In the past decade, the Wesleyan Men’s Water Polo Club captured two titles and appeared in six Division III National Collegiate Club Championships. For their efforts, the Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) named the team the “Collegiate Club Division III Team of the Decade” for 2000-09.
Unlike many teams in their conference, the Wesleyan club runs its program without monetary or administrative support from the Department of Athletics. The students are coached by team captains, and occasionally a graduate student who has played on the team will coach without compensation. Nevertheless, the team won the 2004 and 2005 Division III Collegiate Club Championships, and placed second in this tournament in 2000, 2002, 2003, and 2006.
“We’re very proud of the accomplishments of our men’s water polo club team,” says John Biddiscombe, director of athletics and chair of the Physical Education Department. “A student-centered and directed team, it has had committed athletes and great student leadership over the decade. The members of this team have taken the sport very seriously and through hard work and dedication to the sport been able to accomplish an outstanding record. All at Wesleyan salute their efforts.”
Division III’s New England “Coach of the Year” Macauley “Mac” Clonan ’05, helped transform the program, bringing the club to a high level of competition. In 2006, the team was frequently ranked in the top 25 of all club water polo teams in the country. In 2007, Wesleyan joined the CWPA’s New England division, which includes Yale, Williams, Dartmouth, Boston College, Boston University and Middlebury. The division winner gets an automatic berth in the National Collegiate Club Championship.
“This award is a huge step forward for the program,” says former captain/coach Michael Pepi ’08. “We’re hoping that this distinction will bring even more attention to the program so that more of students will come and join the club and enjoy the great game of water polo.”
Pepi says he and fellow captain Josh Tanz ’07 left the program in good hands. 2009 captains Stephen Ranney ’10 and Andrew Jaycox ’10 “have done a great job of keeping the club moving in a positive direction,” Pepi says.
“The fact that we have achieved such incredible success without a coach to monitor games, oversee practices from an authoritative position, or handle day-to-day administration is a testament to the strength of our team,” says Jaycox. “It requires a tremendous amount of team unity, commitment, and sacrifice to compete at our level in the manner that we do.”
The water polo season begins in early September and ends in early November. During this time, the team holds practices from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and Saturday afternoons in the Wesleyan Natatorium. The club emphasizes water polo fundamentals with players of all skill levels and experience.
The game is played with six outfielders and one goalkeeper per team. Players push a water polo ball in front of them or throw the ball across the pool to a teammate. Like in basketball or hockey, opponents block passes and try to regain control of the ball. A team attempts to throw the ball into the opponent’s net for a goal.
Practices are open to all undergraduate and graduate male students, and consist of swimming, drills, strategy, lifting, dry land exercise and intra-squad scrimmages. The team plays in three league tournaments each fall as well as other non-league tournaments and scrimmages.
The water polo alumni continue to coordinate games during Reunion & Commencement and Homecoming/Family Weekend.
“The alumni game is always a thrill for everyone,” Pepi says. “The sly, out-of-shape ‘old guys’ try to beat the younger, spry though less-experienced undergrads.”
For more information, or to join the team, e-mail Andrew Jaycox at firstname.lastname@example.org.