The Wolverines are Big Ten Champions!
By Kenichi Osawa
            The University of Michigan Men’s Water Polo team took to the Purdue University Boilermaker Aquatic center on Saturday, October 28th on a mission.  The mission was a daunting one, one that the Wolverines had not completed in over eight years, as it was to win a Big Ten Championship and win a berth to Club Nationals.  The Wolverines went into the weekend confident and hungry, coming off a 4-0 weekend at Purdue the prior weekend, jumping to 12th in the Club National polls and claiming the 1 seed for the Big Ten tournament.  However, the path would prove to be a difficult one as the other six teams in the Big Ten were all after the same objective.   
            The first game of the weekend was against an inspired University of Illinois team that came into the tournament as the 5th seed.  The Illini came out firing on all cylinders and played the Wolverines tough for the duration of the game.  The Wolverines had to fight their way to draw the first quarter 2-2.  The Wolverines started out the second quarter hot, scoring 3 goals, two of which on 6-5, by sophomore Chris Takahashi to jump out to a 5-2 lead.  Still in the second quarter the Illini would storm back, powered by their counter-attack offense, to score 3 unanswered goals to tie the game 5 to 5 at halftime.  The Wolverines and Illini would trade blows during the second half, every time the Wolverines would go up, the Illini would answer with a goal of their own.  At the end of regulation, the final score was 7 to 7, with two, three-minute periods of overtime to play left.  The first period was an uneventful one.  Then, the second half in overtime the Wolverines were able to score with the man advantage, and stop and Illini 6 on 5, to escape the first game of the day with the “dub-ya” 8 to 7.  The drama of the opening game would foreshadow the rest of the tournament with the host Purdue Boilermakers slated next.

            The Wolverines came out with more intensity after getting woken up by their earlier game, which Purdue would match.  In the first half of play neither team could gain much of an advantage as the Wolverines maintained effective dropping, crashing, and help on defense to thwart the Boilermakers one-man led attack.  At half the score was 3 to 3, with no desire to go into another overtime game, seniors Matt Woelfel and Levi Barry “put da team on they back,” scoring a combined four goals in the second half to lead the Wolverines to an 8 to 5 win, guaranteeing themselves a spot in the Big Ten Championship game.  After the long and tiring day, the Wolverines enjoyed a great meal at Scotty’s Brewhouse:, which is unique to Indiana, to prepare for the championship game. 
            Needless to say, the team woke up Sunday morning with a strong sense of determination.  Characterized by a quiet intensity, the ride to the pool couldn’t have gone by quickly enough as anxiety for the fast approaching championship game began to build.  Soon enough after arriving at the pool, introductions were over, pleasantries were exchanged, and the game for the Big Ten title began.  The Michigan State Spartans would draw first blood, scoring on their first possession of the game from whole-set to go up 1 to 0.   However, the Wolverines were unshaken, drawing an ejection and converting on their first man advantage opportunity to bring the scores level.  In an eventful 1st quarter, the Spartans would score two more, to which the Wolverines would answer on a backhand from grad student Steven Brown, and 6 on 5 goal from sophomore Peter DeJonge.  Going into the second quarter the game was tied 3 -3.  In the second, The Wolverines would find themselves playing from behind again, as the Spartans would score twice, once from a 5-meter penalty shot and another from a 6 on 5 opportunity.  However, The Wolverines would not be denied.  Answering with a rear-back and man advantage goals from Sophomore Chris ‘Tako’ Takahashi, the Wolverines would draw level again, 5 to 5, going into halftime.  The third quarter was dominated by the Wolverines defense, and the Wolverines soon found themselves in the lead 6 to 5 off of another man advantage goal.  With only one quarter between themselves and the Big Ten title, the Wolverines were poised to win the game.  The Spartans had different plans.  After scoring off of a 6 on 5 opportunity and a back-hand shot, the Spartans had taken the lead 7 to 6 with under 3 minutes to play.  Unfortunately for the 6-year-in-a-row Big Ten champion Spartans this game was not over, yet.  After drawing an ejection, Senior Kevin Jensen scored the game tying goal, point blank, from the inside post.  After getting a defensive stop, the Wolverines raced up the pool for what would be their last possession of the game.  When the Spartans left early on counter attack, Freshman Michael Abell-Venit took an outside shot, beating the goalie to the upper left side of the goal to put the Wolverines up 8 to 7.  The Spartans had one last gasp opportunity, which was shot-blocked to the corner.  The Wolverines were able to get the ball back, and run the final 10 seconds off the clock to become Big Ten Champions!  Soon enough the entire team was singing “Hail to the Victors” and chanting “It’s Great to be a Michigan Wolverine!” from the pool.  Head Coach Tony Anderson and Assistant Coach Paul Reynolds were appropriately shoved in the water to join in the celebration.

            The tournament was a great experience for all those involved and I want to thank all the families and friends for coming to support us and help us in completing our season long goal.  We were treated to delicious lunches all weekend, provided by the Viviano’s, Hubbard’s, Cole’s, Barry’s, and Takahashi’s.  The Wolverines season is not over yet.  Next, they look to take the title of best club team in the nation at The Georgia Institute of Technology’s Aquatic center on November 11th,12th, and 13th.  For those who can’t make it to Atlanta there is an opportunity to watch all the games at nationals streaming online at:  Thank you all for your continued support of the Michigan Men’s Water Polo team. Go Blue!


Wolverines in West Lafayette
By Ben ‘Tay’ Hubbard
            After winning the first tournament of the season as well as the team’s only offseason tournament, the Wolverines entered West Lafayette riding a string of five tournaments that had seen the Wolverines lose at least one game. Coming off of a bye week into the final games before Big Tens, Michigan was hoping to see a strong showing. The schedule promised a good test of what this team was made of, slating the #4 (Purdue) #3 (MSU) and #2-ranked (Indiana) teams in the Big Ten, all in one day.         
            When the Wolverines arrived to warm-up at 10:30, they saw the Indiana Hoosiers upset the rival Michigan State Spartans. The Wolverines then played a hard-fought game with the home team Purdue that ended 13-7 with a boilermaker being rolled for saying something we can not repeat on this website to the referee. We would like to take this opportunity to say that the referees in the Big Ten are the best in the country.
            After two hours of rest, the Michigan Men’s Water Polo team faced its most important challenge of the season to that point: to beat a team that they had lost to twice, earlier in the season. The Wolverines scored first off a holeset shot by senior captain Kenichi Osawa. They added to the lead after the Spartans went to their bench early in the first quarter. Chris Takahashi added a couple clutch goals, but the Spartans fought back and tied the game at seven after four quarters.  The only goal of the two 30minute overtime periods was scored by sophomore Peter DeJonge. This is the same Peter who scored the championship-winning goal in the team’s only other overtime game, vs Tampa at the Hillbilly Invitational. With thirty seconds left, Michigan State set up a play off a time-out, but the pass was stolen by senior captain Ben ‘Tay’ Hubbard to seal the 8-7 win for the Maize and Blue.
            After two and a half hours of rest, the Michigan Men faced their final task of the day in the quest to become Big Ten Regular season champions: to beat Indiana by more than two goals. Indiana was undefeated in Big Ten play and had beaten the Wolverines 7-5 in Iowa. Michigan picked a good time for perhaps its best offensive game of the season, scoring 11 goals on one of the best goalies in the country and only giving up eight to win the goal differential tiebreaker over Indiana. The team drove thirty miles back to the hotel exhausted, but very proud of all they had done.         
            The next game began at 9:00am against Iowa. Everyone played and had a good time in a 16-4 win against a much-improved Hawkeye squad. Then the team went home to Ann Arbor with things to work on, newfound confidence and a Big Ten Regular Season Championship. Their next tournament would be the biggest and best test yet.


