More COVID-19 Bad News: USA Water Polo Postpones Junior Olympics, Part of 2020 Event Calendar Overhaul

Scenes like this celebration from the 2018 Junior Olympics will have to wait until November, 2020. Photo Courtesy: Catharyn Hayne

Earlier today, USA Water Polo announced a series of postponements for its age group and master level events, throwing into chaos the majority of American water polo competition at a time typically crammed with events that culminate with high-level competition during the summer months.

usawpIn a statement, USA Water Polo Chief Executive Officer Chris Ramsey explained the challenge of organizing large-scale events like the national Junior Olympics—the world’s largest polo event—given the continued coronavirus outbreak which has infected almost half a million people in the United States and taken as many as 18,000 American lives.

“That we can pivot in the face of this pandemic to reschedule the lion’s share of our 2020 programming is a tribute to our community working together during a very difficult time,” Ramsey said. “In reformatting the calendar, our first priority has been the health and safety of players, coaches, officials, club administrators and families.

“We also wanted to ensure that we could secure outstanding venues and experienced officials. Finally, we wanted to be sensitive to club and scholastic calendars, since we are all in this together, and we wanted to do our best to fashion a revised program that would meet the needs of our USA Water Polo community.”

According to the statement, the organization’s leadership acted after analyzing current public health data and consulting with athletes, coaches, parents, and officials across the nation, as well as the U.S .Olympic and Paralympic Committee, FINA, USAWP Zone and water polo club leadership.

USA Water Polo sanctioned practices and events will continue to be suspended until further notice.

The biggest news regards the 2020 National Junior Olympics—known simply as the JOs. Originally scheduled for July 18-26 in Northern California, JOs will now be divided into two distinct sessions in partnership with local organizing committees from Stanford and Irvine.

Coach Matt Swanson of SHAQ

In case anyone forgets why JOs matters, this 2014 photo of SHAQ Coach Matt Swanson’s unrestrained joy is a great reminder. Photo Courtesy: Catharyn Hayne

In the new schedule, National Junior Olympics Session 1 featuring 10U, 12U and 14U competition for boys, girls and mixed divisions will take place November 21-24 at Stanford, California and the surrounding area. Session II featuring 16U/18U boys and girls will take place December 27-30 in Irvine, CA and the surrounding area.

A major hurdle in rescheduling JOs during the school year is athlete availability. USAWP is in active discussions to determine participation eligibility for in-season high school athletes during Session II of the Junior Olympics—no simple matter for states whose boys’ and girls’ seasons occur in the fall.

According to the statement, detailed information regarding National Junior Olympics qualifications and registrations will be shared as it becomes available.

Besides postponing JOs, USAWP delayed the 2020 Masters National Championships—originally scheduled for June 12-14—to August 21-23 in Orange County, CA. In addition, the 2020 USA Water Polo Hall of Fame Induction Luncheon originally scheduled for June 12, has been postponed until August 21.

[Arroyo, Rulon and Wigo Headline USA Water Polo 2020 Hall of Fame Inductees]

Other Postponements and Cancellations

The Welcome to Texas Shootout originally scheduled for May 23-25 in San Antonio, Texas will now take place September 5-7.

The Olympic Development Program (ODP) Girls National Championship originally postponed until May 22-24 has been postponed until further notice. In addition, the ODP Boys and Girls NTSC events scheduled for the same weekend have also been postponed until further notice. More information regarding these events will be shared as soon as it can be confirmed.

The Clearwater Beach Challenge in Florida (May 16-17), Great Lakes Classic (June 27-28) in Michigan and the Golden State Invitational (July 10-12) in California are all postponed until further notice.

The Men’s & Women’s Senior Nationals set for July 10-12 in Irvine, CA is canceled and will not be rescheduled in 2020.

Event Original Schedule New Schedule
Masters National Championships & Hall of Fame Induction Luncheon June 12-14
Hall of Fame – June 12
August 21-23
Hall of Fame – August 21
Junior Olympics Session I July 18-21 – Stanford CA November 21-24 – Stanford, CA – 10U/12U/14U Boys & Girls & Mixed
Junior Olympics Session II July 23-26 – Stanford CA December 27-30 – Irvine, CA – 16U/18U Boys & Girls
Clearwater Beach Challenge May 16-17 TBD
ODP Girls National Championship May 22-24 TBD
ODP Girls NTSC May 22-24 TBD
ODP Boys NTSC May 22-24 TBD
Welcome To Texas Shootout May 23-25 September 5-7
Great Lakes Classic June 27-28 TBD
Golden State Invitational July 10-12 TBD
Men’s & Women’s Senior Nationals July 10-12 Canceled

With content from USA Water Polo