Athletics News

USA Water Polo Announces Annual Award Winners To Be Honored On January 19 In Los Angeles

Huntington Beach, Calif. - January 8, 2013 - USA Water Polo is proud to announce our annual award winners for 2012. This year's recipients represent some of the best and brightest in the water polo community. The annual awards dinner is set for this January 19 at the LAX Crowne Plaza in Los Angeles, California in conjunction with the USA Water Polo Assembly. As established in 2010, the awards have each been named in honor of a person or persons who have made an extraordinary contribution to the sport. Winners were chosen through a zone nomination process and then reviewed by a national selection panel.

Tickets are still available for the awards dinner and can be purchased separately or included with registration for the annual assembly. Click here to secure your seat for January 19.  For more information on the USA Water Polo Annual Assembly, click here.

USA Water Polo Awards for 2012:

Monte Nitzkowski Distinguished Men's Coaching Award (Elite): Alex Rodriguez, Pomona-Pitzer Colleges

Sandy Nitta Distinguished Women's Coaching Award (Elite): Adam Krikorian, U.S. Olympic Women's Water Polo Team
Bill Barnett Distinguished Men's Coaching Award (Scholastic): Bob Greene, Golden State Aquatics
Doc Hunkler Distinguished Women's Coaching Award (Scholastic): Sam Bailey, Corona del Mar High School
Ted Newland Distinguished Men's Coaching Award (Developmental): Michael Goldenberg, South Florida Water Polo Club
Brent Bohlender Distinguished Women's Coaching Award (Developmental): Todd Halvorson, 680 Drivers
Bret Bernard Distinguished Referee Award (Elite): Steve Rotsart
Tom Hermstad Distinguished Referee Award (Scholastic): Levon Dermendjian  
Aaron Chaney Distinguished Referee Award (Developmental): Justin Nicholas
Barbara Kalbus Distinguished Volunteer Award: C.J. Ramirez, Rose Bowl Water Polo Club and Coastal California Zone

Burke/Ratkovic Zone Service Award: Sean Green, Pacific Southwest Zone

Technical Service Award: Richard Foster, FINA TWPC

Lifetime Service Award: James Stuart, San Diego Shores

Lifetime Service Award: Dr. Francis Judge, NYAC and Fordham University
Bryan Weaver Male Master of the Year Award: Gary Becker, Old Mission Bay Water Polo Club
Bryan Weaver Female Master of the Year Award: Jennie White, Oakland Water Polo
USA Water Polo Chairman's Cup: SOCAL Water Polo

Background On Award Namesakes:

Monte Nitzkowski is synonymous with men's water polo in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s serving as Head Coach of Men's Olympic Team in 1972, 1980, and 1984, leading Team USA to a bronze medal in 1972 and a silver medal in 1984. Nitzkowski also served as an Assistant Coach with the 1968 and 2000 Men's Olympic Team. Sandy Nitta is a pioneer for women's water polo, an Olympic swimmer as a teenager; Nitta segued to water polo and held the post as Head Coach of the Women's National Team during large parts of the 80s and 90s, leading Team USA to bronze medals at the 1986 and 1991 World Championships.  She was also instrumental in the creation of Commerce Aquatics, a groundbreaking program.

Bill Barnett, an outstanding high school coach at Newport Harbor High School, with 10 CIF boys championships and four girls championships, initiated and coached the first USA Men's Junior National Team, then picked up where Nitzkowski left off in the 1980s, guiding the Men's program to a silver medal at the 1988 Olympic Games and a gold medal at the 1991 World Cup. Meanwhile "Doc" Hunkler, three-times named National Collegiate Coach of the Year, was a visionary for women's water polo who fought to have a true national women's collegiate championship and helped guide the programs at Slippery Rock University to unprecedented heights spanning three decades, including ten top-three finishes and a national women's collegiate championship in 1995. Hunkler also holds the distinction as the only coach to win both a Men's and Women's Olympic Festival Gold Medal

Few have groomed more men for Olympic competition than Ted Newland. Entering the coaching scene in the late 1960s Newland turned the University of California-Irvine into a tenacious competitor, earning three NCAA titles as he coached well into the new millennium. Called by some the "godfather" of high school water polo in Northern California, Brent Bohlender's Women's Junior National Teams captured two bronze medals from 1984 to 1999; Bohlender amassed over 1,000 career victories on the scholastic circuit in his time at Johansen High School. Lastly on the club circuit, Bohlender's Modesto-Stanislaus club won 18 National Championships over 34 years.

Bernard, Hermstad, and Chaney all took US officiating to unparalleled heights during their time in the whites.  As a past president of USA Water Polo, Bernard also whistled the 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games and was the preeminent collegiate official for many years. Hermstad was a fixture at several Olympic Games whistling the 1972, 1976, 1984, and 1988 Olympic Games in addition to four World Championships and has worked tirelessly on behalf of water polo officials, helping to form the USA Water Polo National Referee Committee. Last but not least, Chaney capped an outstanding officiating career serving as the United States referee at the most recent Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008 as well as 2004 in Athens.

Current Masters Committee Chair Bryan Weaver works tirelessly for more playing opportunities while also piloting the boy's team at Brentwood High School. Long-time manager of the Men's National Team and holder of various offices since the incorporation of USA Water Polo, Barbara Kalbus continues to give back to the sport today, providing critical history for the USA Water Polo program and overseeing the official scoring table at various competitions.

Andy Burke and George Ratkovic fittingly serve as the namesake for the Zone Service Award; few have represented regional water polo with more dedication and compassion. Ratkovic, stalwart of Southern California and longtime Southern Pacific Zone Chair oversaw unprecedented growth in his zone; Burke, a beacon of Northern California's famed Olympic Club, has remained active in USA Water Polo Premier League and the National Tryout Series; he also served as the Team Manager at the 1964 Olympic Games.

About USA Water Polo
USA Water Polo, Inc. is the national governing body for water polo in America, overseeing our United States Olympic program as well as 20 different championship events annually, such as Junior Olympics and Masters Championships. With more than 35,000 members, USAWP is also the sanctioning authority for more than 400 tournaments nationwide. USAWP is committed to the development of the sport nationwide. It fosters grass-roots expansion of the sport, providing a national system of affiliated clubs, certified coaches and officials.



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