Thursday, September 18, 2014

TISCA Open Letter


Expect this open letter to be a ramblin' disaster.  In other words, exactly what you've come to expect here at the Texas Swimming blog.  Strategy for goin' through this might be to read a little, take a little break, send a hateful email, repeat...

I know at least a few TISCA-member coaches (& a sponsor or two) read this site now and then.  I hope you will find something in this letter that may lead to a discussion or two in any informal meetings y'all may have this weekend at the clinic in Austin.  Kick 'round some idears while in the golf cart or at the dinner table.

It's clear the UIL's warmin' to the idear of water polo (minus the horses).  It reminds me of the days just before they split swimming into two divisions.  Back then, the movement went from an individual or two (parent and/or coach) gittin' nowhere fer years, to TISCA and the UIL workin' together to make it happen.

So what?  Maybe we want to work with the UIL to get polo, you say?

Think of the track coach who couldn't care less 'bout cross country, but - thanks to his/her expertise in the areas of runnin', jumpin', & throwin' - is assigned to coach the sport.

Now, imagine yer a swim coach who couldn't care less about polo.  Yes, there are a few out there.  Like it er not, y'all are gonna be orderin' goals, balls, shot clocks, etc.

Since you be the expert in water sports, not only do ya gotta keep workin' with divers - now you'll be coachin' kids swimmin' round in funny lookin' hats elbowin' each other in the mouth and kickin' where it really hurts.

If you can't stand hearin' a whistle go off every ten seconds, might be time to go lookin' fer alternative careers outside high school 'quatics in Texas.

Okay, so what if you like the idear of all that thrashin' & whistlin'?  Think back to the track/cross country example.  Neither sport covers both semesters, right?  Could adding polo as a UIL sport lead to fall-only swimmin' with polo in the spring?  Want to try fittin' a state swim/dive meet into December?  That's the time of year kids are headin' off to USA Swimming Nationals, Junior Nationals, and USA Diving Nationals.  Have fun with that.

Polo or no polo, any movement toward fall-only swim/dive is bad news.  When the season was shortened (used to end in March), important invites got piled on top of one another.  The state TISCA meet was eliminated.  Fall-only swim/dive would mean elimination of more invites and - more than likely - yer favorite revenue-generatin' invites - them regional TISCA meets.

Of course, y'all could come back to work with the foosball coaches, run two-a-days in early August, and start the swim season in late August.  If that's what y'all want, go for it!

Now, think of polo and fall-only swim/dive from the UIL's perspective.  They'd still rake in the same amount of dough from swimming (now twice what they did before the 4A/5A split), plus they'd get an entirely new revenue stream by adding polo.  Since they know coaches would do all the work in organizing district/region/state tournaments, they'd barely lift a finger while them dollar signs in their eyes light up.  See why they're startin' to come 'round to the polo idear?

Bottom line?  Keep polo out of the UIL and fight against fall-only swimming.

So, that covers what I think we should be against.  What should we be for?

Glad y'all asked!

We should be for finding a way to get 24 qualifiers per event (in both divisions) to the state meet.  That was once one of TISCA's most important missions.  It should be again.  They went for the 4A/5A split when they realized it meant doubling revenue while only slightly increasing effort.  Adding another heat to prelims would increase Friday attendance without them having to lift a finger, right?

Also, we've seen huge increase in the number of kids swimmin' and divin' in Texas high schools.  Why does it have to end there?

Why are there still so few college swim programs (fourteen for women & eleven for men) in Texas?  Can't we advocate for more college opportunities for these kids within our great state?  Let's find a way to revive programs that were cut (thanks, Title IX) and start some new ones.  We can come up with a long list of colleges in this state that have pools.  Why not find a way to make it easy for presidents & athletic directors to say "yes" to swimming?

Finally, TISCA stopped posting their unofficial call-up lists a few years ago.  UIL pressure on our once-autonomous organization somehow led to our leadership cavin' in (don't the UIL frown on bullyin'?).  So, with the help of some swim coaches and parents, we've put together the call-up lists for the last couple of years and posted them here.

I'll give y'all a little heads up.  Call-ups ain't gonna be posted here on 2015 region weekend.  So, it looks like some coaches, swim parents, or - gasp - TISCA will have to post unofficial call-ups.

It's either that or wait until the folks over on Manor Road git 'round to it the follerin' week.

No, TN didn't threaten me with bodily harm.  Check back here tomorrow and I'll fill y'all in on the reason.

