Bill Smith Elected as New Board Chair for USA Water Polo

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Bill Smith (on the far right) with the Greenwich Aquatics 16-U Team at the 2008 Junior Olympics. Photo Courtesy: Bill Smith

At the 2021 USA Water Polo General Assembly, William Smith, a long-time supporter of American polo, was unanimously elected as chairman of the USAWP board. Smith takes over from outgoing chairman Michael Graff, who after 15 years leading the U.S. national governing body for polo will term out of board service on June 1, 2021.

USAWP_Gen_Assemble_logoNo stranger to aquatics, Smith is currently the United States Aquatic Sports president, the liaison for USA aquatic sports to FINA. Moreover, he has been involved in water polo for more than 25 years as an athlete, coach, and club director in the Greenwich, Connecticut area while also serving as a USA Water Polo board member in various capacities. Smith will begin his new role on June 1, 2021.

“I’m excited to be the next Chairman of USA Water Polo,” said Smith. “USA Water Polo is one of the most successful and respected National Governing Bodies in the world.

“I look forward to continuing our National Teams’ successes and explosive membership growth as the world resets after COVID.”

“Bill Smith has dedicated much of his life to our sport,” said Graff, who has been USAWP’s only  board chair since the organization was reconstituted in 2006. “His biggest contribution by far is his founding and then building of clubs and our sport in the Greenwich, Connecticut region. Bill helped launch a wonderful water polo journey for countless athletes with his work through the Greenwich programs, and our community is in a better place thanks to him.”

Bill Smith - Welcome

Photo Courtesy: USAWP

“We have a great deal of leadership on our board, and the consensus of the Nominating Committee was that Bill’s long service to the sport, international experience, and especially his enthusiasm for growing water polo nationally would serve our board and our membership well,” said Jessica Steffens, AAC Representative and member of the USAWP Board Nominating & Governance Committee.” He’s been very engaged both operationally and in gathering feedback from members. He brings a wide perspective of trends across all aquatics that allow water polo to expand both at home and abroad.”

A water polo player and parent, both of Smith’s children played varsity college water polo. Smith has coached water polo at the high school, club, and collegiate levels, including stints with three different universities and the USA Men’s Cadet National Team.

He is perhaps best known for starting two elite age group polo programs in Connecticut. The first—now known as Connecticut Premier Water Polo—is based out of the Chelsea Piers Fieldhouse in Stamford, CT. The second is Greenwich Aquatics; with 250 members, it has grown into one of the top clubs in the country, regularly send athletes to DI collegiate programs all over the country.

[Catching Up with Bill Smith of Greenwich Aquatics]

Penn Water Polo 1978

Smith (middle, first row) with the 1978 Penn Water Polo Club. Photo Courtesy: USAWP

Smith’s USAWP board work began in 2006, when he served as part of Graff’s original board. Over the years he has assumed a number of different roles, including Board Secretary, Chairman of the Finance Committee, and member of the Nominating & Governance, Development, and Compensation Committees.

Smith, who rotated off in 2014 before rejoining the board two years later, has a strong relationship with long-time USAWP CEO Chris Ramsey, who he knew as an age group coach in Greenwich. Ramsey was part of the brain trust who in 2006 elected Ramsey to run day-to-day operations for the organization.

[On The Record with USA Water Polo’s Chris Ramsey: Present, Past, Future]

Away from the pool, Smith is the Founder and CEO of Renaissance Capital (Established 1991), a global leader in helping Institutional Investment Managers and Hedge Funds profit from IPOs with its Pre-IPO research. He has an MBA in Finance from the Wharton School (Univ. of Pennsylvania) and a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Villanova University.

With reporting from USA Water Polo

2 comments

  1. avatar
    Scott Stanford

    Good ol boys club

    • avatar
      Michael Randazzo

      Interesting that you should comment on this; I’m working on a post-assembly piece and one of my points will be the prominence of a couple of women in the discussion of who will lead USAWP in the future.

      If you watched the assembly, you probably noted that Jessica Steffens and Brenda Villa were the only board members besides Graff + Smith to speak. IMO, this is not a coincidence; I am thinking carefully about what this means for “who’s next” when Bill Smith rotates off.

      As to your (possible) insinuation that American water polo is a small, tightly-knit community… can ANYONE be surprised about how this succession plan worked?

      Your correspondent