The Wolverine Invite 2011: A Home Tournament
By Kenichi Osawa

            The Wolverines of Michigan were lucky enough to play host to a full complement of Midwest teams over the weekend of October 8th and 9th at their home pool in the Canham Natatorium.  In contrast to the almost 8 hour expedition to Iowa City, IA the five minute walk to Canham was a leisurely one to the familiar intersection of Hoover and State Street.  However, it was not a short journey for all attendees, including Captain Patrick Trabert’s parents who made the trek from Twin Falls, ID.  Which is approximately a 23-day trip by foot (according to Google maps)!
            The Wolverines started their home campaign with a familiar foe, the Lindenwood Lions, whom they played at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.  The game started off rough and the Wolverines had to play tough 5 on 6 defense to avoid going down early.  Scrappy goals by Grad-Student Steven Brown and sophomore Peter DeJonge kept the Wolverines in it.  The Lions would hit a couple out side shots and the teams would go into half tied, 2 to 2.  In the third period of play both teams would score 6 on 5 goals, going into the fourth tied 3 t o 3.  The Wolverines would dominate in the fourth quarter.  The defense was able to force bad shots from the outside, shutting out the Lions for the quarter.  The Wolverines’ offense was firing on all cylinders as well, with three goals on an outside shot, 2-meter whole set shot, and a 5-meter foul shot winning the game by a score of 6-3.
            After winning their only game of the day, the Wolverines were able to rest up, watch the Michigan football game on TV and get ready for their big match up with Michigan State at 1 p.m on Sunday.  Friends and family began to slowly fill the stands as the Wolverines warmed up in the Dick Kimball Divining well.  The Wolverines came out strong in the first quarter behind the energy of the crowd, drawing three kick-outs.  Unfortunately their efforts didn’t translate to goals, as they couldn’t convert their man-advantage opportunities and the Spartans capitalized off of turnovers.  The Spartans had a 2 to 0 advantage after the first quarter.  The second quarter was more of the same, and the Spartans scored again to gain a 3 to 0 advantage.  The second half started off well for the Wolverines when Senior Kevin Jensen drew a kick out and scored on the man advantage.  After that the positive possessions were few and far between as the Spartans would answer on a 6 on 5 of their own.  In the fourth quarter the Wolverines were on the short end of a 6 on 4 that the Spartans converted.  The Wolverines would fall to Sparty by a final score of 7 to 1;however, they left the game with a lot of positives. 
            The final game of the tournament for the Wolverines, against the Western Michigan Broncos, would be a high-scoring affair.  Both teams were thankful to be playing in a 25-yard pool, which made it much easier to set-up the offense.  The scoring started off quickly with goals from Senior and Captain Patrick Trabert.  The Wolverines took over in the second quarter behind offense from Freshman Ryan Gould and gave the Wolverines a 9 to 2 lead.  From there, both teams would play their entire benches and the quick scoring persisted through the fourth leading to a 21 to 8 final score. 
            The Wolverine invite was a great opportunity to play tough competition in front of our friends and families.  I want to especially thank all the families that brought us food or beverages over the weekend, so thanks to The Hubbards, Coles, Traberts, Osawas, Vivianos, Barrys, and the Frosts! I can’t thank you all enough, we are all very spoiled to have your great support.  In addition, I would like to thank Michigan Recreational Sports department for providing lifeguards and the Canham staff for setting up the pool. I would also like to thank the Women’s Club Water Polo team: for running the clocks and taking stats.  Thanks again to Coach Tony’s family: Beth, Andrew, Kyle, and Grace for supporting him and our team.  Thank you friends, family, and boosters of Michigan Water Polo for your continued support:



                                      The Wolverine Invite – Michigan ‘B’
                                                            By Justin Chronowski
            The B team had only one previous tournament before the Wolverine Invite and that was a couple weeks earlier at the Spartan Invite. Needless to say in the Wolverines first outing they were still trying to figure out the strengths and weaknesses of the team and did not live up to their potential. It seemed in their second outing that the Wolverines had more chemistry. Even though the Wolverines lost all but one, all around their play was improved.
The Wolverines first challenge was the “A” team from Miami of Ohio, who provided some challenges as they had a couple of solid hole-set players. It put a strain on the Wolverines defense as the team tried to put more pressure on the hole set by using an “M” drop. For most of the first half they kept them contained, by only allowing about 5 goals to the Wolverines 6, with Ray Viviano having a couple great saves in goal. The shorter pool was an advantage for the team’s speed as the Wolverines created many counter attacks and subsequent goals from Corey Taylor, Brad Frost and Dave Hiemstra. But after the half Miami of Ohio’s experience took control of the game and out scored the Wolverines 7 to 1 to end the game at 13 to 7. I would like to mention that it was Matt Knieser’s first game of his career as well Evan Bischoff.  Matt ended up scoring in this game so the polo team would like to give him a shout out.
The next game was against Western Michigan University based out of Kalamazoo Michigan.  It was a well-fought game by both sides. The Wolverines had a slow start and got down in the game 6 to 1, with the solo goal put in by Jack Tesar. As the game went on the Wolverines did start to close the gap as they had a few 6 on 5 goals from Emerson Eckhout and Garrett Wood making it 9 to 5 at the end of the 3rd quarter. It is important to note that the “B” team does not have a real goalie so the team had to split the halves between Riley Cole and Brad Frost. Although they have limited experience at this position, they did a great job defending the goal and blocking some difficult skip shots as well as shots in the corner. In the end the Wolverines fell to the Broncos 15 to 8.
The first game on Sunday was against University of Illinois Chicago, UIC, who had a wider range of ages on their team, one of them having a 2-year son.  Needless to say their experience and chemistry over powered the Wolverines young energy and fast breaks throughout the game. The Wolverines constantly were making mental mistakes, which led to easy goals for UIC. The score at the half was 8 to 3. The three goals for the Wolverines were scored by Ian Waters, Kurt Jensen and Adam Berry.  But as the game ran on UIC’s limited subs started to hurt them and created many fast break opportunities for the Wolverines. Riley Cole had a great t-shot and Jack Tesar had a great shot to the corner off the assist from Justin Chronowski. In the 3rd and half of the fourth quarter the Wolverines cut the lead down to 4, 12-8, but that would be the closet they would come as UIC would put in two more goals to seal the deal. The final score was 14 to 8.
Obviously the most important game of the weekend was the “B” teams last against Michigan States “B” team. It was a back and forth battle between the two teams which were evenly matched, but the Wolverines had one advantage, speed. This caused the wolverines to get many 6-5 opportunities and two 5 meters. Kurt Jensen missed the first one but Justin Chronowski put the second one in to tie the game up at 4 in the second. The 3rd was a defensive quarter and both teams were not capitalizing on scoring opportunities. But with 30 seconds left in the 3rd quarter Michigan State held a 6 to 5 lead over the Wolverines, in a crucial series the Wolverines drew a 6 on 5 for the last 20 seconds. As the ball moved around the top of the key, the clock was getting closer and closer to zero. With only 3 seconds left a pass came from, Ian Waters, the right driver to the left wing, Justin Chronowski, and was put in goal as the buzzer went off to tie the game at 6.  This was the turning point in the game and in the 4th the Wolverines were defense stifled the Michigan State Offense only allowing one goal. In another crucial 6 on 5 with only 50 seconds left and the Wolverines leading 7 to 6,  Emerson Eckout sealed the victory with a great shot to the left corner. It was a great end to the weekend and really showed the overall improvement of the team.



Iowa Tournament

by Peter Dejonge

On the beautiful fall morning of September 30th, the Men’s Club Water Polo team piled into several vans and settled in for the seven-hour car ride to Iowa City, IA. The Hawkeye-hosted tournament would be their first official Big Ten competition. The ride was flat and long, but team morale was as high as the food at Culver’s was delicious and greasy.

The next morning, after a great night sleep in a luxurious hotel, the Wolverines faced their first opponent—Illinois. Michigan started off strong and drew first blood, netting two goals in the first. They continued to outscore the Illini throughout the next three quarters. The Maize and Blue’s own California dreamboat, Chris Takahashi, contributed to the win with a hat trick. Final score: 7-2 Michigan.

Coming off a victory, the Wolverines felt confident and better than ever—ready to go back to AA with a 4-0 record in the conference. On the sidelines though, the Hoosiers were looking to be that kink in Michigan’s plan. The Michigan-Indiana game began and the enemy came out fightin, more so than the Fightin’ Illini had, and it seemed to take Michigan by surprise. At the end of the first the score was 0-1 Indiana. The game turned into more of a swim-meet  as Michigan tried to keep up with the fast, driving hordes of Red and White. Although both Kevin Jensen and Grant Cole found success in 2 goals a piece, the Wolverines could not rally enough strength to outlast Indiana. When the final buzzer sounded, the score read 5-7, Indiana victory.

Now, Blue was angry. They had clearly overlooked Indiana in their fixed sights on the Big Ten Championship in late October. With a humbled attitude and after a reinvigorating team meeting, Michigan went on to trounce the Wisconsin Badgers in their last game of the day 8-3 and smash the home team, Iowa, in their Sunday game, 13-4.

Michigan left 3-1 and headed home with a new sense of direction and burning-chlorine filled eyes. The next tournament would be on their home turf and they were ready to spend a week of hard conditioning and drills to prove to their fans what kind of team they were.


