Thursday, September 26, 2019


BY USA DIVING | SEPT. 26, 2019, 2:33 P.M. (ET)

INDIANAPOLIS – USA Diving announced Thursday that Terry Bassett has been named the organization’s Chief Executive Officer. Bassett, who will begin his new role on October 1, will bring more than 20 years of management experience encompassing finance, marketing, operations and revenue generation.

“I am honored to have this opportunity with USA Diving. This is an exciting time for the organization, and I am committed to supporting our athletes in every way possible as we look forward to Tokyo and beyond,” Bassett said. “I am excited to work with the diving community to grow the sport and promote a safe environment for our members.”

His career experience also includes stops at several other privately owned, non-profit and publicly traded entertainment/sports properties, including the NFL Miami Dolphins, NASCAR/International Speedway Corp., Roger Penske’s Motorsports Division, Professional Bull Riders, and most recently with Nitro Circus.

He has a solid record of success in client relationship cultivation, membership growth/retention, interpersonal communication at all levels, and coordination of teams, with a proven record in staff management, development and leadership of up to 90-plus people.

“We are delighted to have selected Terry from the list of dozens of qualified candidates. He has a proven track record of success in several positions which require similar skills, knowledge, and abilities,” said Dave Gascon, Chair of USA Diving’s Board of Directors. “We have been very impressed by his diligence in working with our outgoing acting CEO Jack Perkins and staff as he gets up to speed.  We look forward to Terry hitting the ground running on October 1.”

Bassett is originally from Bowling Green, Ohio, and now lives in Colorado Springs, Colo., with his wife, Michelle, and their three children, 18-year-old Nicholas, a college basketball student-athlete, and 15-year-old twins Isabella and Logan. He enjoys sports, fishing, sports cars, coaching youth sports and most importantly spending time with his family.

A nationwide search to fill the CEO position was conducted and led by Chip Novick of Boyden Executive Search.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019


Dr. Julian Stein passed away on Sunday, September 22, 2019. He was ISHOF’s 1999 John K. Williams Jr. Adaptive Aquatic Award Winner.
Stein became known internationally for his contributions in the area of physical fitness for individuals with mental and physical disabilities. Devoted to his work for many years, the demand for his services took him around the world, speaking, writing, consulting and conducting workshops for professionals in the field.
Photo Courtesy: ISHOF
In April 1965, the Kennedy Foundation-AAHPER committees began work on organizing year-round national fitness programs for people with intellectual disabilities. Dr. Stein was appointed chairman of the task force on these programs and was the author of the ground-breaking work on “Adapted Physical Education for the Educable Mentally Handicapped,” Journal of Health, Physical Education and Recreations, December 1962. Dr. Stein had been working with students with disabilities in Arlington, Virginia, in the 1950s.
The following year, (1966-1968) the Kennedy Foundation appointed him full-time director of the AAHPER program under direction of the JPK Jr. Foundation.
Dr. Stein was one of several national leaders who helped to insure the inclusion of physical education and recreation in what was called the Mental Retardation Facilities and Construction Act of 1969. In addition, the U.S. Department of Education regularly sought his counsel in developing rules and regulations for the Education of all Handicapped Children Act (PL 94-142).
Following his work as Director of the AAHPER program, he became Executive Director of the Unit on Programs for the Handicapped (1968-81).
Through the years, Stein has helped hundreds of young professionals in initiating programs of physical education, recreation, and athletics for the disabled.
Susan Grosse of the Milwaukee Public Schools, who has known Dr. Stein for more than 20 years said about Stein: “There is no one in adapted physical education today who does not owe a portion of his/her success to Dr. Stein. He always took time to exchange ideas, talk, encourage, demonstrate, and console.”
Dr. Julian Stein’s achievements were formally recognized in 1989, when he was awarded the R. Tait McKenzie Award by AAHPERD and was named one of the 10 recipients of the U.S. Jaycees’ Healthy American Fitness Leaders Award before receiving the John K. Williams, Jr. Adapted Aquatic Award from the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1999.
After 10 years of teaching in the Department of Health, Sport, and Leisure Studies at George Mason University, and 16 years of service to AAHPERD, Dr. Stein retired at the end of 1990. He and his wife, Carolyn, spent the final years of his retirement in Oliver Springs, Tennessee.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019