Q.  What's the best way to keep someone in suspense?

A.  I'll tell ya tomorrow...

See ya,



Illinois High School Swimming said...

Everybody thinks that getting the horses in the water is the hard part when it comes to playing water polo . . . really it's the clean up once you get them out! Horses or not it the clean up that will get you with WP.

Deer Slayer said...

There is wisdom in your words. Thinking things through to see what the the known unknowns and the unknown unknowns are can be tricky.
it is tough to put tooth paste back in the toob.

Anonymous said...

Whatever the reason you can't do the call up work in 2015...we are grateful you have done it in the past...and hope TISCA will step up in your absence

Button said...

enjoyed doing it!

don't hold your breath on our organization taking care of it, though.

we once worked with the uil from time to time. now, we work for them fulltime...

Mike Hoskovec said...


Congrats on taking your trip, sounds like an incredible challenge.

The primary reason for my post is to clarify a few takes on your water polo position and maybe start a conversation (not an argument I hope).

I love your blog. Often, I agree with you, but that's not why i read it, I enjoy the videos, Title IX banter, and current events in Texas swimming. That said, I don't understand your take on water polo and after several years of mostly quiet observation on your blog, I'm asking a few questions and making a few comments.

I am not a swim sponsor. I take my coaching way too seriously, way too often. I have lead teams of primarily summer leaguers to success on many levels and have enjoyed quite a bit of success in our little corner of swimming. A few years ago, we even won a couple 4A state titles. Of the most recent, I had 6 swimmers contribute points. 2 full time club swimmers, 3 summer guys
(not a single stroke of club), and the other one an on and off club athlete. 4 of them played water polo instead of club swimming in the Spring.

In my start a a coach, I was a Swimmer/Swim Coach all the way. For 5 years, I had no interest in any water sport other than 'chasing the black line'

7-8 years ago, a few kids on my team begged to try water polo instead of some crosstraining. It took off. I thought we were goofing around. I was completely clueless on rules and gameplay, but soon the difference in coaching strategies snagged me and I was hooked. There was no turning back with the kids either.

Years later, I have experience in both sports. I have been fortunate enough to earn Coach of the Year in both sports and I am excited for a future where both could be recognized by the UIL. So now, here we go!

1) You could be correct, the UIL may add Polo, but some-to-most polo coaches would be just fine with the swim season ending in Feb and continuing Spring play. If UIL says more time was needed for polo season...Hello Baseball. We could just play into June. Imagine an outdoor state water polo at the new facility in SA...

2) I understand the concern about forcing coaches to take on another sport, but my experience says water polo is easy to learn and fun to coach, despite me sharing your opinion earlier this decade.

3) OPPORTUNITIES!!! This is where I think you should at least take a deep breath and consider that you might be contradicting one of the most popular stances on this website. I have coached high school swimming for 11 years, 6 seasons of water polo. I have more athletes participating in NCAA or CWPA water polo, than swimmers on the next level. It stays with them.

Here's the crux of it, and again, I hope to start a discussion, not an argument. You are EXTREMELY committed to athletic opportunities for all, but you also seem committed to denying athletic opportunities to high school kids in Texas? What if it was wrestling, or tennis, or pick a sport? Wouldn't adding water polo give schools an additional reason to use their pools and keep both sports (as well as diving) around in the face of 'tough budgeting decisions'?

What if adding UIL water polo got our wonderful Texas educational institutions to consider getting their moneys' worth out of their pools and adding polo and keeping/adding swimming at the university level as well?

Seems like adding a water sport would be more advantageous than watching them add competitive cheerleading, lacrosse, or badminton, or whatever else is on the list.

I probably have a little more than this,but it is a start and my fingers and hands are killing me from typing this much already.

I look forward to your response, and any of your loyal readers' responses as well, but hoping to keep this positive.

