March 27, 2013
By Angela Kraus
If the colleges you’re thinking about attending don’t have intercollegiate varsity water polo programs, or if you decide to not compete in intercollegiate sports, how about participating in club programs at the schools you are considering? Many colleges sponsor club water polo programs (in some cases, more than one per school) that compete with similar clubs from other schools.
The club practice and travel schedules usually aren’t as intense or time consuming as those of the intercollegiate programs, which leave students more time for studies and other activities. It’s not uncommon that varsity players switch from their schools’ intercollegiate squads to club teams in order to correct scheduling conflicts between varsity practice and game schedules and academic obligations. Plus, if a player isn’t getting enough pool time on the varsity team, why devote all those hours when you could get more with a club team?
In addition, some colleges start club programs to gauge interest in and test the viability of a sport before introducing or committing it to the varsity level—or simply to continue offering a sport that was phased out the varsity level, possibly due to funding restrictions.
The Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) organizes club water polo and maintains lists of men’s and women’s club water polo programs at colleges all over the United States—even at schools with intercollegiate teams:
* There are 17 men’s regions.
* Teams in each region play a full schedule of games during the fall season, which corresponds to the intercollegiate men’s season.
* The men’s club season culminates with two championships—the National Collegiate Club Championships and the Division III Collegiate Club Championship, both held in November. (For example, in 2011, USC won the Men’s National Club Championships, beating Yale 8-5.)
* There are 13 women’s regions, offering a full schedule of games during the spring, which corresponds to the intercollegiate women’s season, culminating in the Women’s National Collegiate Club Championship. (UC Davis won the 2012 Women’s National Club Championships, beating Cal Poly San Luis Obispo 2-1.)
* National all-tournament teams are named at the conclusion of the championships. Participants and teams also may be eligible to receive individual and team recognition for academic achievements by being named to the CWPA Collegiate Club Scholar Athlete teams.
To find out if the college(s) you’re interested in have club teams and who to contact for information about the program, visit http://www.collegiatewaterpolo.org/membership/teams/mensclub/index or http://www.collegiatewaterpolo.org/membership/teams/womensclub/index. Also check your college’s Web site for information about available club programs. You can visit http://www.collegiatewaterpolo.org/club/composite (men) and http://www.collegiatewaterpolo.org/club/wwaterpolo/composite (women) for sample schedules.
Most programs are self-funded by participants, but they may receive funding from their sponsor schools as well.
Finally, don’t overlook on-campus intramural sports opportunities which may include water polo. Intramural programs are encouraged and funded by most colleges.
Collegiate club teams offer opportunities to travel and play water polo while you’re in college at a relatively competitive level. It’s a good way to stay involved with the sport you love, stay in shape, meet people, and have fun. It also enables players to continue playing during the summer with their local club teams, and depending on the player’s age, to participate in USA Water Polo summer events such as Junior Olympics (18U, 21U) and the U.S. Open of Water Polo. Regardless of your skill level, your school may offer a club program that’s right for you.
This article was originally printed in the Fall 2012 issue of SkipShot Magazine.
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