Miami of Ohio Invitational
By Kenichi Osawa

            The Wolverines descended upon the college town of Oxford, Ohio on Friday September 23rd for the Miami University club water polo invitational.  The vans arrived late on Friday night to Oxford but were still able to see some of the sites in Oxford on their bustling main street, “High St.”  However, the team stayed about 30 minutes away in nearby Cincinnati.
            The Wolverines opened up their weekend campaign at noon on Saturday against the Purdue Boilermakers.  Slow starts have plagued the Wolverines all season and the game against Purdue was no exception.  The Boilermakers jumped out to an early 3-1 lead in the 1st quarter.  After the wake up call, Senior Matt Woelfel scored two quick counter attack goals going into the half with a 3-3 tie.  In the 3rd period the Boilermakers would answer to make the game 4-3.  At that point the Wolverines’ offense began to click and Freshman Michael Abell-Venit drew kick-outs and scored on 6 on 5 opportunities, leading the Wolverines to a 7-4 victory.
            The Wolverines were able to get some much needed rest as they didn't have to be back at the pool until 8:20 p.m. for the final game of the day.  Their opponent was The University of Notre Dame who filled in for a University of Missouri team that couldn’t make it.  The Wolverines quickly took control of the game as Grad-Student Paul ‘Ringo’ Starr and Sophomore Kurt Jensen directed the offense.  Freshman Garrett Wood and Sophomore Emerson Eckhout scored out of whole set and Freshman James Otis got two steals in a 13-3 victory over the Fighting Irish.  The Wolverines were happy to head back to the hotel on a high note, eating some Papa John’s Pizza before going to bed for an 8:20 a.m. game.
            The morning game was against Grand Valley State University based out of Grand Rapids Michigan.  It was a well-fought game by both sides.  The Wolverines were able to get good shot blocking by their field players and crucial saves at key points of the game by Ray Viviano, resulting in cheers of: “Hip-Hip-Hoo RAY” from the bench.  The Wolverines continued to draw ejections and convert on their 6 on 5, going 3 for 5 on their opportunities, and frustrate the Lakers with their stifling defense led by Junior Sam Rosen by not allowing a goal in the second half.  The Wolverines were able to win their 3rd game 5-2.
            Next on the docket was a feisty Lindenwood ‘A’ team, who the mighty Wolverines fell to two weekends ago in East Lansing.  The Wolverines were looking to avenge their previous loss but the Lindenwood Lions had other plans in mind.  The Wolverines missed early goal chances and the Lions converted on theirs.  The Wolverines fell behind to the Lions 4-0 in the first quarter.  The Wolverines would not go down without a fight.  Led behind the senior Levi Barry, who drew 3 kick-outs and offensives left and right, they clawed their way back to score three goals over the second and third periods.  The Lions would keep up the pressure and matched the Wolverines, going into the 4th quarter with an 8 – 4 lead.  The defense would pick up at the end of the 3rd and beginning of second when sophomore, Grant Cole took over 2-meter defense.  The Wolverines were not able to climb out of the hole and fell to the Lions 11-6. 
            All in all it was a great weekend that was shared with friends and family for the Wolverines as they finished 3rd overall at the invitational with a 3 and 1 record.  I want to thank all the families that came down and supported us over the weekend, it is great having you all! Mrs. Barry for making her pasta salad again, she never disappoints.  Also, we have been spoiled by the fresh tomatoes and watermelon, picked directly from Mrs. Hubbard’s garden.  Not to mention the homemade pickles!  I would also like to thank the Vivianos and the Coles for coming down to cheer for us and for the great spreads of food to eat.  Finally and very importantly, thanks to coach Tony Anderson and his family: Beth, Andrew, Kyle, and Grace for their continued support for our team despite being affiliated with Indiana Water Polo as well. 

Next we will be traveling to Iowa City, Iowa for a Big Ten, CWPA tournament on October 1st and 2md.  Thank you again for your continued support of the club, we couldn’t do it without you:

Under The Lights: Spartan Invite
By Kenichi Osawa

Friday night the Michigan Men’s Water Polo team traveled to East Lansing for this year’s first match with the defending Big Ten Champion Michigan State Spartans.  The ‘B’ Team game was at 7:20 and the ‘A’ team played at 8:10.  At the outset of the B-game a light sprinkle began to fall and the lights had come on.  The B squad went down 2-0 early.  However, they would battle back from being down 6-2 behind the leadership of Junior Jack Tesar and great goalie play by sophomore Ian Waters.  Newcomers to the team: Brad Frost, Max Kilibarta, Matt Kneisser and Garrett Wood added life to the offense in the second half. The b-squad brought the Spartan’s within 2 goals during the fourth quarter to be down only 6-4.  After an unfortunate break-away that led to a counter attack goal for the Spartans giving the Spartan side a 3 goal lead, the Wolverine’s B-team would come up short, falling to the Spartan’s B side 8-4. 

By the time of the A-team’s sprint the sprinkle had turned into a steady rain.  The rain did not deter the hundred plus, clearly uninhibited, Spartan fans from polluting the air with their cheers of: “Go Green, Go White!”  To counter, the Michigan cheering section was filled with dedicated friends and families that traveled all the way to East Lansing.  I personally will take quality over quantity any time.  Thanks again guys!

Behind their enamored fans the Spartans jumped out to a 1, 2, and then 3 goal lead.  Despite the score, the Wolverines’ persistence would soon pay off.  After many squandered chances, that included a shot that hit the side post and skirted along the goal line, the Boys in Blue would answer with a counter attack goal to make the game 3-1 going into half time.  After the restart, the Spartans started off hot scoring 2 unanswered goals jumping out to a 5-1 lead.  The Wolverines would not go down without a fight, as newcomer to the team, Freshman Michael Abell-Venit, would score with a laser from up top with a man advantage.  By the fourth quarter the rain had turned into a downpour.   Then, during a 6 on 4 advantage, studly sophomore, Grant Cole, converted a skip shot to pull within 2 goals.  Unfortunately for the Wolverines it proved to be too little too late, as they conceded a goal in the dying seconds for a final score of 6-3.   The result was disappointing but it was a well-fought game by the Wolverines and their dedicated, sopping wet fans. 

The Wolverines returned to East Lansing on Saturday with a new vigor.  They opened their campaign with a 10-1 victory over an undermanned Iowa team.  The only goals scored in the game were by Michigan players because the Iowa team borrowed sophomore Riley Cole, who scored against his own team. The great defense continued in the second game of the day against University of Notre Dame.  Ray Viviano was a stud in goal, only letting in shots off of 5-meter penalties.  Behind a hat trick by newcomer, Graduate Student Steven Brown, the Wolverines won 9-2.  The day was capped with a 9-1 win over Lindenwood “B”  After a long day the defense was still able to execute and shut down the hole set and get a few quick counter goals.  The team was wiped by the end of the day and was excited to go back to Ben “Tay” Hubbard’s house to watch the recorded Michigan vs. Notre Dame football game.  Needless to say, the football game did not disappoint and helped psych up the Wolverines for their Sunday Match against the Lindenwood “A” team. 

Sunday morning the Lindenwood Lions certainly brought their “A” game.   In a very physical game, sophomore Chris ‘Tako’ Takahashi shined, directing the offense, playing whole set D, and drawing kick-outs by playing an intense brand of water polo that the rest of the team was forced to keep up with.  Thanks to his efforts, the Wolverines went into half   with a 4-3 lead.  Due to some miscues on offense the Lions stormed back in the second half scoring 6 goals in order to defeat the Wolverines 9-7 for the final game of the tournament.  The Wolverines finished the tournament with a 3 – 2 record and recorded a 6th place finish out of 16 teams. 

I would also like to give a special thanks to Barbara Barry for organizing the parents who brought food for the team this weekend.   We are all so thankful and her pasta salad is delicious!  Also, to all the families and friends that came to support us over the weekend.  Finally I would like to thank the efforts of Jack ‘Tazer’ Tesar, Ray Viviano, Ben ‘air hubbard’ Hubbard, and Peter DeJonge for continuing to help keep the Men’s Water Polo club running smoothly.

Thank you friends, families, alumni and boosters for your continued support of the University of Michigan Men’s Water Polo team:



Hillbilly Invitational Champions
By Ben Hubbard

We would like to start off by saying thank you to Will Hart for letting us use the Pioneer Pool, Ray the IMSB Lifeguard, the University of Tennessee Water Polo Club, coach Tony Anderson, Paul Reynolds, Ann Hubbard for a delicious team dinner and all of the parents, alumni, and supporters of Michigan Water Polo. So far the season has started off amazingly thanks to all of these great people.  Thank you for making us better water polo players and better people.