Sorry for the ramble, that was too long of a post

Mike Hoskovec
Houston Stratford High School

Button said...

great comments, mike.

i hope others will join in.

the reasons may differ greatly from coach to coach, but i feel i'm speaking for quite a few high school swim coaches when i say we'd rather not coach polo.

if/when the uil adds polo, there will be (as my cross country example illustrated) a great deal of pressure on the swim coach to coach polo.

my reason for not wanting to coach polo is simply that i prefer to devote my time/energy/resources to helping my swimmers swim faster.

i don't necessarily mean a faster fitty free. i'm talking about odd stokes, i.m.'s, and freestyle distances over 100 yards.

y'all cannot convince me that spending training time in the spring & summer (yes, many of us are club coaches and wish to have a middle distance swimmer now and then) on polo doesn't harm an athlete's opportunities in events over 100 yards.

in this era of year-round specialization by athletes, kids playing a lot of polo in lieu of swim training are not going to be competitive at the higher levels of swimming.

they may, however, become some of the top players in the country if they focus on year-round polo. i get it.

club polo is going to benefit greatly if/when uil adds polo. it will boost their numbers and their team's profile.

how long after the sport is added will those same club coaches start encouraging kids to skip out on swimming and go straight polo?

now, if some kids want to play polo instead of prepping for long course season, and a high school polo coach is available for them, that's great. we might jump in now and then to scrimmage, but our main focus is on training for the events others aren't willing to train for.

if that means sacrificing the polo season in order to swim a great 200 free next year, so be it.

as far as opportunities to compete in college go, if y'all are able to convince texas colleges to add water polo (that doesn't involve an inner tube) to their athletic departments, go for it!

when it comes to deciding on start & length of a polo season, you don't honestly think tisca will have any influence in the uil's decision, do you?

finally, easy and fun don't always mean best. training for a great 200/400 i.m. isn't all that easy or fun.

there are still swimmers, coaches, and parents who believe in hard work. that's the group i want to hang with.

Button said...

p.s. lax is my favorite team sport. lots of non-stop action. plenty of physical play. strategy. teamwork. near-constant movement. enough - but not too much - protective gear.

very evenly officiated. since it's easier to spot dirty/dangerous play, there's not all that much of it.

Button said...

p.p.s. throwing lacrosse in with cheer and badminton was a low blow...kind of like an underwater kick to the groin in order to just create a little 'space', right?

Not Wally :-) said...

I love your ideas on what are the important battles to fight. But, your position against water polo seems to have been written exclusively from the coaches point of view rather than the student's point of view. I know it was an open letter to TISCA ... which is an organization of coaches. But, a decision like this should be made based on what's best for the student first. And, secondarily, how that effects the school district's facilities, schedules, budgets, and employees. Making decisions for students based on what's easier for teachers is how our country's education system got so screwed up.
In addition, your paranoia of a Fall-Swim, Spring-Polo season is just a straw man. One doesn't necessarily lead to the other. We needn't base our decision on that paranoia. The majority of coaches, parents, and athletes are happy with the current season... in fact, most are thrilled about it. And, if that changes, then let the people debate at that time. There are actually several options on how the seasons could be structured, each with their pros and cons. No need to setup a straw man now.
You don't even want to get me started on how polo affects swimmers. Our HS swim team has received several new swimmers in recent years who were polo players who want to improve their swimming. Many eventually earned points at regionals for the swim team. Serious club swimmers will just continue doing club swimming and then play HS water polo after their HS swim season is over. For them, polo has little effect on their swim success. It just gives them something fun to do during the HS swimming offseason (much like power lifting does for football players). And, for the HS-only swimmers, water polo season is so short, it just gives them a mental reset from the loooonnnnggg HS swim season while STILL staying in the water swimming! So, in the end, water polo has been a net-positive for the swim program at our school. That wouldn't change with UIL support.
In fact, last year alone, our program's water polo players won five swimming All-Americans. They found the healthy balance between the two sports and it worked for them. Water polo gave them something fun to do in the mornings during the HS swim offseason, while they continued to swim club in the afternoons.
If UIL supports water polo, I'd be willing to bet that at at least some Texas universities would begin to add programs soon thereafter. It make take a few years. But, it would happen. And, if a school adds water polo, it is less likely to drop swimming. Name one NCAA program that has water polo, but not swimming? Maybe one exists. But, I"m not aware of one.
I could say so much more. But, I'll stop here.