Sunday Essay – Swimming Finding Its Mojo
Two weeks to the start of a new era. Expects bumps, turbulence, settling in, fun, thrills, spills and something new. Don’t expect an overnight leap for swimming in the pecking order of sports, professional or otherwise, at the heart of a trillion-dollar-a-year sports industry.
For swimmers and swimming this first season of the International Swimming League progress can already be measured before racing begins: swimmers, not just Olympic champions but swimmers deep down the ranks of the best in the world, will have access to a regular season of wage-earning racing.
The format matters: it’s about team, the emphasis not on the individual and not on a winner-takes-all culture of one or two big peak moments a year, the Olympic final the only moment that draws the wider audience in to a sport that has been sliding down the ‘who cares’ ranks more than it has cared to admit in between the only event that has ever mattered to the bigger crowd: the Olympic Games.
Olympic culture comes with a demand to be at the peak of peaks once every four years; to have the world record in your sights and know that the world expects that because that is how swimming has long sold itself; and a format that means the very best in the world often go unseen, unheard of beyond their backyard pool.
Two swimmers per nation has, for many generations, meant that all but the top two in any country got a shot at the big stage, a shot at any real recognition for their skills and speed at all in many cases.
World rankings history confirms that the world top 10, top 20, in any passing season has long been flooded with Americans, Australians and others who were 3rd, 6th, 7th, 9th, etc., in the world. However, they never got to race in global waters. Calls for FINA to recognise that and make the World Championships a place where the best 20 (for example), from wherever they came, had a right to a place at the global showcase, fell one deaf ears.
Why? The reality is that two Americans or 10 Americans in the water makes no difference to the votes at Congress and the top table: the USA still gets the two governance votes in common with all those other well-known swim nations such as Anguilla, Andorra, Burundi, Benin, Congo, CuraƧao … run the letters … Kuwait … and on through the alphabet to Tonga, Togo, Togo, Vanuatu, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Uruguay, Yemen and Zambia.
There are 209 FINA member nations. Outside the top 40, 50 at a stretch, you’re looking at teams with more officials than world-class swimmers, and often more officials than athletes full-stop, period.
So, for the votes, no need to consider the third best swimmer in the world if he or she happens to come from a powerhouse of swimming. “World” does not mean world-class in FINA world: it means “universal”, not “excellent”.
Galling, that, for those swimmers who attend college in the USA from home programs and nations such as Australia, Britain, Canada, Germany and beyond and know that much slower college teammates from other countries are off to the Olympics one summer, the Worlds the next. And that in the midst of international careers two or more Olympic cycles deep that bring recognition as “an Olympian” for never getting past a heats swim while their American college teammates, world top 5 and 10 swimmers back home, stay home.