A water polo tournament is technically the reason we all went down to Tennessee; however, we only played games for 80 minutes, not including time outs. We each spent 16 hours driving, not including stops, in a cramped car with five other dudes; so it would be stupid to not talk about that. My van consisted of Ray Viviano, Levi Barry, Kyle Overman, Paul (Ringo) Hernley, Sam Rosen and myself. I think one of the best ways to get to know someone is to see what kind of music, movies and books they listen to. On the way down we listened to a fair amount of country, which is not one of my more commonly chosen genres. Nevertheless Ringo is a self-proclaimed country boy after going to undergrad in Clemson, South Carolina. Ringo is now pursuing a PhD in Chemical Engineering and answered a ton of questions about my grad school application’s Statement of Purpose. The grad students are one of the coolest and most unique parts of the Michigan Water Polo team (if you know Dmitry and Evan you know what I mean). Sam is also a fan of country so we listened to their iPods for a while before settling on Johnny Cash’s ‘At Folsom Prison’. After a while we switched to some Classic Rock for Kyle before listening to some of the music that Ray Viviano made over the summer. To check out his music go to his soundcloud For those of you who have never been, the Smoky Mountains scenery is almost as beautiful as Tennessee women.

One of my favorite parts of playing sports is the fact that I get to eat anything and everything in sight. On such a long car ride, you have to stop, stretch your legs and of course eat candy (Sameer, I hope you’re reading this). Our first stop was at a Waffle House that Ringo claimed was the cleanest he had ever seen, shown below. This set me off on a quest for Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles, which I had heard so much about. Long story short, Roscoe’s is based in California and there are none anywhere close to where we were, although there is a Roscoe’s Auto Parts in Kentucky, which we almost went to. We also stopped at Dunkin Donuts before pulling into a KFC in Kentucky for dinner. As it turns out we were only 10 miles from the original KFC in Corbin. It was heartbreaking to be so close without going but we had to travel on. But don’t feel bad, the consolation was that we stopped at another waffle house so I could combine my KFC chicken with waffles. This would have been the best meal of the weekend except we stopped at an awesome chicken chain called Zaxby’s and then ate the best barbecue in Knoxville at Dead End Barbecue.  After that we went to see the movie ‘Our Idiot Brother’ as a team. I highly recommend it, it was funny and had a good message to just have fun, keep it simple and trust people.

Figure 1: Waffle House Stop # 1


Figure 3: Tay’s Dinner at Dead End Barbecue

Figure 4: Some team members at Dead End Barbecue

After practice on Wednesday we ate a meal at my home in Ann Arbor cooked by my mom. We ate Pulled Pork, Chicken, Corn/Tomato Salad, Potatoes and Brownies with Ice Cream and Raspberries. Everyone is shown here about to explode. It was great.

Figure 5: The team at Tay’s House for Dinner

The water polo wasn't so bad either. We had a great week of preseason practices leading up to the tournament. Preseason consisted of two-a-days: morning conditioning run by the captains in the antique IMSB pool and then a skill practice run by coach Tony in the evenings. The attitude at practice was great. Everyone who came, worked very hard and I heard many compliments on Tony’s  practice design. The philosophy of our team is that you are going to play how you practice and that preparation is key.

Once we arrived in Knoxville, Tennessee our first game was against Purdue. I always get fired up to play them (and I bet Tony does too) because I went to Indiana University before coming here and they are in-state rivals (I also hate Kentucky). The Wolverines got up early thanks to strong play by Senior-Levi Barry, Sophomore- Chris "Tako" Takahashi, and Junior-Sam Rosen (when he wasn’t shooting lob shots).  Just before the half-time buzzer sounded, sophmore Grant Cole hit a half-court shot to put us up 4-1. The Boilermakers fought back in the 3rd and 4th, but some crucial saves by Junior goalie Ray Viviano allowed the Wolverines to pull off a 6-4 win to start off the tournament.

For our second and fianl game of the day we played Saint Louis at noon. They jumped out to a 2-0 lead with some great offense and led 3-1 after the first quarter. Over the next three quarters the Wolverines stepped up their defense with 2 steals by Kyle Overman in the 3rd period and great whole set D by Grant Cole, this led to 3 quarters of shut out water polo leaving the Bilikins helpless on offense. I don’t care who you are, that’s good defense. Behind great D the Wolverines won the game 7-3.

The third game of the tournament was on Sunday morning against the University of Virginia Cavaliers. The Wolverines started the scoring fast and early, going up 4-0 in the first with goals by Senior Ben Spulber and Sophomore Kurt "the burt" Jensen. From there the Wolverines didn't look back. Of the 15 players that came to the tournament 7 scored in the game against the Cavaliers which epitomized the unselfish play that the Wolverines displayed all weekend, culminating in a 12-1 victory.

Winning those three games put us in the Championship against Tampa at 12:45. They are a Masters group who had beaten Michigan State in the semifinal game that followed ours. Against Tampa we continued playing strong defense and got some clutch goals in a tough, gritty, back and forth game. After four quarters the game was tied, which put us into sudden-death overtime. After successfully defending a 5 on 6 opportunity, Peter DeJonge was able to beat his man on the counter and finished with a man on his back to win the Championship of the Hillbilly tournament 6-5. Paul, ‘Ringo’ Hernley, Kenichi Osawa and Adam Berry also had consistently great performances. I was named MVP of the tournament, but the award (rightfully) usually goes to a player on the best TEAM. As Bill Russell said "When I was in college, I found out that the MVPs and all-league team and all that are hugely political. So I decided that if I win every game, that becomes historical fact, not anyone’s opinion."

The weekend was one of the most fun of my young life, and I hope we get to do it again soon. Although the team did very well, watching the film I can still see so many ways we can improve as a team. We have a lot of potential, but right now it is just that; it is what it is. An 8-hour car ride is a lot better staring at a trophy though. We arrived in Ann Arbor exhausted. Despite the fact we spent all weekend together we still hang out pretty much every day. This is a special team on and off the field. Hopefully we can show you what I see every day at MSU this weekend and at our home tournament in October.

Stay Hungry,
Captain Ben / Tay / ‘Sheed / Air Hubbard

If any players, parents or alumni want a computer file of any of the games we would be happy to copy them to an external hard drive. Dvd is also a possibility, but it will take some time to record and I am quite busy with school and practice. If anyone has a dvd recorder and would like to record copies we can send these out.

Thank you for your continued support of the Michigan Men's Water Polo team:

Notre Dame Tournement - March 26-27, 2011

The new and improved version of the Michigan Men’s Water Polo team went to it’s first tournament on March  26-27th at the Notre Dame Alumni tournament. The team had been practicing a couple times a week and it was a good chance to build some chemistry, have fun and see what we can do. Three of our seniors, Dan Basile, Robbie Gomez and Sameer Oak, played their final tournament with the team and newcomer Kyle Overman got his first game action.

The games were played in a very very very long 30 m pool at Notre Dame. Ben and Robbie were also lucky enough to be able to walk on the basketball court and pretend to be Ben Hansborough and Luke Harangody playing one-on-one.

The first game was against the Notre Dama Alumni, whom the Wolverines easily dispatched 10-3. The next game was a gritty 8-4 win against an undermanned but feisty Loyola squad. The next game was against Notre Dame and a fired up Irish crowd. Realizing that we would have to withstand a strong early burst of energy from the home team, we decided to bring Tako(Chris Takahashi) and Tay (Ben Hubbard) off of the bench. Notre Dame jumped out to an early 2 goal lead and Michigan had to claw back slowly, pulling away from the home team in the second half. The final game was against St. Louis, who was 2-1, while the Wolverines were 3-0. A loss would have meant a tie and giving up the tiebreaker. Once again St. Louis pulled ahead early and once again Michigan slowly fought their way back.

Chris Takahashi was a standout performer for the weekend along with Dan Basile, shown below regretting a missed shot (top) and Levi Barry, shown below contesting a 5 on 6 pass. It was nice to win our first tournament of the season and begin undefeated, 4-0. However, this is only the beginning and the competition will get much tougher.

I left Notre Dame remembering the words of the wise Janitor from Rudy. If you have no idea what we’re talking about watch this video:

“… and you’re also going to walk out of here with a degree from the University of Notre Dame Michigan. In this lifetime you don’t have to prove nothing to nobody except yourself.  And after what you’ve gone through if you haven’t done that by now, it ain’t never going to happen. Now go on out there.”