Button said...

not wally,

thanks for the comment.

i'm glad the pro-polo folks out there are able to respond to my open letter without the cursing and threatening some of your top folks have thrown at me in the past. maybe civility has returned to the debate!

if y'all look back on all my posts/comments on polo, i've never said y'all shouldn't exist. i've always been a proponent of live and let live. it's the pushy polo advocates that try ramming the mikasa down our throats that we swim-only coaches have had enough of.

now, where to start?

not wally, you're an idealist and i'm a realist. we're looking at the issue from opposite poles.

whether y'all want to believe it or not, the truth is i'm speaking for many high school swim coaches who, if forced to coach water polo, would either hold their noses and do it (for the children) or get out of coaching swimming.

these are not coaches who don't care about their kids.

these coaches are just guys and gals that are already stretched to the limit. they teach nearly full course loads, usually in core subjects. they coach swimmers & divers. they drive the bus. in short, they do it all and their coaching stipends figure out just north of minimum wage.

i'm sure there are well-to-do districts that can easily expand their swim budgets to keep their multi-coach/cake-walk teaching assignment/charter bus/taj mahal facility aquatic programs going just fine. unfortunately, the rest of us live in the real world and have to do without those luxuries and focus on keeping the main thing the main thing.

fall-only swim is no straw man. if you'll just look into those pushing for it, you'll find they're also pushing water polo down our throats.

quoting from your first paragraph: 'But, a decision like this should be made based on what's best for the student first. And, secondarily, how that effects the school district's facilities, schedules, budgets, and employees. Making decisions for students based on what's easier for teachers is how our country's education system got so screwed up.'

i've decided that it's important for all children in texas to learn mandarin. since china is a huge trading partner and has jumped into technology and aerospace with both feet, it's absolutely what's best for our children. now, some districts already have the program in place. in those that don't, i'm going to assign a new english teacher the task of:

a) learning mandarin,
b) ordering teaching materials, and
c) cranking out mandarin-speakers by the end of the school year.

i sure didn't make it easier for the teacher now, did i?

quoting from the next-to-last paragraph: 'If UIL supports water polo, I'd be willing to bet that at at least some Texas universities would begin to add programs soon thereafter. It make take a few years. But, it would happen.'

really? how many texas universities have added rasslin' since the uil took on that sport?

yeah, it might take a few years...uil wrestling dates back to the turn of the century...'98 in fact.

let me know which texas schools have ncaa, naia, or njcaa wrestling programs.


Mike Hoskovec said...


Good response, Sir.

I like LAX too. I don't think it will ever be added bc I don't know that it will get support from 'foosball' coaches. Sharing athletes is hard enough without adding anymore land sports. The point was simply if they are adding a sport, why not an aquatic sport?

As far as your love for swimming and focusing on it, I love it too, but we could certainly add opportunities to the athletes here in the water in Texas. The last sport was wrestling (not counting additional in other conferences ie 4A swim).

Also, while a shorter swim season is not guaranteed by any means, maybe shaking up the format here in Texas could do us some good. I am not for this, but I got my Swimming World magazine in the mail today and in a quick count and a small sample size of this season only, I saw 6 swims from TX swimmers in the mythical top 16. My home state of Nebraska had 4. It blows my mind that a state with less than 2 million people could even in a single year have similar stats. IL, IN, PA all have short seasons and have far superior representation on the list...explanations???

As for the distance/IM training, once upon a time, I was an IMer and 200 flyer. I love coaching IM and distance training, but the reality is, with an 8 hour rule, there is a disadvantage when coaching a HS only kid vs a club kid for a 500. I have had an all summer league relay make the 5A meet. I have had non club swimmers qualify in every event, except 3 and I think you can guess them. At some point after sophomore year, I focus on the events where they have the best shot to move on with success. Sprinting and stroke work it is!

Finally, Stratford, Alamo Heights, and Southlake all have very different programs and they all play polo and have won titles recently. I believe it it bc it gels the team. Your great polo players are often your average swimmers that have found a way to contribute and feel a bigger part of both swim and polo teams.

That's all for now. Thanks for the friendly response


Button said...


i share your concerns on where texas stands vs. the rest of the country:

i'm all for taking the eight-hour rule to the limit (no 8:01 for my programs!). since friday afternoon and saturday morning don't count toward the eight (and adding in the athletic period), teams i used to coach (without the support of a club program) were able to train at least sixteen hours weekly.

not always enough, but that's the rule and we have to work within it. when the eight-hour rule isn't a hindrance (holiday training), we were able to do much more.

unfortunately, some programs don't have athletic periods and don't have coaches willing to run saturday workouts (and serious holiday training schedules). if there's not a club program, those kids just aren't going to be competitive any longer.

it's a shame, but sometimes the coaches and/or the communities just aren't committed to it.

maybe those are places that can benefit from polo, i don't know.

there are plenty of variables that contribute to why other states are out-pacing our kids.