The World Cup is Dead

The World Cup had a chance to be a terrific vehicle for change and promoting the sport in between Games. Ultimately, under the dead hand of FINA control, it failed to fulfil its potential as a showcase and shop window for world-class swimming, complete with a guarantee of a wage and the chance for swimmers to capitalise on their  careers in the pool.
Neither FINA nor domestic federations properly backed the cup, invested in the cup, debated through what the cup should be to provide a different format, a different take on swimming, one that would benefit athletes, in that between-Olympics zone.
Debbie Meyer – Photo Courtesy: International Swimming Hall of Fame ISHOF)
Shane Gould – Photo Courtesy: Kevin Berry/Swimming World Archive
A World Cup in name only, the participation event is dead as far as promoting swimming through excellence goes (read more in the October edition of Swimming World Magazine).
At recent rounds of the event, the world record that Shane Gould set for women over 1500m freestyle in 1973 would have been good for fifth place in the men’s race at something called a World Cup. The class of ’64, with Donna de Varona and Don Schollander, the class of ’68, with Debbie Meyer and Mike Wenden, and on through Mark Spitz, past Mary T and Janet E, Tamas Darnyi, Krisztina Egerszegi and down the stream of superstars of their era: all of those greats would have made finals in the FINA 2019 World Cup.
Little wonder that we arrive at a moment in just under two weeks from today when the ISL will stage its first show of eight international, branded, teams stocked and stacked with more of the very best swimmers in the world than the World Cup has managed to attract in more than 20 years under FINA control.
Bottom line: the athletes want it; a very wealthy man called Konstantin Grigorishin harnessed ideas long out there in the swim world but ignored by FINA and added his own twist to that vision, putting his money where his mouth has been. The ISL challenges the notion that swimming will only even be a sport for Olympic heights once every four years; the time was right and ripe.

The Trick Is Team, A Different Mindset, Expectation and … A Pay Packet

The trick is team, with some other essential ingredients in the mix. The ISL has created a new home for world-class swimming by:
  • getting rid of flags, creating new banners under which swimmers from many nations can compete;
  • placing emphasis on teams not individuals;
  • promising a 50:50 share of all revenues with athletes and teams;
  • creating a season that fits training schedules aimed at the big championship moments;
  • pointing out to swimmers that they have rights and should have a say in the way their sport is shaped;
And through legal challenge that has shown FINA it can no longer bully athletes and others into submission.
That new home includes a new direction, new opportunities for swimmers, new stages, showcases and a shop window, complete with the potential for branded merchandise and dedicated shops and a market for … not FINA but SWIMMING. Broadcasters and other media – as well as swimmers an d coaches and all concerned, audience, too, can look forward to a show that means a few hours of entertainment, not endless hours of endless racing, all day and all weekend long in formats that make the eyes gaze over just reading the start list.
At last: relief from all that, all the things that the late Nick Thierry, father of world rankings and creator of SwimNews, called “athlete abuse”. Extend that to whole-family and audience abuse, too. The Olympic program is great at the Olympics,. It needed not ruin lives and prospects between Games.
Wealthy private investors have been a part of changes in sport such as that unfolding in the pool in various sports down the decades. Tennis (in which the weakest player on Grand Slam Tour earns more money in an average year than the vast majority of swimmers see from their sport in a lifetime) is a case in point. Swimbledon ahoy.