Dear Families, Friends, and Alumni of Michigan Men's Water Polo,

I hope the new year has started off as eventful for you as it has for
the team. Much like Michigan's football team, we regrettably had to
say goodbye and thank you to to our coach from the past year. Also,
much like the football team the nation-wide coaching search was a long
and arduous one that had myself and the other board members tired and
irritable. After scouring the country and being turned down by
notables like Jim Harbaugh, (yeah he turned us down too, go figure) we
found the perfect fit right in our backyard. With the press
conference set for later this week, I would like to formally announce
Tony Anderson as the new head coach for the Michigan Mens Water Polo
team. Mr. Anderson, or Tony as I have always know him, is a long time
Ann Arborite, with a strong passion for water polo. We are excited to
welcome Tony to the team to help us finally get that elusive Big Ten
title. Working with Tony this year, as assistant coach, will be Paul
Reynolds who we are welcoming back for his second year with the team.
Paul is a recent Michigan graduate who coached last season, working
closely with the B-team.

For fundraising, the team has been busy working the Varsity and Club
Women's water polo teams tournaments. In the month of March, we are
excited to participate in a Cancer awareness fashion show and our
first tournament of the new year. Some of the guys will be strutting
there stuff in the latest and greatest garments from local stores to
raise money for a summer camp for kids with cancer. The tournament is
in Notre Dame, March 26-27, we are all looking forward to getting back
in the water, no matter what kind of shape we are in.

Thanks for your continued support of the Michigan Men's Club Water
Polo team. Hope this message finds you in good health and happy days.
To support the Michigan men?s water polo team, please visit us at:


Kenichi Osawa

Dear Families, Friends, and Alumni of Michigan Men's Water Polo,

Happy New Years and Happy Holidays to everyone! 2010 was an extremely
exciting year for the team, and along with the runner-up finish in the
Big Ten we also had many great individual accomplishments that are
notable including:
Big Ten 1st team honors for Nick Mansfield, Sam Hoekstra, and Levi Barry
Big Ten 2nd Team honors for Mathew Woelfel
Big Ten Coach of the year Ron Marsh
and finally Big Ten MVP for Nick Mansfield

Moving onto 2011 we are out with the old and in with the new as our
whole board is new faces. The Vice President is Ray Viviano,
Secretary is Jack Tesar, Treasurer is Peter Dejonge, captains are Ben
Hubbard, Patrick Trabert and the new president and captain is myself,
Kenichi Osawa. The old board members did lots of work that was
greatly appreciated by the club, with a special thanks to our old
President Robbie Gomez. Working together we hope to be able to
continue the great work the old board has done with the club. We are
all excited to start off-season practices and plan to attend a couple
of off-season tournaments as well. Thank you for your continued
support of the club and all of the players!

Kenichi Osawa

Captain and President

By Robbie Gomez

In a season where the Michigan men’s water polo team expected to finish atop the Big Ten for the first time since 2004, all eyes were on the weekend of October 30-31 all season long.

The Big Ten Championships were held in West Lafayette, IN this past weekend, on Purdue’s picturesque (when not covered in construction) campus. Coming in as the #2 seed, Michigan would start their quest for the Big Ten crown against a very physical Iowa Hawkeyes squad who were desperate to escape the conference cellar. With the Maize & Blue’s offense finally clicking on all cylinders, this was a no-doubter from the get-go. Save for a half dozen weak perimeter shots, Iowa was utterly stifled by the suffocating Wolverines defense. On the other end of the pool, Michigan was able to spread the ball around, work their offensive game plan, and utilize the full shot clock en route to a 15-goal outburst as the game went to U-M 15-4.

As Michigan cruised into the semifinals, they were about to be met by the hungry home team. The Purdue faithful created a rousing atmosphere as they tried to will the Boilermakers into the conference championship. However, the Wolverines were in no mood to be upset, as the #7 team in the country jumped ahead 3-0 early in the 1st quarter. Purdue eventually was able to cease the debauchery, but was never able to figure out the U-M offense, surrendering goals from the inside and out. By the end of the game, the deflated Purdue fans watched their team succumb to the Wolverines by a final score of 13-8.

The Michigan State Spartans defeated Illinois 7-4 earlier on Saturday to put them into the Championship Game. That meant, for the 3rd year in a row, the Big Ten title game would be between the two teams from the Great Lakes State. Last season, the Spartans won in 2-OT, 8-7.
Though U-M had not yet defeated MSU in the 2010 season, the gap between the two teams was unintelligible coming into this contest. With each school boasting a boisterous supporting crowd, there was a not-so-subtle electricity phasing in and out of the Purdue Aquatic Center. Michigan was eager for their turn as Big Ten kings, and Michigan State wasn’t ready to leave their throne.

MSU won the opening sprint of the game, but was unable to capitalize on their first possession of the game. Though the game got off to a slow start offensively, Michigan went up 1-0 on a sleek step-out from senior captain Nick Mansfield (Rockford, MI) midway through the 1st quarter. The two teams traded goals in a low scoring first half that saw Michigan leading 3-2 at the end of the 2nd quarter.

Though the Spartans tied the score early in the 3rd, Michigan went on a scoring barrage in the period to go up 6-3. State rallied back once again, though, and was able to get the score the 7-6 Michigan by the end of the 3rd quarter. With the 4th quarter and that elusive Big Ten title looming, a defensive struggle was sure to ensue.

Defensive breakdowns were the culprit as Michigan State was able to scratch and claw their way to 3 goals in the final quarter. Down by 2 with less than two minutes remaining in the game, junior captain Levi Barry (Portage, MI) scrapped his way for a huge goal to narrow the gap to 9-8 MSU. After stealing the ball from the Spartans late in their shot clock, the Wolverines had one final possession to tie the game up and send it into OT. Working the ball around the perimeter, the final shot sailed just over the upper-right of the cage. State ran the remaining time on the clock out to clinch their sixth consecutive conference title. Michigan would, once again, have to settle for 2nd.

The team had come a long, long way from the beginning to the end of the season, but this particular loss to MSU was one of the toughest the program has had to endure. With Michigan playing both their best offense and defense of the season at the right time, it appeared that the title was theirs. However, Michigan State proved why they are always up there in the Big Ten and the country with their constant ability to find ways to win games, especially in the 4th quarter. For that, I congratulate Michigan State for an impressive victory and I wish them luck at Nationals.

Though we must look ahead to next season far earlier than any of us would have liked, the program is still in great shape. In a year where the roster had a 1:1 returning guys to new guys ratio, Michigan should expect to continue to develop their young talent and compete for the Big Ten crown next season. Though the goals for this season were not met, I will always remember the poise that this team carried – through the victories and everything else. GO BLUE!

To support the Michigan men’s water polo team, please visit us at:


The Michigan men’s water polo program was awarded CWPA Team Academic All-American honors for this past season after posting a team GPA of 3.29 – good for seventh in the country! Additionally, ten individuals were named to the CWPA Academic All-American team. Those players are:

  • Levi Barry (Sophomore – Portage, MI)
  • Dan Basile (Junior – Grosse Pointe, MI)
  • Robbie Gomez (Junior – Troy, MI)
  • Dave Hiemstra (Senior – Ann Arbor, MI)
  • Sameer Oak (Junior – Troy, MI)
  • Tim Raben (Senior – Lutherville, MD)
  • Sam Rosen (Freshman – Evanston, IL
  • Matt Rowland (Senior – St. Charles, IL)
  • Ray Viviano (Freshman – Ann Arbor, MI)
  • Matt Woelfel (Sophomore – East Grand Rapids, MI)


Congratulations to everyone who was named an individual Academic All-American and congratulations to the entire team for their strong representation of the University of Michigan in the pool and in the classroom. GO BLUE!!!


January 29th, 2010

At the team’s annual post-season banquet, junior Nick Mansfield (Rockford, MI) was named the team’s Most Valuable Player as voted on by the players. In his first season for the Maize and Blue after transferring from the U.S. Naval Academy, Mansfield led the team with 50 goals scored with an impressive 52% shooting percentage.

Junior Dan Basile (Grosse Pointe, MI) was named the team’s Most Improved Player after firmly grasping the team’s go-to-lefty role. Basile upgraded his skill set over the off-season and became a well-rounded player that contributed to a 200% increase in his goals scored from the previous season.

The final player-voted award given out at the banquet went to freshman Ray Viviano (Ann Arbor, MI) who was named the team’s Rookie of the Year. The first-year goalie showed tremendous poise all throughout the season and helped lead the team to an 18-5 record and a Big Ten regular season crown (2nd place overall).

SeniSenior Paul Reynolds did not leave the banquet empty-handed as coaches Bob Sala and Drew Hansz gave Reynolds the prestigious Coaches’ Award for his ability to “take the team to the next level.” Reynolds was a standout utility player this past season, leading the team in assists (14) and drawn kick-outs (19) while adding 20 goals and 30 steals.

The CWPA’s All-Big Ten team featured three Wolverines. Representing Michigan were first-teamers Matt Woelfel (sophomore, East Grand Rapids, MI) and Ryan Pryor (graduate,ongratulations to all of the post-season award winners and great job to everyone on the 2009 Michigan men’s water polo team. It was a great season and we look forward to making 2010 a year to remember. GO BLUE!!!


