Athletics News

Shooting For College: Considering College Water Polo 2.0

Nov. 4, 2014

By Angela Kraus

Are you thinking about playing water polo in college? Navigating the maze of college entrance requirements can be daunting by itself; overlaying the athletic recruiting process can make it appear overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Over three years ago—in its continuing commitment to provide valuable services to its members—USA Water Polo launched Shooting for College, a column offering advice to demystify the process for students and their families, hopefully helping to relieve the stress and uncertainty that often accompanies this exciting time in the lives of student-athletes. Building on the interest generated by those articles, USAWP has also reached out to its membership by sponsoring and hosting live presentations, The Path to College Water Polo, conducted by the author of this column and various college coaches, in several USAWP zones. These presentations have focused on the academic and athletic preparation needed to become a viable prospective student-athlete and have been enthusiastically received. Stay tuned for announcements about one in your area.

In the meantime, a new group of readers is cycling through the college application process, and it’s time to update some of the information first presented several years ago. Based upon the many emails and phone calls received from readers, we are delighted this column has become a valuable resource throughout your college-preparation and athletic-recruiting process. Feel free to write if you have any questions.


Did you know that there are actually lots of schools where you can play collegiate water polo—not just the ones you always hear about (e.g., Stanford, Cal, UCLA, and USC)? Did you know that you don’t have to be an all-CIF championship player or varsity starter to participate in college sports? But you do have to be academically and athletically prepared to compete at the collegiate level. And remember to keep in mind: If playing intercollegiate sports isn’t your goal, have you considered playing club or intramural sports?

Begin your collegiate water polo career at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) website (; all intercollegiate college sports are governed by the NCAA. Take a look at the section entitled Student-Athlete Experience to get an overview of the eligibility requirements and the process.
Lists of all the collegiate men’s and women’s water polo programs available at schools throughout the United States are on the NCAA website:

* Just enter in the search box of your computer’s Internet browser.
* Click on Sports in the toolbar at the top.
* When the virtual notebook containing a list of NCAA Sports appears, “turn” the pages to Fall Sports for men’s water polo and Spring Sports for women’s water polo.
* Click on your choice—Division I, II, or III—and a list of programs will pop up. You’ll be amazed that there are currently 44 collegiate men’s water polo programs—22 in Division I programs, seven in Division II, and starting in Fall 2014, 15 in Division III. There are even more women’s programs—62 featuring water polo at the collegiate level: 33 in Division I, 12 in Division II, and starting in Fall 2014, 17 in Division III. You can click on any school listed and be linked directly to the school’s website for more information about the school and specific programs, including available majors.

You can also find the list, including coaches' names and contact information, on the USA Water Polo website. Visit, click on the community tab, then select College Directory from the dropdown menu—or just click on this link

There are two primary ways to determine if a school offers a desired major and water polo program. The broadest search can be performed via the College Search function on the College Board website ( This is the same website used to register for SAT tests. If you haven’t already registered, just complete the online registration and record your login information for future use. Once on the site, input your search criteria—in this case, major and sport (men’s or women’s water polo)—and any other desired criteria selected from the toolbar on the left side of the page. Then save your selections, select print results at the top right of the page, and see what comes up. The broadest form of the search will yield intercollegiate and club programs at two- and four-year public and private schools, so you can narrow it further from there if you like. As noted previously, another approach is once you’re on a school’s website, search it for majors offered. Compare the results of both methods for a comprehensive list of everything available.


To learn about a school’s academic profile, navigate to school’s home page to learn about the school—take a virtual tour and look at the admissions pages. Be sure to visit the current (or most recently available) freshman academic profile to see where you might slot into the academic community based on your grades and standardized test scores. Many colleges, particularly highly selective schools, require athletes to meet their minimum thresholds for admission; those thresholds are usually much higher than the minimums required for NCAA eligibility and such schools do not “dip” for athletes.

The NCAA website advises: “any college-bound student athlete should prepare for the academic side of college as though the athletics experience did not exist.” The message here is to build a solid high school academic record—take the most challenging courses you can manage, study hard, prepare for your standardized tests, and do your best in the classroom. Remember, athletics can help open doors, but it doesn’t replace classroom success


Call or write Angela Kraus (Zepfel) at (949) 644-7064 or

This article appeared in the Summer 2014 issue of SkipShot magazine




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