Keeping The Young In; Bringing Old Stars Back To Shine Once More

L’Equipe pointed to many of these issues in a piece this weekend, James Gibson, head coach to one of the eight ISL pro-teams, Energy (backed for several years as an international club by Grigorishin, head of the Energy Standard utility/power concern), telling the premier French sports paper:
“Olympic sports suffer stiff competition with the emergence of X-Games or e-sports. To survive and continue to attract young people, we had to change things.”
To attract big stars back into the water, too. Gibson’s charge, Florent Manaudou, 2012 Olympic 50m freestyle champion and a multiple World champion since then, retired after silver at Rio 2016. Silver. Who cares? Well, many in swimming do but even Flo-Mo got it: Olympic silver after vast hours and weeks and months and years of dedication to the black line won’t keep you in Ferraris, nor even Renaults, for the rest of your life.
Unless, of course, you are one of those rare cases that leap-frog universality, make it to excellent and become a hero forever-more in nations that look at the tally of Michael Phelps and know they won’t get there in 1,000 years of swimming.
Manaudou tells L’Equipe:
“Our sport needed top be dusted down. It was no longer viable to be a swimmer. The best are surviving with their sponsors but it is not normal to train like crazy for hours and hours and earning 1,500 euros when you are between the 8th and 16th in the world, for example.”
Ryan Murphy – Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant
Precisely the point Grigorishin made after watching USA double Olympic backstroke champion Ryan Murphy at a social event of many stars from many sports. He noticed that fans asking for autographs of Pro-Sports athletes simply ignored the swimmer. They just didn’t know who he was.
Grigorishin turned to Murphy and asked “are you stupid?” – before explaining that Murphy could live by a different law and have his skills and speed recognised, celebrated more often in formats that did not demand world records of him for a decent return and turned into income. He told Murphy:
“You should be earning a wage, raising your market value, capitalising on being the very best in the world in a great sport.”
L’Equipe made other points, noting that the ISL will have no heats and other aspects of the traditional championship program. Here is how the French paper put it:
“So ends [with the ISL] the endless and boring series of small morning moments followed in the afternoon by semi-finals or finals for those at the top level”.
Again: boring series of small morning moments. Recognise it? I do. How many four-hour prelims sessions have swimmers and swimming families and coaches sat through down the decades? Far too many. While some say that’s part of what swimming’s about, others point out that even if that is the case, such things, like a set of 10x1000m swims in training, are best held in the privacy of your own company not shared with the world as an example of what swimming is about.
And all of that has gone on alongside an obsession with the clock. How about the … pure racing?
The ISL will use a team points system. In each race, first home (regardless of what the clock reads) gets the big points. It’ll be not far from the format that makes the NCAAs in the USA such a thrilling event. The fact that then rest of the world doesn’t care too much about any of that comes down to amateur rules and the yards pools not conducive to climbing over the ‘who cares’ threshold to a world beyond established audience.
“The vocabulary is important,” Gibson tells L’Equipe. “There’ll be many team matches against teams [knockout style]. The mood is completely different with that emphasis on the individual.”
Adam Peaty has noted that in this first season of the ISL alone, “a swimmer could earn $120 000”. For racing at  four weekends (there rounds and a final as max demand) and helping their team to lift the top prize of almost $500,000, which in turn will be used to develop teams, their brands, their marketing, the net work and market value of swimmers and pay decent wages to swimmers down the ranks of the world’s best 5, 10, 15 and even 20. A structure to sustain an industry, to sustain professionals within that industry at the heart of that annual trillion-dollar marketplace.
Katie Ledecky – Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant
Federica Pellegrini of Italy celebrates after winning in the women’s 200m Freestyle Final during the Swimming events at the Gwangju 2019 FINA World Championships, Gwangju, South Korea, 24 July 2019.
Federica Pellegrini. Photo Courtesy: Patrick B. Kraemer
Little wonder we find Manaudou, Peaty, Federica Pellegrini, Katinka Hosszu, Caeleb Dressel, Nathan Adrian, Sarah Sjostrom and one of the all-time greats of swimming history, Katie Ledecky, among those signed up as ambassadors and racers on the first global pro-teams in swim history. Then there’s the likes of Michael Andrew, Tom Shields, Vladimir Morozov and others who have proven themselves as tough-as-it-comes on multiple race day in the short-course pool.
Their presence shows not only their desire to earn a living for themselves but create an environment in which many more of their teammates also start to earn a living from the sport in which they excel.
Of course, all of those swimmers named above are far enough out in the outer-orbit of super-excellence to capitalise from their swimming through old models that are still available to them, still part of the Olympic model.