October 25th, 2009

By: Robbie Gomez

The 2009 Big Ten Championships were held in Madison, WI this past weekend. The top-seeded Michigan Wolverines entered the tournament on a 13-game winning streak and seeking their first conference title since 2004. The team spent the final week of practice leading up to Big Tens working on the finer points of the team’s offense in hopes of finding that extra spark that could lead them to the National Championship tournament in Gainesville, FL.

The road to the Big Ten title game would go through two teams in pool play. If U-M made it out unscathed, they would earn the right to play for the conference championship. In the weekend’s first game and for the third time this season, the opponent would be the Purdue Boilermakers. Having familiarized themselves with the opponent, the Wolverines were not surprised with what they saw from the fifth-seeded Boilermakers and were able to handle them from the get-go. Michigan protected a lead that they earned very early on en route to a sturdy 10-3 triumph.

Next up was the fourth-seed – the Indiana Hoosiers. Like with Purdue, facing IU was an old hat for Michigan. Like the previous matches between these two teams this season, the Maize and Blue came out on top. However, despite falling behind early on, the Hoosiers scrapped away all the way until the end, managing to make the score a little closer by the end. The Wolverines unleashed another strong offensive performance, though, winning 13-8.

After skating by their first two opponents, Michigan clinched a berth in the conference title game for the ninth time in the last ten seasons. The opponent, like so many times before, was the Michigan State Spartans. Having defeated the defending national champs earlier in the season, the Wolverines were eager to put an end to MSU’s four year-stranglehold on the conference championship.

Sophomore Matt Woelfel (East Grand Rapids, MI) won the opening sprint for Michigan, trying to set the winning tone from the start. The Wolverines executed their offense fairly well in the opening quarter, but they were unable to capitalize on their scoring chances. State, however, was able to take advantage of an early 6-5 opportunity to end the first quarter up by one.

In the second quarter, the two rivals made a point to stop the 2-M game. However, the game opened up after junior Nick Mansfield (Rockford, MI) was able to get the Wolverines on the board midway through the second quarter. Both teams traded goals late in the period to go into halftime deadlocked at three apiece.

The third period was more of the same, as both teams struggled to pull away from each other. Michigan’s bread and butter all season long was drawing kick-outs. In this game, however, that was not the case, as Michigan State took on that role, drawing seven to U-M’s four. Despite it all, Michigan’s hovering defense led to numerous steals, preventing State from having many genuine scoring opportunities. Michigan led by two late in the second half, but Michigan State quickly stomped back in to tie up the Wolverines and eventually go up by one. Woelfel scored a late-game goal to tie it back up and send the game into overtime.

The first overtime period proved to be an exact replica of the regulation play as MSU and U-M traded goals. Tied 6-6, the two teams entered the second overtime period fatigued but determined to win. Woelfel muscled a ball into the back of the Spartan net early in the period to give the Wolverines a 7-6 lead. However, MSU showed why they are a championship team year in and year out as they scored the equalizer from the perimeter the next time down the pool. Barely drawing a kick-out with 30 seconds left in the game, State was able to work their 6-5 offense and score the go-ahead goal with just a few seconds remaining. In a last ditch effort to keep their title hopes afloat, senior Paul Reynolds (Okemos, MI) fired a backhander that hit the inside part of the far goalpost and the MSU goalkeeper was able to snatch it away before it trickled into the net.

It was a great game that, unfortunately, Michigan State won. For the fourth time in five seasons, Michigan was the Big Ten’s Runner-up. Michigan’s season may have come to an abrupt ending meaning it will be the Spartans – not the Wolverines – who must get ready to go to Gainesville. And while the Maize and Blue’s ultimate goal was not achieved, the team had some incredible accomplishments along the way that cannot be ignored:

  • 18-5 record was the best since 2004
  • At one point, the team was riding a 15-game winning streak
  • Big Ten Regular Season Champions (8-0 record)
  • Ranked in the CWPA National Top Ten all season long (season high #5, currently #10)
  • Ryan Pryor  (Graduate,Holland, MI) was named the Sept. 14 Big Ten Player of the Week
  • Paul Reynolds (Senior, Okemos, MI) was named to the October 12 Big Ten Player of the Week Honor Roll

Though the ending was disappointing, it was, altogether, a successful season. The team enters the off-season with a lot of unfinished business and is sure to come back next season even hungrier than before. To all of the friends and family of the team, thank you for making all of the tournaments this year so special. And to all of the departing players, thank you for your time with Michigan men’s water polo – each and every one of you will be appropriately missed. But now it is time to get ready for next year, as the Wolverines go after the Big Ten Championship harder than ever. GO BLUE!!!

In Ann Arbor? Play polo summer 2009 with these opportunities!

1st opportunity: Great Lakes Water Polo. Look at the calender once you follow the link below, and just show up whenever you wish. It will cost $7/person/practice. The girls teammembers are invited to attend whenever they wish as well.

2nd opportunity: Summer polo with Chris Keenan. If you would like to register for that one, please contact For that, you fill out a form and pay on the first day you show up. It is June 15-July 30, costs $50 for all of it or $25 if you only show up part-time. There is also drop-in polo at Huron's pool (Sunday's 4-6pm).

If you are in Ann Arbor this summer, please take advantage of these two opportunities. If you are not, make your own!

Down economy can't stop wolverines
March 1st, 2009

By: Robbie pastor Gomez

Even though the excitement of last season has waned over the past few months, the Michigan Men's Water Polo team is busy ensuring that next season is even more spectacular.

The Wolverines have been busy working on their skills and recruiting new talent in addition to working on several fundraisers. The team has already begun working Men's Lacrosse games and the Women's Water Polo tournaments. As always, though, outside donations are greatly appreciated and can be made on the Donation page.

Looking ahead, the team will continue to work on fundraisers in addition to practicing three times a week at Canham Natatorium—the schedule can be found under the Schedule&Results. In addition, the team is planning on playing in an off-season tournament so be sure to stay tuned for more information regarding that.

Thanks for supporting Michigan Men's Water Polo and Go Blue!

Maize and blue-mington:
Big Ten Championship Tournament
november 3rd, 2008

By: Robbie Pastor Gomez

          The Wolverines entered the 2008 Big Ten men’s water polo championships (October 31 – November 2) in Bloomington, IN unranked and underappreciated. Having defeated an astonishing four currently-ranked opponents (#19 Minnesota, #13 Purdue, #10 Grand Valley State, and #8 Lindenwood), Michigan got to Big Tens with a chip on its shoulder. Though they had already proved themselves to themselves, it was time to prove themselves to everyone else.

            The first game of the weekend (Friday, October 31) was against Iowa “B” since The Ohio State University dropped out of the postseason tournament a mere two days before it began. The young and inexperienced Hawkeyes received a rude welcoming to Big Ten water polo, as U of M romped its way to a 19-1 victory behind strong contributions from the entire team. The defense gave up very few shots and the offense kept finding sinking them into the back of the cage. Needless to say, it was one impressive HalloWIN.

            The second of two round robin games came against one of the ranked opponents in the form of the Purdue Boilermakers on Saturday, November 1. Remembering the epic quadruple overtime Wolverine victory earlier in the season at Iowa Invitational, both teams were ready to fight to the finish in this match. Coming out strong early, the Maize and Blue took an early commanding lead over the Boilers and never looked back en route to an impressive 10-4 victory. More importantly, though, the decisive victory over the strong Purdue team vaulted the Wolverines into the Big Ten semifinals.

            On Sunday, November 2, Michigan would play a morning game against the host Indiana Hoosiers that would determine if their afternoon game that day would be for first or third place. With both teams lined up and ready to go before the start of the game, it was clear that no one would be running away with anything. As Matt Woelfel won the opening sprint, the game started out with a slight edge for the Michigan men. Throughout the course of the game, U of M never let up the defensive pressure on Indiana, continually denying them good scoring opportunities. On the offensive end, Michigan constantly found themselves in good scoring situations, but struggled to capitalize on a good number of them, a credit to Indian’s strong will to win. However, the Michigan attack proved to be too much for the Hoosiers as Michigan’s depth and team speed dragged down the tournament’s hosts. A visibly tired Indiana team could never overcome the Wolverines as Michigan was able to run the clock out at the end of the fourth quarter leaving the final score at Michigan: 4 Indiana: 3. The impressive victory elated the Michigan bench and fans, but the team couldn’t let it get to their heads as a more daunting opponent would be waiting for them later that day.

