Logan Schofield: A Polo Legacy Grows at Bucknell

Bucknell's Logan Schofield against Havard
Bucknell's Logan Schofield against Havard in a 2019 NCAA play-in match. Photo Courtesy: Rob Dolan

Bucknell University, a prestigious academic institution located in the idyllic Pennsylvania countryside, is far from the Northeast mega-city corridor, where Boston bleeds into Stamford into New York and into Philadelphia.

Bucknell Bison Logo

A destination for future engineers, doctors and financial titans, for decades it’s also lured accomplished water polo players, as Bison success past and present can attest. A perennial contender for top honors in the East, the past four years have been noteworthy for the exploits of Rade Joksimovic, a supremely talented attacker who completed his career in Lewisburg with 525 goals, second only on the NCAA all-time list to Scott Schulte, also a Bison (1977-81).

But, recent Bison achievements are not predicated solely on a lone performer. It results from a bond of friendship and shared commitment to success that includes all players under Head Coach John McBride, and in particular — a group of seniors: Joksimovic, Cooper Dolan, Cullen Jacuzzi and Logan Schofield. Fast friends since arriving in Lewisburg in 2016, the culmination of their time wearing the Bison blue and orange was an NCAA quarterfinal match against USC in Stockton, CA, where Bucknell jumped out to an early lead before succumbing to the Trojans by the score of 15-9.

[USC, Pepperdine Win Quarterfinals at 2019 NCAA Men’s Water Polo Tournament]

Of the quartet, Schofield enjoys recognition that extends beyond the success he’s carved out for himself over a four-year career, one that saw him blossom as a junior to become one of the East’s top two-meter men (64 goals scored, 114 ejections drawn in 2019; All-MAWPC First Team selection in 2018 and 2019).  This year Bucknell captured the Mid-Atlantic Water Polo Conference title, then beat an undefeated Harvard squad at home in an NCAA play-in game to advance.

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(From left) Cooper Dolan, Logan Schofield, Cullen Jacuzzi, Rade Joksimovic. Courtesy: Rob Dolan

Logan’s father Ed, a starting goalie for Navy back in the 80s when the Midshipmen were the East’s dominant polo force, was the Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) Most Valuable Player in 1986. And, the younger Schofield has a connection to more polo royalty. Logan’s uncle is Mike Schofield, the long-time Navy coach, who coached his brother from 1984-87 and is one of the most successful coaches in Eastern polo history, with 631 wins and 13 NCAA appearances in 29 years as the Midshipmen’s helmsman.

[On The Record with Mike Schofield, Legendary Navy Water Polo Coach Turned Referee]

Prior to Bucknell’s match last Thursday against USC, Swimming World spoke with Ed Schofield about the fantastic career enjoyed by his son at Bucknell, the impact of his family legacy on Logan’s progress, and the expansive fraternity of polo players that two generations of Schofields are now members of.

– Clearly sports are a big part of your family’s background. Given your and your brother’s experience, how did Logan end up playing water polo at Bucknell?

He was always a year-round swimmer. Janet and I are both retired Navy pilots, [and] in our tours, we were twice stationed in [Washington] DC near Annapolis. [Logan] used to play [for] Leslie Entwisle [at the Naval Academy Aquatic Club].

[On The Record with Leslie Entwistle, Water Polo Pioneer Growing the Sport in the Mid-Atlantic Region]

When he was a little-little, he swam at Navy when we were first stationed there and we put him in the diving well, at the Naval Academy and it was kind of warm and everything.

– But he didn’t like it?

He cried like a baby!  After that, water polo didn’t exist because of where we were stationed and where he was swimming.  When we moved back to Toledo. I retired but Janet was still active duty — assigned as the commanding officer at the Toledo reserve center.

We came back when Logan was going to be a freshman in high school. The school [Saint Francis De Sales High School] happened to have a really good swimming program and a water polo team. That serendipity put him back in the water with polo. He got involved with ODP [USA Water Polo’s Olympic Development Program} and just loved it.

– After being on the move because of you and your wife’s commitments to the Navy, you were now staying put.