Schooling In Lessons Old

Rohit Brijnath, at The Straits Times, points to the other way swimmers, only those who achieve what has been the ultimate prize in the pool, Olympic gold, have earned their money (and will continue to do so).
In his piece headed “The Professionals: Eking out a career in sports: Joseph Schooling; A model champion keeps a fine balance”, Brijnath highlights the commitment required by the Olympic 100m butterfly champion and other athletes beyond their day jobs if they want to capitalise on the many hours and weeks and months and years of largely hidden effort in the pool – not to mention the vast commitment of parents, coaches and local programs scarcely mentioned come the gun and gold.
Here’s an extract from Brijnath:
What does it mean to be a professional athlete in Singapore? The Straits Times takes a hard look at the lives of some of the country’s sportsmen and women who earn a living doing what they love in this weekly series that ends today. He needs total focus in training and races but must manage multiple roles out of the water
Joe joseph-schooling-
Joe Schooling – Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick
Joseph Schooling is being lightly coated with the paint of stardom. A little bit of foundation, a little spray on his hair. He yawns in his chair and laughs: “You never get used to make-up.” His life is usually a stripped-down existence, just swimming briefs and goggles, a lonely lane and a clock. But this morning is another world and his second life.
For four hours he’s like a human mannequin, changing clothes and holding poses, a man of sweat in a room of designer cool as he models Hugo Boss’ autumn/winter collection. Is this fun? Perhaps. Mostly it’s a champion earning a living.
In a darkened room, music throbs and Tim White, a photographer flown down from Los Angeles, takes fashionable aim.
Click. Click. Click.
It’s the sound of professionalism.
Ten shots, 100, 500. Photographers are as demanding as coaches, just politer. “Lose yourself,” White tells Schooling who, as an athlete, is a creature of control. Still, he tries.
It’s a relentless morning but his easy charm doesn’t extinguish. During one quick break, he posts a shot of himself drinking Milo on Instagram where he has 168,000 followers. Every minute he’s either swimmer, role model, son or star.
He has eight sponsors and if he roughly earns over a million dollars a year then he deserves it because he’s shown us that Singaporeans can be scholars of the pool. He’s entitled to it because he committed himself to a life of unthinkable odds where on a given day, which comes only every four years, he crossed a pool – using a butterfly stroke – faster than anyone on this planet.
When Joseph and his parents, May and Colin, began their quest, it was only for gold, not money. “It (money) was the furthest thing from my mind,” says Colin now. “We never, ever thought of it.” Then he laughs and adds, aware of a swimmer’s limited earning potential: “If I have grandchildren I would tell them to take up golf or tennis.”
Schooling’s challenge is to perfectly compartmentalise his life. Be ready to stride a catwalk, yet find enough hours to sleep. He knows, if he’s not fast enough for long enough no one will pay him enough. And so even on a modelling day he’s disciplined about what he eats – chicken rice, no skin or bones; extra chicken or spaghetti Bolognese; blueberries and coconut water.
Balance underpins it all, says Schooling, who managed to navigate the U.S. college system and its amateur laws while making sure he had access to the riches Olympic gold can bring. Balance is harder to achieve, he suggests, telling the Straits Times:
“It’s the key in an athlete’s life. Balance is also one of the hardest things to attain.”
That’s what ISL managers and agents and coaches are therefore: their roles includes knowing how to navigate the need to be seen, the need to race for team, the need to fit that into training and preparation for the big championship season and the moment of “expectation” in any Olympic season. None of that is not about to wither on the vine. Says Schooling:
” … those expectations come from what you see on TV. But on TV you only see pro athletes when they’re playing their game, doing what they do best. You don’t see the other side of things, what they are doing 99 per cent of the time. The only time you realise this is when you’re going through it yourself.”
As Brijnath puts it with a nod to the difference in being from Singapore or the United States, say, as a swimmer:
“He’s had to learn to be a master juggler, adroitly managing body, fame, sleep, technique, pressure, pals, cameras, fans, exhaustion, dreams. His life cannot only be water and yet water has to always be first. Greatness asks for a hard price, it’s why very few get there. Schooling exerts a sort of irresistible force, we’re drawn to him because there’s only one of him. Strangers, media, politicians, sponsors, everyone wants a word with him. It’s a lovely affection but it’s also tiring, stealing away his time of which he has only so much.”
Schooling says that “saying ‘no’ is hard. You don’t want to be rude, but you’ve got to do what’s best for you. If they really support you, they will understand.” His manager, Ronda Ng, who says ‘no’ for him.

