he played.  So what difference will it make for current Texas HS kids now that it's a UIL sport?  An official championship tournament?

For coaches, it means, or should mean,  a Head Coaches position.  This will be the big conversation next year.  It's a separate sport, so should be treated as such.

And yes a championship.  UIL water polo will start in early August.  It's pretty much the same as the volleyball schedule. Championship format for Region and State.  As a swim/water polo coach, this means I have a chance to use Water Polo to hook some kids into aquatics.  I might be able to find some sprinters. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Coached the last 2 weekends of the Central Texas Festival hosted by Aqua Tex, and Zilla up in Cedar Park and Round Rock. I took my Boerne team up last weekend and this weekend.  It was very well run.  I felt like they had a great mitigation plan. A team from California came out this past weekend since this is one of the first USA Water Polo sanctioned tournaments to be held. My takeaway.  We have some strong young players in Texas. The established Girls Clubs are playing very physical. The schools that already have a good number of club players will definitely be leading the pack when UIL kicks off. San Antonio area teams will need to try to get their swimmers to play polo also, and use speed on the counter attack, both offensively and defensively, if they are going to have a chance to compete from the get go. 

 

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17 minutes ago, Chico_SA said:

Coached the last 2 weekends of the Central Texas Festival hosted by Aqua Tex, and Zilla up in Cedar Park and Round Rock. I took my Boerne team up last weekend and this weekend.  It was very well run.  I felt like they had a great mitigation plan. A team from California came out this past weekend since this is one of the first USA Water Polo sanctioned tournaments to be held. My takeaway.  We have some strong young players in Texas. The established Girls Clubs are playing very physical. The schools that already have a good number of club players will definitely be leading the pack when UIL kicks off. San Antonio area teams will need to try to get their swimmers to play polo also, and use speed on the counter attack, both offensively and defensively, if they are going to have a chance to compete from the get go. 

 

What CA team/club?

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1 minute ago, Chico_SA said:

Gold Coast.  I  believe from Ventura. 

 

Nice. ¬†Keep working on speed. ¬†Don‚Äôt need to tell you how many goals get scored on counter. ¬†I spent a fair amount of my time playing wondering ‚Äúhow the fuck did he get all the way down there?‚ÄĚ

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  • 4 months later...

I was lucky to be able to take my club team up to play in Round Rock this past weekend. San Antonio NISD teams aren't playing TISCA Water Polo this year, so they allowed my club to play in the "season" tournaments. We obviously aren't allowed to play in the Regional and State tournaments in April and May since we are a combined team. I can't wait for UIL to start in 2022. 

Cedar Park and Round Rock Girls were solid. We didn't play them, but I watched their game go down to the last seconds. I believe it was a 15 to 14 Final for Cedar Park. My girls team got crushed by the AquaTex club team, but beat Westwood High.  There were some very strong boys on the Westwood, Round Rock, and Austin High teams. But the majority of their players were swimmers learning to play Water Polo. Lots of potential with those teams but they struggled against my club team. 

It was great to just be able to enjoy a weekend of High School Water Polo.  

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  • 2 weeks later...

 

I swam in hs, played water polo on the rec team at UT for a few years (early 80s). I really wasn't very good, but I could elevate out of the water higher than most, and have long arms, so they made me goalie on the B team.

 

I need to get back in a pool and see if my old ass can still egg beater.

 

 

 

 

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19 hours ago, High Plains Drifter said:

 

I swam in hs, played water polo on the rec team at UT for a few years (early 80s). I really wasn't very good, but I could elevate out of the water higher than most, and have long arms, so they made me goalie on the B team.

 

I need to get back in a pool and see if my old ass can still egg beater.

 

 

 

 

It's like riding a bike, the egg-beater kick anyway and changing directions on a dime---comes back to you okay.  At least for my out-of-shape ass at 44 (I played 2 years varsity in HS and one year club in college way on way back when).  however, what does not come back is that thing you're supposed to with the ball when you're in the water---passing and/or shooting.  Holy shit, I can get off about 2 shots on goal or 5 decent passes and I'm just fucking gassed.  If you don't really care where it's going you can come up and hurl it and then people in the rec center look at you like, "why the fuck you throwing it at our families here to watch dude?"  

Edited by Lobo
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On 3/21/2021 at 9:58 PM, Lobo said:

It's like riding a bike, the egg-beater kick anyway and changing directions on a dime---comes back to you okay. .....  however, what does not come back is that thing you're supposed to with the ball when you're in the water---passing and/or shooting.  Holy shit, I can get off about 2 shots on goal or 5 decent passes and I'm just fucking gassed. 

Hah hah. Yep. After my High School Club practice on Sundays, I was given some water time for Masters players to come in and mess around. I got in a few weeks ago, and my experience was just like your description. What I thought was going to be a powerful shot was anything but. I blame the cedar for my need to suck wind. 

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  • 2 months later...
  • 3 weeks later...
On 6/24/2021 at 12:15 PM, Chico_SA said:

Anyone have access to a recent Houston Chronicle article about Water Polo? Someone linked it on Twitter but I can’t open it.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

try this link

https://www.houstonchronicle.com/neighborhood/katy/article/Water-polo-building-momentum-in-Texas-ahead-of-16260617.php?cmpid=gsa-chron-result

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  • 4 weeks later...

Thought I would post again since some of you have been able to take in some Water Polo during the Olympics.

As I mentioned earlier, this sport has been taking off in Texas, and will grow even more in the next year.  