it might be good to have folks kick those around for a while so we might find a cause/effect and do something about it.

in states that split the girl/boy seasons, do girls swimming in the fall have an advantage over ours, coming off a summer of long course training? maybe.

do boys in those states train like crazy all fall for nationals and junior nationals, then come back to their high school programs just long enough to swim fast in january/february? maybe.

in states with shorter seasons, does that mean serious club programs see more of their kids throughout the year, giving them a competitive advantage over our kids with high school coaches who don't provide enough workout opportunities? maybe.

now that coaches have stopped fighting over fall vs. spring polo, tisca polo seems to be doing just fine. why then, would y'all want the uil to step in and screw it all up?

if we're looking to add aquatic opportunities for our kids, how about tisca sanctioning a late april/early may open water series, follered by a state championship in late may?

don't laugh at this one: why not synchro?

i'd rather listen to purdy music and watch a choreographed performance than see a bunch of slappin' n thrashin' while listenin' to a mess of hollerin' and whistlin'.

Anonymous said...

It is difficult for the so called old powers in water polo to not respond negatively when all you do is bash it.

Over the past few years the amount of coaching and ref education in this state has teams playing a much more controlled clean game. Gone are the days of constant bickering and fighting among water polo enthusiasts. I believe you are throwing you know what at the wall to see what sticks

You really have no understanding of the game or skills that are currently being implemented. So instead of understanding you choose to belittle and make up funny insults.

Please stay out of this and let these hardworking coaches and athletes be recognized for what they do

Button said...

thanks for your input, anonymous.

it looks like you've helped make my point.

'Over the past few years the amount of coaching and ref education in this state has teams playing a much more controlled clean game. Gone are the days of constant bickering and fighting among water polo enthusiasts.'

so, you admit to the days of coaches teaching dirty play, officials allowing it to go on, and politics resulting in split seasons.

your saying texas polo actually earned its outlaw reputation, didn't it?

now, i'm glad guys like mike are embracing polo at their schools. more power to 'em! a new era of clean play and a cohesive coaches' group is here!

what hasn't gone the way of dirty politics and dirty play is the 'if you ain't fer us, you is agin us' mentality old-school texas polo still has.

kind of the 'if you're against obamacare (socialized medicine), you're against caring for the sick.

or, if you don't support common core, you're against educating our kids.

i don't support adding polo as a uil sport. that doesn't mean i'm trying to shut down your polo programs, does it?

when a swimming rule change is proposed, there needs to be a rationale behind it.

what is the rationale to adding polo as a uil sport?

will it make what y'all currently have better? if so, in what way(s)?

educate me, polo folks. what are the reasons adding polo as a uil sport will be a good thing?

stay away from the 'we feel' and 'we hope' stuff. what can you honestly say would be good about it?

fire away!

Rocky Top said...

Illinois water polo coaches got their wish about 14 or 15 years ago. Then reality set in. They lost control of the season, the structure and the rules. Probably more than that. Illinois has a fall girls swim and a winter boys swim, so both polos are in the spring. The first thing that happened was the season was shortened. Second, the IHSA really doesn't try to create "equal" sectionals (the state tourney qualification tourney) so the best teams were often in the same sectional. Some very good teams didn't make it out of the sectional tourney. Then when they get to the state tourney the IHSA doesn't seed it so often the two best teams out of the sectionals play first round. Coaches didn't like that . . . but maybe they go used to it. I am sure that there are other things they don't like. When IHSA started recognizing WP there a bump in the number of schools with teams. I am guessing that about 70 or 75 schools (boys and girls numbers vary slightly) play polo. Somewhere around 280 have swim teams. We don't have archaic issues, like being forced to coach an extra season but pool time is a huge issue. With two polo programs, separate of course, going on in the spring, pool time is tight. Real tight. Many high schools in Illinois have pools, most I guess that have swimming do. So at my old school with 120 girls swimmers and 120 boys swimmers there were about 50-60 each boys and girls polo players. Rarely did a stud swimmer play polo. Many lower level swimmers did. This was more because of the polo coach and his restrictions, than the swimmers. Actually, ran off two All America swimmers who were very good polo players. He preferred to have non-swimmers. Unfortunately, the non-swimming deal bit him often. We had polo players who, swam. It was often a problem. But again, most of it stemmed from a WP coach's issue with swimming. On the girls side there were few problems. Lacrosse is still just an "emerging" sport up there but in the Chicago suburbs, especially the North Shore area it is huge. Hockey is big in the same areas but will never be an IHSA sport. Frankly, from a teaching standpoint, the biggest thugs and a$$#0le$ in the school played Lacrosse and hockey. Many played both. Foosballers weren't much of a problem. Of course up on the North Shore thug and a-hole really doesn't mean the same thing! Just means they are shooting for a Big 10 school instead of the Ivy League.