What If You Got Paid Just Because You’re Among The Fastest Swimmers Ever …

Meanwhile, swimmers will soon be earning money not as side-show, role model and promoter and bringer of feel-good factor after Olympic gold, but as … swimmers.
Posters for the ISL season ahead Photo Courtesy: ISL
Make no mistake: there will be challenges ahead, lessons for all concerned, the ISL’s organisers and visionaries included. Season 1 has already shown where steep improvements can and should be made even before the switch is flicked on the super-troupers and the stars of the show march out to their blocks to team chants and cheers in the bold new brands and colours of their international, multi-nation teams.
What will count in Indianapolis the week and weekend after next is that the show unfolds without visible hitch (there were hitches behind the scenes at every major meet I’ve ever been to), that the new shop window for swimmers and swimming is an eye-catcher, that team characters and profiles of swimmers, coaches and managers start to emerge.
And, most significantly, that swimmers (and coaches and managers) leave for the next round buoyed by a thought that many generations before them have barely been able to dream about: that was terrific fun, lessons learned on tactics and racing – and I’m actually getting a share of the dividend accruing from my efforts, I’m actually earning a living from the thing I’m world-class at, hard work honouring gift, talent and the support o all those who contribute to the process of unlocking the very best in the very best.

More Reading And Listening On Swimmers Heading For ISL Action:

In the lead-up to the first International Swimming League pro-team season, Swimming World is taking a look at some of the pioneers of a new chapter unfolding in the sport. 

Pioneers Of Pro-Team Swimming


Leo Yuno and all the Gauchos have enjoyed a fantastic start to the 2019 NCAA season -
Photo Courtesy: Jeff Liang
BROOKLYN, NY. After a string of eye-opening developments—UC Santa Barbara beating #1 teams twice in one week and Cal losing three times in the season’s first two weekends, including to UC Davis for the first time in four decades—it seems right to delve into what’s going on with men’s water polo. And correct a wrong impressions about the Western Water Polo Association (WWPA).

Big Four No More?

Two weekends ago, USC (4-1) lost decisively to UCSB. Not only was it the mighty Trojans’ first loss to the Gauchos since 1990—a streak of 55 straight—they also dropped a match on their opening weekend for the first time since 1994. Last Thursday, the Gauchos beat Stanford, which had assumed top ranking from USC.
Adding to the Pac-12’s angst: Cal (7-3) has already lost three games to non-Pac-12 opponents—meaning five losses by MPSF team that constitute the “Big Four”—Cal, Stanford, UCLA, USC—in the first two weeks of the season.
To put this in context, in the three years since five teams bolted the MPSF for the Golden Coast Conference (GCC) prior to the 2016 season, members of the Big Four had lost five times to non-Pac-12 opponents. Three of those losses came in 2016, when Stanford was beaten three times; twice to Pacific and once by UCSB.
Stanford’s Ben Hallock; a hat trick against UCSB is not enough. Photo Courtesy: Bryan Williams
It’s perhaps convenient to point to the mercurial rise of of the Gauchos—with six wins over CWPA Top Ten opponents in a blistering 13-0 start to its season—but the overall gap between the Big Four and their non-MPSF opponents does appear to be narrowing. This weekend, Cal had to go to overtime to beat San Jose State 13-11. UCLA—which perhaps has an unblemished record (6-0) because they have yet to face the Gauchos—went down 5-1 to #6 Pepperdine on Saturday at home before rallying for a 14-12 win.
It’s still early in the season, but the losses that Pac-12 teams have suffered in 2019 are at least noteworthy—and the losing may continue in the 2019 MPSF Invitational, this weekend at UCLA’s Spieker Aquatics Center.