He went and played for Jim Staresinic and Nicola Malezanov with the Pittsburgh Renegades and just fell in love with [polo]. Sophomore year he really go into it, and then he applied to the Naval Academy. In that particular year, they had 42 blue chip recruits who got declined because they had a higher acceptance rate — and he [was] kind of an unknown.

[On The Record with Jim Staresinic of Pittsburgh Women’s Water Polo Club Team]

Look, Maumee, Ohio is not a hot bed of water polo. But we thought, me being a grad and you know, he’s super smart. We thought he was going to be a shoe-in. And he [wasn’t].

We talked to Coach McBride and you know the rest. [If] you look at it from my perspective, Logan did so much work in the off-season — this is what John always alludes to. He went and lived out in California each of the previous three summers.

Here’s another connection for you. His host family, when he played on the junior national team and practiced out there at Long Beach State, was Alex Wolf’s mom. Alex of course is the great UCLA player and he will likely be the starting gold in the Olympics. But Logan of his own initiative was: “I’m going to go, I want to go live in California and train all summer.”

[On Deck With UCLA Water Polo’s Alex Wolf]

He came in as a freshman, didn’t play a second, came back as a sophomore and played mop up. Then junior year, everybody knows what happened now and senior year, you see where he is.

I give total credit to him for having the wherewithal to say: I’m going to make myself better at this. There’s some funny pictures of him as a freshman, like a bean pole. Then junior and senior year, he turned into what you see now.

– Where Bucknell really hits the mark at this point is that there is that team unity.

And it is all about that team and the way coach McBride has molded them. They’ve lived together for four years. They played together for four years. Rade is of course, other worldly and what he does, the rest of them, they just have a… The guy who never gets any credit is Coop, who is, I believe the best center defender I’ve ever seen. And you never hear his name, but you know, between them, they live together, they eat together. It’s a small school, and they’re all roommates.

Bucknell's Rade Joksimovic

Bucknell’s Rade Jocksimovic shooting against Harvard in an NCAA play-in game. Photo Courtesy: Rob Dolan

The only reason Cullen’s not in the same room with them is because they wanted to have a place out in town because of some of the ridiculous rules in Pennsylvania. They always had to have a house out in town. So, they’re best friends. We love their parents. We’re actually going to see them all here tomorrow. Last weekend Rade’s mom and his sister were there. We all know them. It’s a relationship that will be a lifetime for them. And it’s incredible to watch.

– The sport is a tight-knit fraternity or sorority. You and your brother are a core members — and now your son is part of it as well.

It’s funny when people ask me, because the name is very well known in the sport. People ask me: Are you related to Mike Schofield? My answer is, “Why do you ask?”

[But,] it was an entirely different game strategically when I played. The position Logan plays now was nothing like [it] because the objective then was to get two quick fouls and score on the switch. That way the exclusion was because of the third foul in the hole. Now, [the whole set position] is nothing like that.

It’s great. I love it. We’re sad this could be our last weekend of watching Logan play. Certainly going to the last weekend of watching him play college. I couldn’t be more proud of what he’s done.

Logan Schofield and his family

The Schofields: Ed, Logan, Samantha. Janet (back row); Parker and Brady with their dog Toby. Photo Courtesy: Ed Schofield

This goes beyond the players that the families are integrated. There’s a kid from Michigan, there’s a couple of few Chicago. Logan will drive them back and they’ll get together. There’s parents that are coming [to Stockton] whose kids probably won’t get in the water.

It’s just that cohesive of a family and team and I put that on John and his wife, Sam, who are incredible at nurturing that. The boys have a home away from home.

We only live six hours away by drive—and can hop in the car in the morning and be there. Everybody else [is] coming from California or overseas. There’s a couple from Greenwich, but the lion’s share come from California. And [Lewisburg] is not an easy place to get to.

You’ve got to give a lot of credit to Coach McBride and his team for creating the environment that produces this outcome. He really did. If you’re going to offer the same kid no money to go to either Harvard or Bucknell, which one are you going to pick?

– At Bucknell is there, a cohesiveness which doesn’t exist in a city like Boston or in schools with proximity to New York City?

That’s right. It’s really special what they have there. And [McBride] does it with the men’s and the women’s program. So, good for him.