            As the nation’s top-ranked team, the Michigan State Spartans have been dominating Big Ten water polo for the past two years and, in turn, have developed a certain swagger that has not exactly endeared them to their opponents. As their fiercest rival, it has been a goal of Michigan’s to knock the State off of their self-proclaimed pedestal, making the 2008 Big Ten Championship game a highly-anticipated contest.

            With both teams eager to show the other up, the game started out with brutal intensity. The Spartans drew first blood and, midway through the first quarter, appeared to be in command of the match. At the end of the first quarter, MSU boasted a three goal lead over U of M. However, Michigan countered State with a very impressive, dominant second quarter, closing the gap to only one. At halftime, the score was only 5-4 State. All of a sudden, the #1 Spartans were in danger of getting knocked off by the underdog Wolverines and everyone in the building could sense it.

            However, good teams are good for a reason, and Michigan State took over in the third quarter behind a relentless offensive attack. While the Wolverines played hard, they were not able to surmount the Spartans and MSU led by a score of 10-4 late in the fourth quarter. Michigan was able to scrap a few more late offensive attacks, but in the end, it wasn’t enough and U of M dropped the championship game to State, 10-5. However, in the process, it appeared as though Michigan finally garnered the respect they have been seeking all season long. After the game, the MSU head coach was overheard saying that, at halftime, for the first time all year, he was concerned that his team might not win the Big Ten championship. As Michigan would be headed back to Ann Arbor to start the offseason early, Michigan State would be headed for Athens, OH for Nationals, but not before finally respecting the Michigan Wolverines.

            On their way to becoming the 2008 Big Ten runner-ups, the Wolverines were led by some outstanding play by three individuals in particular. Being named to the All-Big Ten second team for the second year in a row was departing goalie Brad Hoff. Another 2007 second team selection, Ryan Pryor was named to the All-Big Ten first team along with newcomer Steve Weinberg. However, it took the entire team to get to where Michigan water polo is today, with contributions coming from a number of different players.

            As the Michigan men’s water polo players packed themselves back into Van Awesome, Van Gogh, Van Old, and Van Steve Richards’ car, it was clear that there is some unfinished business for the team. All there is to say now is, next year, look out Spartans.        

Summer practice in Ann arbor
june 14, 2007

There is a water polo opportunity for people in the Ann Arbor area. There will be scrimmages every Monday and Wednesday night at EMU's Natatorium from 8-10pm until August 10th. The fee is nominal: it only costs $5 per session or $50 for the entire summer.   This is a great chance to get some extra practice if you are in the area for the summer.

In addition, Great Lakes water polo will be holding practice at Ann Arbor Pioneer. These practices are Monday through Thursday from 5:30 to 7:00PM. There is a small fee; however the experience will make it worth your while.

Coach Drew and John will be holding swim practices in the mornings at Walnut Creek. These practices are Tuesday through Saturday 6:30 to 9:00AM. For more information about this opportunity email Drew at

Official practices are tentatively set to begin August 20th.  If you would like to attend pre-season but your move-in date is after August 20th, please email Joe at

Blue Ends Up Second At States
November 14th 2006

    Our season concluded with the Big Ten Tournament. In our first weekend of the tournament we found ourselves up with an early lead which allowed the opportunity for the starters to take a break and the remainder of the team to hop in the pool and play. Our second game proved a little more difficult. Illinois came out ready to play and provided some stiff competition. After a slow first half we were able to break out in the third quarter (Michigan's Quarter) and easily passed by the Illini. With a definitive victory over IU we prepared ourselves for the championship game against MSU. We found ourselves ahead early in the first quarter and were able to maintain our lead through the half. Unfortunately MSU was able to get in 3 quick unanswered goals out of set near the end of the third quarter, a loss we were never able to overcome. The game ended 6 to 8 MSU. Our second place finish was accompanied by Jon Thomas on the 1st Team All Tournament and Andy "Debo" Dabrowski and Dan Kurdys on the 2nd Team All Tournament

Water Polo Wants Big Ten and You
September 25, 2006

By Michael Eisenstein, for the Daily   

Locker room chatter is solely about it.

A coach's countdown leads up to it.

National club championship hopes rely on it.

For the Michigan Men's club water polo team, winning a Big Ten championship is the only way the Wolverines can enter the National Club championships - the team's benchmark for success in recent years.

In club water polo, only the winners of conference tournaments are invited to the nationals, making it imperative to win the conference championship.

Intensifying the race to the nationals is Michigan's loss last season in the Big Ten Championship game to Michigan State - preventing the Wolverines from winning a Big Ten title for the third year in a row.

With last year's season-ending loss leaving a bitter taste in its mouth, Michigan cannot think about anything besides returning to the National Club Championships. And that requires a return trip to the conference title game.

It's a reachable goal considering the success the water polo team has had recently. Michigan has won three National Club Championships, six Big Ten Championships and has four second-place finishes in the Big Ten in the past 15 years.

Led by co-captains and Big Ten first team members John Thomas and Dan Kurdys, new coaches Drew Hansz and Bob Sala have the team hitting its stride two tournaments into the season.

The first tournament for the Wolverines took place two weeks ago in East Lansing, where Michigan State hosted the Spartan Invitational.

"Everyone was a little rusty because it was our first tournament and the coaches were just starting to get a feel (for the team)," Zatkoff said of the team's 2-2 performance.

But the Wolverine Invitational, held last week, was a much different story.

Zatkoff said he felt strongly that the team performed much closer to its potential in the most recent tournament. Zatkoff also said the performance was even more impressive because of the tough week of practice preceding the Wolverine Invitational, resulting in the team playing tired. Returning starter junior John MacDonald was enthusiastic in reaction to the better overall showing by the Wolverines.

But Michigan's loses to No. 1 Michigan State and No. 2 Grand Valley State show that the team must play even better in order to make the National Club Championships. For now, the Wolverines have fixed their focus on beating their main rival, Michigan State, whom they will likely face in the Big Ten Championships, and there are still three more tournaments for the 12th-ranked Wolverines to continue improving.

Looking to the future, the team also has good prospects for the years to come. Freshmen Paul Reynold, Ben Cousineau and Matt Rowlend are the future and have already begun to contribute this year.

This cycle of good talent coming into the program is not out of the norm for water polo. According to Zatkoff, most people on the "A" team have about eight to ten years experience. But if people without experience want to get involved in water polo, a "B" team also exists. It consists mostly of people with only swimming experience, often because their high school did not have a water polo team. Zatkoff said the easiest way to get involved is to check out the team's website and fill out a recruitment form.

But for right now, with 53 days until the Big Ten tournament, Michigan only has a conference championship on its mind.

Water Polo Looks to Repeat
October 4, 2005

By Eileen Hengel, For the Michigan Daily

Repeating is never easy, especially when you're coming off a Big Ten Championship and a third-place national finish.

But that's the goal of the Michigan men's club water polo team, and, if early results are any indication, it is well on its way to accomplishing it.

Starting the season strong with a 6-2 record, the team heads into the Hoosier Invite at Bloomington and Big Ten Championship in East Lansing in search of a repeat.

Losing much of their starting team from last season, the Wolverines rely heavily on not only the performance of the few returning players but also the play of a select group of freshmen.

Bringing substantial speed to the team, freshman Matt Burke easily found a starting position on the A team this season. Nevertheless, returning members, such as fifth-year senior Ryan Wyatt, senior John Thomas and junior Dan Krudys remain the reason for Michigan success through the beginning of the season.

"(Wyatt) has been playing with the team for almost 10 years. He brings a level of experience and skill that is hard to achieve without the time and effort he puts into his game," assistant coach Dan Perout said.

The season began before class started with two practices daily. In its first outing at the Spartan Invitational on Sept. 10-12, Michigan played against the Michigan Masters, a team consisting of graduated students throughout Michigan. Michigan narrowly escaped with a 13-12 victory.

"Our first tournament was difficult because we were just coming together as a team, and a lot of the success involved in water polo comes from anticipating the cuts and moves of your teammates," Perout said.

Michigan faced Michigan State twice throughout the year, first at the Michigan State Invitational, losing 2-10, and second at the Boilermaker Invitational Sept. 16-18, falling 4-5.

"In the first game (Michigan State) basically out swam us," Perout said. "In the second game, I really think that we played the best we could have possibly played but sometimes the ball just doesn't fall your way."

As the season progressed, the team started coming together while still learning from its losses.

"The losses to Michigan State were difficult because they are our biggest rival," junior Glenn Legacki said. "But I think we learned a lot from the game, and we're probably going to have to face them again at Big Tens.

Though the losses proved hard on the team, it experienced significant victories over Illinois, 8-6, Miami (Ohio), 16-11, and Purdue, 12-10.