Slaying the Trojans and the Cardinal

The news out of Claremont for USC’s opening weekend was stunning. The mighty Trojans were derailed by a determined (and obviously talented) Gaucho group. Two months from now, it may not mean anything—especially for USC, which so far this season has missed Marko Vavic and Sawyer Rhodes, mainstays of last year’s national champion. Also missing: uber freshman Stefan Vavic. Reports suggest that Rhodes may struggle to return this season; if their issues are tied to an NCAA investigation of the program—which at the moment can only be speculated about—the Vavic brothers may not play at all.
Even if the program gets Marko back and his brother in the water, their father’s absence has to impact USC recruiting. If there’s one thing that Jovan was known for, it was his ability to entice foreign prospects to Troy. Last year there were four foreign freshmen on the USC men’s roster, including Australia’s Nic Porter, who emerged as the Trojan’s top goalie. This doesn’t include Jacob Mercep, the Serbian lefty who was enticed to USC by the prospect of a national championship—and became the Trojans leading scorer and 2018 NCAA final MVP.
For 2019? No foreign-born freshmen. Some may cheer this development; most would subscribe to the reality in NCAA polo that foreign athletes are difference makers.
Marko and Jovan Vavic after the 2018 NCAA final—a long time ago… Photo Courtesy: Catharyn Hayne
One needs look no further then UCSB, which was led last fall by Serbian Boris Jovanovic (77goals) and is now getting major contributions from senior Ivan Gvozdanovic, also of Serbia, as well as Sam Nangle of Australia and Tiago Bonchristiano of Brazil. Gvozdanovic and Nangle have been key factors in two Gaucho wins over #1 teams in a week—a remarkable accomplishment by any stretch.
Wolf Wigo’s team may have surprised the Trojans, but there’s no way they should have caught the Cardinal (6-1) by surprise last week—or, maybe they did because the Gauchos (13-0) broke out to a 6-1 lead on their way to a convincing 15-10 victory at Avery Aquatic Center. Leading the way was Leo Yuno, a (perhaps) unheralded attacker who scored three of those first six goals and assisted on two of them on his way to a seven-point afternoon (four goals, three assists).
Stanford rebounded against UC Davis on Saturday, taking a 16-8 win over the Aggies; The Cardinal may get another shot at the Gauchos at the MPSF Invite, but there’s no dismissing the huge implications of UCSB’s back-to-back conquests of #1 teams: it’s an impressive body of early season work that should give the Gauchos at least a share of the top spot in the polls this week.

UC Davis captures an historic victory

If the Trojans were tripped up by the Gauchos, it looks like Cal early on fell into a deep hole, especially against UC Davis. Losing to UCSB at the Triton Invitational in the first week of the season now seems understandable. Much harder to explain: a 16-13 OT loss to the Aggies—for the first time in more than anyone can remember.
The only record available is the Cal website, which has entries that date back to 2000. Over a span of 19 years—and 27 matches—Cal had not lost to their regional rival. But, UC Davis Head Coach Dan Leyson believes it may be much longer—as far back as 1976. After his team’s win against a Cal program that has represents a standard of excellence in the Bay Area, Leyson cited a total team effort.
– Quotes courtesy of Jason Spencer, UC Davis Assistant Director, Athletics Communications
“We had balanced scoring we had some guys step up and have hat tricks in the game and those guys had been working so hard, and trying so hard, and it hasn’t been happening for them and it finally paid off that game. Also, really timely goalkeeper play. There were a couple instances where we were exposed and, in that moment, Jonah (Addington) stepped up — especially in overtime — and made two huge steals where he was more aggressive in coming out. I think that was a big step. We need great goalkeeper play and we had it in that game and the result shows.
“I’m so happy for them. It feels great and I’m happy for the guys because they wanted it so bad but, you know what? It’s one game and it’s early in the season and we’ve talked about it already. Is this going to be our high point for the season? We’ve already learned about complacency and the negative things that come along with winning. Not everything that comes along with winning is positive and we’ve learned from that and we’re aware of that. So, we’re just going to keep going forward.”
Leyson also added this thought, which may have been most telling: “It was just an overall team feeling that felt better in that game. Now, the question is, can we keep that going?”
The answer this weekend was “No.” The Aggies (5-4) dropped a 14-10 decision to the Golden Bears on Sunday at their own tournament, a day after getting beat 16-8 by Stanford at Davis. In truth, beating Cal, or Stanford or any other non-conference opponent means relatively little in the bigger picture; what does count is how UC Davis does against Western Water Polo Association (WWPA) rivals, in particular, UC San Diego.
Victory after 40 years! UC Davis’ Dan Leyson celebrates. Photo Courtesy: Catharyn Hayne
In their first weekend of play Leyson’s squad dropped a 12-8 decision to the Tritons; luckily it was a non-conference match-up, but UCSD was missing Kacper Langiewicz, a senior center who has been nursing an injury early on—but should be back in the water on November 9th, when the two teams who have split the WWPA title the last six years meet in their final regular season match before the WWPA tournament.

