Washington, PA – Washington and Jefferson College will add men’s and women’s water polo to its varsity sports line-up during the 1999-2000 academic year, thanks to a $60,000 grant from the United States Olympic Committee, through a partnership with the Eastern College Athletic Conference.
The grant is being made through United States Water Polo, Inc., the sport’s national governing organization and will serve as “seed money” to establish a new program.
In announcing the new men’s and women’s water polo team at W & J, Dr. Brian C. Mitchell, president of the College, noted that the new teams underscore W & J’s commitment to gender equity and intercollegiate competition.
“These two new varsity-level teams expand the opportunities that W & J offers to its student-athletes,” he said. “W & J’s national reputation as a premier liberal arts college will be strengthened as we expand our recruiting efforts into new areas of the country.”
Michael Orstein, who coaches both the men’s and women’s swim teams at W & J, will coach the two water polo teams. An eight-time recipient of the President’s Athletic Conference “Swim Coach of the Year” award, Orstein received the prestigious Master Coach Award from the College Swim Coaches Association of America (CSCAA).
“Adding water polo to our varsity sports program opens up a whole new area for recruiting and for competition,” said Orstein, whose swim teams have produced five All-Americans, six NCAA Division III swimming championship qualifiers, and 128 conference champions. “Student-athletes who participate in water polo tend to excel academically and live in areas that will expand W & J’s national reach.”
The W & J women’s team will be the 43rd women’s water polo team established in the nation. Daniel Sharadin, Director of Senior and Collegiate Programs for U.S. Water Polo, Inc., said, “Women’s water polo is one of the fastest emerging sports nationally. In five years, United States Water Polo membership has grown from 10,000 participants per year to 22,000, with the majority of the growth due to women. During the same period the number of institutions sponsored on a varsity level have grown from four to 45.