Button said...

thanks for the comment, rocky top.

in a nutshell, you're saying that giving control to our state association could result in 'buyers remorse', right?

do y'all really foresee uil polo > tisca polo? if so, why?

glad you brought up the pool time issue. for texas schools with control of their facilities, i think it's a manageable issue. we're used to providing girls & boys the same facility, coach, schedule, budget, etc.

for schools who don't control their facility, it will likely be a huge problem.

what many don't realize is that a large number of high school swim coaches do not control the pool they train their athletes in.

for many, it's tough to schedule/afford transportation & pool time during the high school swim season.

i don't see those programs adding polo - even if they wanted to - simply because of the logistics.

Rocky Top said...

Buyer's remorse for sure. Like I said they probably have gotten use to it. My old high school controlled the pool, heck pools, two of 'em, but there are a lot of constituents who want to be in those pools. High school swimmers, divers, water polo players, club swimming, club water polo, no diving club . . . yet. Also Lifeguard classes, swim school, some crew (rowers) use, cross country, bass fishing team and the underwater robotics club. You can't make this stuff up. Bass fishing is an IHSA sport and underwater robotics is a club at my old high school. In reality crew only uses the pool for a few water safety test a year and bass fishing really doesn't use the pool, I guess they figure the fisherman will just float on a cooler if the USS Fish or Cut Bait sinks. So 120 girls practice in two pools in the fall. They can't swim club during the season, which is really good, so about 70 of them are swimming twice a day. A 400 member swim club uses the pools and a 30-40 member water polo club does too. In the winter it's the same just boys high school instead of girls. In the spring there isn't much pool time for the swim club and water polo club takes a break because everyone is playing HS water polo. HS water polo, which should be a cut sport but isn't, sucks up all the pool time. Should be a cut sport because you can't play all 60 players. Can't schedule enough games with enough levels to do it. So they have more time than they need and keep asking for more. Squeezing the swim club. Guess where most of the water polo players come from? Former swim club members who burned out, flamed out or just gave up and quit swimming because they couldn't compete or there wasn't a ball involved, and apparently still love the water. So WP chokes it's life blood (supply of players) for what? The children, but which children? No matter the who controls the water there will still be problems. Like the wild west, it's about the water.

Anonymous said...

You guys lost me when swimming is mentioned as the lifeblood of water polo. While it is nice to have the ability to swim fast in water polo I prefer game sense and proper skills. I would actually prefer a kid who has a background in other ball sports than a swimmer who has no team sport concepts. Teaching swimming is the easy part! These two sports are completely different. This also a good point for UIL water polo. It can involve other members of a student body in a school and does not have to be just members of the school swim team. I think both sports can coexist under the UIL.

Lion King said...

The rules, much like the pools the games are played in, are choppy. What one referee may deem a foul, another may determine to be part of the game. Even then, there's only so much a referee can see when standing on the deck administering a match that isn't completely visible.

"I've never been in a game where it was totally clean," said Denise Israels, who coaches both the boys and girls teams at Westminster Academy.

Some coaches DEMAND dirty play, TEACH dirty, and have the same attitude towards dirty play as some fb coaches had about their players using steroids "back in the day": "Everybody else is doing it, we can't compete if we don't, so we turn a blind eye and plead ignorance."

That's a bit different than TEACHING cheating. "Wait, it's NOT cheating, it's just the way the game is played."

So, in swimming, we should teach how to get away with that extra dolphin kick on breaststroke, how to pull on the lane line without getting caught in backstroke, and how to wear transparent fins in fly and free?

One of the biggest names in TX polo is one of the dirtiest coaches I've ever known, but a real nice guy away from the pool. I stopped doing polo because I couldn't coach it, didn't have the Xs and Os side of my brain working, even though I played (keeper only, not driver or field). And I hated stopping it because the boys LOVED it.

Mostly, I side with the question that asks: "Just WHAT is UIL approval of polo going to achieve???"