This was a crazy summer for a new Water Polo Club. We put our club together last August in Boerne since Comal had few restrictions, and we train at an outdoor pool. Club quickly grew from about 20 kids to 65 in May.  Most of the kids drive in from San Antonio.

I was able to take 3 teams to National Junior Olympics last week in Dallas. An 18U Boys team, a 16U Boys team, and a 16U girls team. There were close to 200 teams spread out across North Dallas. I was driving from Southlake, to Lewisville, to Garland every day. It was a beat down, but really fun. My kids got to play against teams from Oregon, Washington, Northern Illinois,  Hawaii, St. Louis, Connecticut, and Florida. 

Some of the more established clubs from Texas finished on top of the standings (Thunder from Dallas and Viper Pigeons from Houston stood out). 

Texas will be turning out some of the best Water Polo players in the country soon.  It's going to happen. 

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That's awesome to hear.  As I've posted before, I just couldn't believe when I moved to Texas from Illinois that there wasn't more of a water polo infrastructure.  Plenty of great swimmers here and people in Texas love to throw shit.  Even at UT, the intramural stuff was virtually non-existent.

Also a very underrated way for women to get a NCAA scholarship.  8 full rides and 13 partial rides per team.  Admittedly, there's not that many teams around the country though.  But good news is, the ones that exist are great freakin' academic schools.  

My daughter never cared to listen to dad talk about it when we were swimming.  We'd practice egg-beater and playing catch with our feet off the bottom.  Just to build up strength, not to pull an Uncle Rico, "Back in high school, Dad was real good at this.  What do you wanna bet I can throw this ball over this hotel?"  But she got really into it during the Olympics.  Her body type could make for a good driver or point.  She's a very good, but not great swimmer.  She's got a very good arm, but not great.  Good treader and good peripheral vision.  Obviously not gonna pressure into going down that road, but if you can play competitive water polo, you can sure as shit play softball or swim competitively.  Builds great endurance and you learn how to defeat your enemy under the table, when nobody else is looking.  

She asked me why I said, "How the fuck are the Balkans so good at this sport?"  I was gonna get into a whole eugenics thing.  

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  • 3 weeks later...

Welcome to Texas Shootout coming to San Antonio. Labor Day Weekend.  Initially this was supposed to happen Memorial Day weekend, which would have brought in more teams. As it stands, close to 50 teams coming to play. September 4th and 5th at NISD Aquatic Center on 1604. 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Snapped a cool photo prior to the start of the tournament on Saturday morning. We had 2 tanks going outside and 2 inside. My girls team was able to have a friendly scrimmage with Rocky Mountain Neptune out of Bolder on Friday night. Really strong team. 

NISD Polo.jpg

Edited by Chico_SA
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  • 8 months later...
Posted (edited)

After 50 years, TISCA Water Polo crowned their last champions a couple of weeks ago. St. Marks Boys and Flower Mound Girls. 

Now the sport is officially UIL and will pick back up on August 1st.  When I played there were maybe 40 teams in Texas.  St. Mark's was around back then, but not yet the power they are now.  Unfortunately for them, they aren't UIL.  Check out the Alignment now and the number of teams. 

 

 

St. Marks TISCA.jpg

Flower Mound TISCA.jpg

 

Texas UIL Alignments.pdf

Edited by Chico_SA
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The UIL thing is just a way to stop getting beaten by nerds. 

They’ll probably go after Lacrosse as well, where Hockaday won the state title. 

This happened in wrestling too. 

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  • 2 months later...
Posted (edited)

After a one year Covid delay, tomorrow is the big start day for UIL Water Polo.

I just got back from 5 days at National Junior Olympics in Dallas and my voice is shot, so tomorrows practice will be interesting.  Talked to quite a few coaches about the upcoming season, and there is definitely lots of excitement building. It's an opportunity for us to really bring some recognition to the sport on our campuses, even though most of us have been playing for years.  

This past year, I was a part of the US Olympic Development coaching staff for the Southwest Zone and I will tell you that there are some strong athletes coming out of Texas.  Several were selected to attend the National Camp, and although non made the final Youth National team, the potential for Texas athletes is evident. We just already have such strong aquatics programs and athletes. 

Edited by Chico_SA
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Posted (edited)

USA Water Polo covered the big day. Two of my players were first up on the interviews
 

 

 


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

 

 

Edited by Chico_SA
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  • 2 months later...

That's a wrap on District Play for Texas' first UIL Season.  Playoffs start the week of October 10th with Bi-District.  Such a different energy this year now that we are UIL.  We had local media coverage and much more exposure around campus. Pretty cool.

My girls team finished 1st in District and boys were 2nd.  Girls have the best shot at making a run at Regional Finals.  For the boys, Boerne Champion(lots of club players I coached over the past two years)  is the clear favorite. They aren't ranked because I'm guessing their coach hasn't entered them in the system. I think they could surprise someone at State. 

Current Rankings according to MaxPreps....  

Girls 1. Foster 2. Southlake Carrol 3. Cypress Creek 4. Brazoswood 5. Flower Mound 6. SA Brandeis (who we have a chance to play at Regional Finals if we put it all together) 

Boys 1. Brazoswood 2. Highland Park 3. St. Marks ( ineligible for UIL playoffs .) 4. Marcus 5. Southlake Carrol 6. Dawson 7. Cypress Creek 8. Strake Jesuit  

 

Get out and check out a game.  Kids are true athletes and they work hard. 

 

 

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