HUNTINGTON BEACH, California, May 26. THE USA Water Polo Hall Of Fame has announced the class of 2011 set to be inducted at a benefit dinner this September 17 in Los Angeles, California. The class includes two-time Olympic Medalist Robin Beauregard, Masters Water Polo pioneer Michael Garibaldi, women's water polo advocate Jennie Jacobsen-Huse, two-time Olympian Kyle Kopp, and three-time Olympian Wolf Wigo.
A starter and vital member of the first two teams to compete in the Olympics for women's water polo Robin Beauregard entered the National Team program in the late 1990s and helped lay the foundation for what has been over a decade of sustained excellence. Twice a winner of Olympic Medals, Silver in 2000 and Bronze in 2004 Beauregard balanced international acclaim with dominance on the collegiate level lifting UCLA to three National Championships including the 2003 NCAA Championship where she was named Most Outstanding Player. Beauregard was twice nominated for the Peter J. Cutino Award honoring the top player in the collegiate game. She has been a participant in USA water polo at all levels between her competitive and coaching career, and has won championships at each level. The determination she showed in the pool also paid off in the classroom, as she pursued her Doctorate in Physical Therapy and now helps athletes, young and old, resume their sporting activities as a Physical Therapist with ProSport Physical Therapy in Rancho Santa Margarita, California.
Masters Water Polo in the United States is in a better place thanks to people like Michael Garibaldi. A standout at water polo in his youth at the Foothill Aquatic Club under the direction of Nort Thornton and Art Lambert, Garibaldi was perhaps an even better swimmer holding several state championship crowns. He would eventually matriculate to the University of Utah earning All-American status as a swimmer while introducing water polo to the campus. A 1964 Olympic qualifier in both water polo and swimming, Garibaldi was unable to continue in water polo after being deemed a professional by the AAU for accepting a teaching position post graduation. After nearly two decades away from the game a chance opportunity to compete for the Guam National Team at the 1988 World Masters Aquatics Championships reopened a desire to play polo. Upon returning stateside he was part of a masters water polo squad in El Segundo California under the direction of Bryan Weaver. He and other local players helped Weaver create the first ever USA Water Polo Masters National Championship. From 1988 through 2008 Garibaldi's teams finished first or second on the national and international level, a remarkable feat. He continued playing water polo throughout it all starting at 30+ all the way into the 60+ age group. When the 50+ age group started to developed he continued a dominant run that witnessed five first place finishes and one second place mark through 2008. His international experience is equally staggering having claimed medals on a variety of continents over the last three decades. Today he is the founder and host of the Napa Valley Masters Water Polo Tournament and boys' water polo coach for Napa High School and the North Bay Grizzlies water polo club.
Tournament results, medal counts, and official statistics will never do justice in explaining what Jennie Jacobsen-Huse has meant to women's water polo, USA Water Polo, and the water polo community as a whole over the last 40 years plus. A pioneer in women's water polo as an athlete pushing to get water polo for females first at Pasadena High School and then at the University of California-Santa Barbara she was a National Champion with the Merced Water Polo club and remains active in masters water polo. In the interim Jacobsen-Huse pitched in wherever necessary taking on a variety of roles to help better the game and improve the experience for those involved. She helped establish the very first USA Water Polo National Office in Colorado Springs and served as the first team leader for both the Women's Senior and Junior National Teams. Jacobsen-Huse served on the first ever USA Water Polo Board of Directors, was a respected desk official, wrote articles for the then Scoreboard Magazine, and did just about everything else in between. Currently a key part of the water polo program for Commerce Aquatics the game remains as important to her now as ever.
It turns out water polo may have always been Kyle Kopp's destiny, and for that the sport has truly benefited. When injuries derailed a promising basketball career at UC-Riverside, all 6 foot 8 inches of Kyle Kopp transferred to Long Beach State where he turned in a dynamite career. In the water polo pool Kopp was a three-time All-American and was also named to the NCAA Championship All-Tournament team in 1988 and 1989. In 1988 and 1990 Kopp was named the Big West's Most Valuable Player while at the same time jumpstarting a run on the USA Men's Senior National Team that would last over a decade. A member of four World Championship teams, Kopp represented the United States at the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games. A member of the 1997 FINA Cup Gold Medal winning squad, he retired in the early 2000s after a five year run of professional water polo in Greece. From there Kopp segued into coaching in 2001 helping the USA Women's Senior National Team to Gold at the 2003 & 2007 World Championships, Bronze at the 2004 Olympic Games and Silver at the 2008 Olympic Games. Currently Kopp serves as Head Coach of the USA Women's Youth National Team and of the Golden West College Women's Swimming & Water Polo squads.
A prodigy of the New York City water polo scene Wolf Wigo's accomplishments could fill a small village. Never the biggest player in the pool he emerged on the national scene at the age of 13 playing with the senior team of the New York Athletic Club. A standout in swimming and water polo for Bronx Science High School Wigo's 17 and under club team is still the only non-California team to ever win a Junior Olympics. At Stanford University he rolled up two NCAA Championships including his senior season that saw a 27-1 record, MPSF Player of the Year and NCAA Player of the Year honors. In addition Wigo is only one of nine athletes in Stanford history to be named All-American four straight years. As his college career wound to a close his Senior National Team experience began to take off. The top scorer at the 1993 and 1995 World University Games, Wigo earned a spot on the 1996 Olympic squad in Atlanta becoming the first player hailing from east of the Rockies to make the team since 1956. This was the first of three straight Olympic Games he would play in including the 2000 Sydney Olympics and 2004 Athens Olympics. A member of the 1997 FINA Cup Gold Medal winning squad, Wigo served as team captain from 2001-2004, was named USA Water Polo Male Athlete of the Year on three occasions, and in 2000 was named to the All-World First Team by NBC Sports following the Olympic Games. A member of the New York Athletic Club Hall of Fame, Wigo starred in Greece for three seasons. Since retiring internationally Wigo has given back to the water polo community helping to form SET Water Polo of Orange County, co-founding Kap7 International and currently heading the UC-Santa Barbara Men's and Women's teams while also assisting with Santa Barbara Club water polo. Still an active participant with the New York Athletic Club winning numerous National Championships, Wigo also serves as a color commentator for NBC Olympics, most recently at the 2008 Olympic Games.
Inductees were chosen through a process that included open nominations by their peers, evaluation of their candidacy by the USA Water Polo Hall of Fame Committee, and final ratification of the committee's recommendations by the USA Water Polo Board of Directors. The Committee is co-chaired by Brent Bohlender and Chris Dorst, and includes Jody Campbell, Dion Gray, Maggie Kelly, Charles Schroeder and Scott Schulte. USA Water Polo inducted its first Hall of Fame class in 1976. To view past inductees of the USA Water Polo Hall of Fame click here.
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