The Tritons are NOT going anywhere

If UC Davis fans had hopes that their biggest obstacle to an NCAA berth might be going away, they—and this columnist—were sadly mistaken. Despite a move to NCAA Division I status, and an almost total migration to the Big West Conference that will be completed by 2020, the Tritons will be staying put in the WWPA for the foreseeable future.
This was confirmed by Steve Doten, WWPA Commissioner; it makes sense because UCSD has grown comfortable getting to the NCAA tournament through the conference’s automatic berth—even though the conference is meant to be a haven for DII programs. the reality is more than half of its members on the men’s side are Division I programs. For the Aggies to get back to the big show this December, they’ll need to beat the Tritons—and maybe a resurgent Loyola Marymount program.

Fordham, beast (and best) of the East?

Harvard has gotten off to a fast (9-0) start, Bucknell has perhaps the best player (Rade Joksimovic) and La Salle (5-8) has demonstrated it’s no longer a bottom-feeder. But the real surprise team of the East has been Fordham. They’ve beaten #14 (T) Bucknell and #16 St. Francis, and pushed #12 Harvard in an 11-8 loss at the Princeton Invitational. At 9-2 and already 3-0 in the Mid-Atlantic Water Polo Conference (MAWPC), the Rams, whose polo players do not receive athletic scholarships, are off to a fantastic start, including a 4-0 sweep last weekend at the Bison Invitational.
Leading the way for Head Coach Bill Harris’ squad has been Jake Miller-Tolt, who will finish his career in the Bronx as the Rams’ all-time leading scorer. Helping out on both ends of the ball has been Oscar Nomura, who transferred this summer from MAWPC rival Wagner.
Fordham’s Bill Harris, Oscar Nomura and Brian Bacharach. Photo Courtesy: M. Randazzo
At the Navy Invitational, Nomura talked about moving from one New York City program to another.
“I had an epiphany over winter break. I was going to get stick with a major that I didn’t want. I really wanted to do a bachelor of science. Coming to Fordham and doing Environmental Science, which is not a program at Wagner, was my best move. Water polo-wise, this team and the culture fit me better than Wagner did.”
– You were a founding member of the Seahawk men’s program—and now you’ve moved literally to the other side of the city to play for the Rams.
“Those guys are my best friends—I spent pretty much every waking minute with them. It was definitely the toughest decision that I ever made.
“I still think about it but in the end, I think I made the right decision for me personally.”
– Chris Radmonovich, who recruited you to Wagner, has left the Seahawks.
“I got a text from one of my buddies at Wagner about Chris stepping down and I was in complete shock. I could never image that happening—it was surreal to me.
“You can’t look back. We have a really good team here and I’m ready to move forward.”
And so the Rams have. Next up: George Washington, back-to-back MAWPC title-holders, come to the Bronx on Saturday.