"With each tournament, I believe, we become more and more of a team," Perout said.

Men's Water polo swims under the radar
february 8 , 2005

By Billy Heisler, For the Michigan Daily

The Michigan men's water polo team often fades behind the hype and marketing of the University's major sports. Yet this group of poised individuals has tales of camaraderie, commitment and accomplishment that equal those that are constantly in the spotlight.

In late August of 2003, a group of players assembled, immediately forming a balanced, focused and cohesive unit. All but the incoming freshman experienced a bitter end to their previous season. The Wolverines were denied a spot in the National Championship by Michigan State, losing by one goal in the qualifying round. But the team had every reason to be confident about its chances of taking home a national title. With their final season approaching, senior star goalie Jeff Bronson and coach Vaughn Cooper wanted to leave it all in the pool, harboring no regrets. The rest of the team shared this vision, practicing hard and playing each game as if it were its last.

After finishing the regular season with a strong 18-4 record, the polo players ferociously awaited a possible rematch with the Spartans in the qualifying tournament, the Big Ten Championship. This tournament included nine of the eleven Big Ten schools, each team jockeying for the single open spot in the National Championship tournament in Texas. As fate would have it, Michigan State was the only team that stood in Michigan's way of a trip to Texas.

But this time, the Wolverines reigned supreme.

Michigan arrived at Nationals with a high level of confidence.

'We knew we were going to take it the second we got there,' senior Patrick Emaus said.

Michigan defeated Dartmouth, Georgia Tech and Yale in the first three rounds, blowing each of them out of the water. When the finals came rolling around, the polo players went on a tear, sinking California Polytechnic University and claiming the National Championship as their own.

In 2004, the Wolverines ' with extra efforts from new coach Alex Zimmer and core seniors and captains Brad Gregorka, Rob Palmerlee and Ryan Wyatt ' had another outstanding season, finishing third in the nation at Notre Dame.

Despite the loss of many star players due to graduation, Michigan believes that its tradition of excellence and sportsmanship will prevail. This past season's departing stars have stepped up to take on the formidable challenge. Sophomore Dan Kurdys will serve as the team's president and co-captain.

'My goals for this coming season are to focus more on professionalism and organization, to uphold the competitive standards set by the seniors and to maintain a good combination of academic and playing ability,' Kurdys said.

He also hopes to reach out to the community by volunteering at local high schools to teach the sport to the younger players, something that the team has done over the past few off-seasons.

Champions! water polo takes national title
november 11, 2003

By Gabriela D'Jaen, For the Michigan Daily

The men of Michigan's club water polo team left for the National Collegiate Club Championships on Nov. 6 with a clear goal for its four-day trip: To put up a fight for the national title while showcasing the abilities of all players on the team.

After a 14-3 victory over Dartmouth and a 13-4 win over Georgia Tech, the Wolverines faced the No. 1 team in the nation, Cal-Poly State. Michigan started out with force and was leading 3-0, but Cal-Poly State rallied back to 4-4. With 38 seconds left on the clock, Michigan freshman John Thomas shot the game-winning goal.

'There is a reason we call him John T. Money,' coach Vaughn Cooper said. 'He hits big shots.'

Cooper expressed feelings of immense satisfaction with the performance of the entire team, especially the seniors.

Junior defender Brad Gregorka was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament, showing his versatility by scoring four goals against Georgia Tech and three out of the five goals against Cal-Poly. Junior Ryan Wyatt and goalie Jeff Bronson were also named All-Tournament First Team.

'From day one, we emphasized the importance of team, I'm glad the bounces went our way,' Cooper said.

The road to winning a national title is always demanding, but one individual on the team surpassed all expectations. Six months ago, Rob Palmerlee was strapped to a backboard in the hospital, staring at the ceiling for 10 hours.

He was told he had broken his neck and was going to have to spend three months in a halo, eliminating any possibility of playing water polo for a year.

'I was racing my girlfriend through an inflatable obstacle course, and felt a snap in my neck, but I finished the race anyways,' Palmerlee said.

Palmerlee went through intensive physical therapy. Showing diligence and determination, he was practicing with the team by early October.

On Oct. 26, Michigan played against Michigan State for the Big Ten Championship. In double-over time, sudden death, Michigan received a penalty shot off of a technical foul, and Palmerlee was told to take the shot.

'They tossed me the ball, and I looked at the ball and then at the cage, the whistle blew and I shot it cross cage,' Palmerlee said. 'I heard the crowd go crazy and soon my whole team was in the water, I can't describe the feeling, it was just incredible.'

Michigan beat the Spartans, 4-3, and held them scoreless for the last 21 minutes of the game thanks to goalie Jeff Bronson blocking 18 shots.

Palmerlee reflected on his aspirations before heading to Nationals.

'We'd like to show the nation what Michigan water polo is all about. We are the blue-collar work horses,' Palmerlee said at the time. 'We don't have studs, we're just guys that want to have fun.'

The Wolverines' season has been one of teamwork and dedication. The team spends at least three hours in the pool every day, and travels to tournaments across the country on weekends.

'Our season is pretty short, but it's still a major time commitment,' goalie Jeff Bronson said. 'We've had two off weekends since we've gotten to school, but the experience is very rewarding.'

The hard work has paid off, and the success of this team can be attributed not only to the time spent, but also to the surplus of talent on the team.

'In past years, if you looked at the goals scored column you've seen a couple guys who had most of the goals and a couple others trickling here and there,' senior co-captain David Arscott said. 'This season we have eight 20-goal scorers, a pretty significant number of people.'

The team is stacked with depth, rotating players through the six field spots to keep everyone fresh.

'We have a substantial number of subs,' co-captain Dean Malmgren said. 'Just to compare it to other teams, some will only have one sub. That extra depth gives us a large advantage.'

Malmgren, who arrived at the University four years ago as a golfer and swimmer, had never played water polo. His accomplishments show that you can become a big-time water polo player inside of four years.

The club water polo program has existed at the university since 1968. Since the Big Ten water polo conference was created in 1989, Michigan has won seven conference titles, including two national titles.

Michigan Club Polo Has One Elusive Goal
September 9, 2003

By Jamie Josephson, For the Michigan Daily

Splashing into its fall campaign with the return of experienced veterans and the addition of fresh talent, the Michigan men's water polo club is no longer settling for second best.

The past three years have been marked by heartbreaking losses in the finals of the Big Ten Championships. And each season, the difference has been a single goal. Molding a comfortable home at the runner-up position, Michigan polo came up short against the Spartans twice and Purdue once.

"We've been working harder every year, and right now, we are in the best shape we've ever been in," said president and captain Dean Malmgren, who is looking to take that extra step this season.

Kicking off its crusade at the Michigan State tournament this past weekend, the team's impressive first-place performance set the tone for its championship campaign. Taking home the bacon against Purdue in the finals (9-5), the squad also destroyed MSU B (16-8), Illinois (18-4), and Indiana (14-6) along the way.

Malmgren says the squad's strategies to achieve first place glory included staying consistently motivated for every tournament. Drowning its opponents in a 2-2 split last year at the Claremont Convergence Tournament against four Division III Varsity teams, the club is looking forward to returning to Southern California Oct. 9-14 to prove its championship potential.

Entering the season with all but one player returning, the team's cohesion will be one of its strengths.

"We are here because we want to be; we simply love this sport," senior holeset Rich Magner said.

Malmgren insists that digging for the extra edge in the close games is the main focus. The nail-biters will no longer be about physical ability, but rather mental endurance.

As one of the smallest squads physically in the Big Ten, Malmgren insures that what the team lacks in size, it will make up for in speed and skill. Looking to a talented incoming freshman class as a welcoming addition, the team president regarded these new assets with high expectations.

"We freshmen look to make any kind of impact we can from the bench," freshman addition Jon Thomas said.

According to Malmgren, the raw enthusiasm and encouragement from these newcomers can push the team that much further.

Vice president Larry Kennedy explained that the squad's "club" status provides another means to achieving its first-place goal. Club athletes' egos are in check and their label causes them to work that much harder to earn respect. Sponsoring fundraising events from can drives to selling t-shirts offer humbling experiences for the athletes.

Though Big Ten glory and national recognition would be undeniable achievements for the club, Magner acknowledged that having more than half the team attend pre season was a true victory in the sense of athletic commit"Polo may not be our whole life, but it is a close second," Magner said.

Playing water polo is a tough sport that requires mental toughness, endurance and skill.  In addition, it can be a sport where participants receive injuries to the face and mouth.  If you have had injuries to your face as a result of playing water polo, consider a vacation down to Florida to see a ft lauderdale cosmetic dentist in order to allow their team to give you a full list of services and get better teeth and a brighter smile today!


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