They have not helped swimming since they took it over, and the only good thing that came out was the 4A/5A split, but that was ONLY because Button and Patrick and Matt and a few other hard-asses kept on pushing for it, because they KNEW how it would open doors and expand opportunities. What they need NOW is to open to 24, and -I- think QTs should be added that would be open season, not limiting qualifiers to just Region results.

But I digress...

Polo-YES (like it is now), UIL-POLO, HELL NO!


Button said...

lion king,

might want to keep one of these in the trainer kit:

Anonymous said...

It blows my mind that swim coaches won't get behind this push for water polo.

Kids want to play water polo and that should be a good enough reason. I can think of 20 high schools right off the top of my head that won't allow it because it isn't sanctioned by the UIL.

Coaching water polo isn't hard. USA Water Polo supplies a lot of free information. Their youtube channel is great.

It's a contact sport, so what? It's also the Olympics oldest team sport going back to Paris in 1900. And the USA Women's team won gold in London. Maybe we should ask them if the "elbowin' and the kickin'" really matters?

The only event I have been to that was louder than a swim meet was an AC/DC concert and it was awesome. If whistles bother people they can get earplugs.

Every other high school sport seems to manage with one semester. I'm pretty sure all the swim coaches would be able to manage. You might even get more kids to do it after there spring opens up a little. And Club swimming is available to any kid that wants it.

I swam and played polo in high school and in college. And I learned a lot from both sports. I set and accomplished a few individual goals in swimming and I learned how to work together with a team to accomplish a common goal. Team sports are extremely important for kids.

Everyone involved in Texas aquatics should be supporting this push for UIL sanction. If you do wish to protest please make it a silent one.

Mike Hoskovec said...

So that heated up a little.

Why is UIL polo a good idea?

1) Back to OPPORTUNITY. If a middle school athlete is in a club polo program, along with a few other sports they will often choose the UIL sanctioned sport in order to earn a letter for their school. The sport would maintain athletes with recognition on a state level.

2) Not every school would add, but a number of schools WOULD add. More bodies is a bigger 'pool of talent' and the game will improve regionally.

3) Scholarships/collegiate play for kids. While many sports are shrinking, polo is actually growing on most levels, including collegiately. It is a sport that Texas athletes can participate in at the next level. I would contend that it is easier to find polo opportunities (especially for the girls) than it is for swimming.

4) I realize that there are numerous swim coaches against water polo. I used to be one. 10 years ago I thought the whistles were nuts and I'd never be able to figure it out. Simply put, not the case. In swimming, I constantly hunt and search times and I'm on an ongoing quest to determine best lineup, best opportunity, and best way to squeeze every last drop from the lemon. If any swim coach is like that, the strategy of the team game of water polo is incredibly fun in an incredibly different way.

I agree with a statement made earlier in this thread. They can co-exist if everyone would simply let them. With Men and Women in Texas swimming in the same season, the problems Elwood from Illinois brings up are compounded by the separate swimming and polo seasons. As for unequal tournament finals, my take is it doesn't matter what order you beat everyone in, as long as you beat EVERYONE. "There can be only one"...if that means my road ends sooner, then so be it. We're all grown ups (sometimes).

Closing, just because you aren't for it, doesn't mean you should be against it. I have no idea what the UIL will do with polo/swimming season length, but the recognition and athletic opportunities are enough of a reason for me.

So there is my attempt for the why.

Button, I'm still waiting for a line addresses the contrast between taking away opportunities for Title IX purposes and not creating new opportunities due to similar inconveniences. I don't understand how not adding is different from dropping.

I don't really buy the finances bc these districts are still running the buses for offseason swimming. I don't believe that $1000-$3000 would be a make or break amount in most districts.

Did you catch the Highlander reference?

Button said...

that last anonymous comment is what i've become accustomed to from the polo crowd. the old 'if you ain't fer us, you is agin us' mentality, plus a nice little 'shut the hell up' for good measure.

'It blows my mind that swim coaches won't get behind this push for water polo.'

deal with it, anonymous - it's a fact. if the uil adds polo, there are some very good high school swim coaches who will refuse to coach it at their school.

if their school can find someone already on staff to coach polo (or hire someone in), then good for them. the swim coach will run an off-season for kids that don't want to play polo and then everyone will be happy.

love how anonymous throws in swim meets and ac/dc concerts! funny stuff there!

anonymous is another polo-pusher who isn't worried about fall-only swimming. guess i'm just one of them chickin lil's worryin' bout the sky afallin', right? nothin' to worry 'bout, right?

one more time, anonymous - y'all already gots polo and we is all fine with that! enjoy what ya got and stop tellin' us ta jump on yer danged bandwaggin'! uil will screw it up and you'll come cryin' to tisca fer help three years down the road...

Button said...


opportunities in polo greater than in swimming? come on, we know that's not true!

you and i could find twenty kids four swims apiece in a dual meet in an eight-lane pool.

maybe you'd be able to rotate twenty kids into a polo game, but it'd have to be a blow-out to get your third-stringers any meaningful playing time/touches.

the only place polo has grown in the ncaa is on the women's side...and some schools are actually pulling back, dropping women's polo and adding more opportunities with sports like lax.

the ncaa is even trying out triathlon to find more women's opportunities. polo isn't getting them where they want to be, so don't count on growth there.

okay, running down your numbers:

1) agreed
2) agreed
3) let me know when you hear of a texas college adding varsity water polo - then we'll talk opportunities. until then, we're sending kids off to play college club polo in texas or women's varsity polo outside texas
4) kind of like tellin' me i should buy a foreign car just 'cause lots of folks love 'em. good fer them, but not fer me.

Button said...

p.s. don't foller highlander

p.p.s. i scout plenty, and must say you're one of the toughest coaches out there to scout against. play it pretty close to the vest, don't you?

Lion King said...

I will back up and say there is ONE way that being UIL-sanctioned might help.

When I started coaching HS here in 1980 (clue), my school had been playing polo for several yrs. So the kids knew how to play, we played, we had some fun, but got thoroughly beat up by the schools with mostly club swimmers (we had NONE) and dirty-teaching coaches.

But we held on and played a few more yrs. I had been ordering our equipment from the swim budget without problems and then one year the good ol' boy AD said, "Now, Coach, ya cain't use that budget money for water polo stuff, 'cuz it's not Yoo-Eye-Ell." I replied, "But we've been buying that stuff for the last 6 yrs." He replied, "Well, mebbe so, but not any more. I have a hard time 'splainin' to the Superintendent why budget money for a Yoo-Eye-Ell sport is going to buy equipment for NON-You-Eye-Ell activities." "Well, we buy medicine balls, jump ropes, weight vests, exercise equipment, and other things like that, and THEY'RE not a UIL sport." "Coach, they help -prepare- your ath-a-letes for a You-Eye-Ell sport." "Sir, so does water polo!" "Now don't get smart with me, Coach, you are NOT going to get any water polo purchase requests approved, have I made myself clear?" "Oh, yes, sir, VERY clear."

Trust me, I am -not- exaggerating that conversation.

So, maybe being UIL-sanctioned will help you buy polo gear.

I am convinced, however, that you polo folks better remember this:

"Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it."

I don't trust the UI-Hell as far as I can throw that building on Manor Road.

Kevin Murphy said...

Interesting discussion. What fun!
Very enjoyable and enlightening to listen and observe how this discussion evolves, and hear various points of view on the subject.

We do play water-polo at Southlake Carroll.
Most of our HS polo players originate in our HS Swim Program. In the past, very few water-polo only kids in our HS, but more as the "club" Team grows. Most of our HS polo players wait until the end of their HS Swim Season to begin water-polo practices. About 10% of our Varsity Swimmers, choose "club" water-polo in the winter over "club" swimming. About 15% of our JV Swimmers participate, yr-round, as "club" water-polo players.

Our very best HS swimmers do not play water-polo year-round. A few of them do play water-polo , seasonally, during the HS water-polo season in the Spring from the end of Feb until early May and the Tisca State water-polo tournament.

Having played pick-up basketball from 18 to 45 yrs old, I do love Team games with a ball. If given the opportunity in Oklahoma in the early 70's, I would have swam AND played water-polo. I did coach four years of organized HS water-polo, three in Texas and one in Oklahoma, and I did enjoy the process and in Bryan, Texas, we were able to build a decent Boy's HS Swim Team, from 5 boys to over 30 boys, by using water-polo as a recruiting tool.
In that specific venue, Bryan, the interest in competitive swimming was just not there and water-polo created a draw into swimming that did not exist before.
In Southlake Carroll, where we have a strong grass-roots swimming pipeline, water-polo seems to create some nice opportunities for 2nd, 3rd and 4th level HS competitive swimmers to find a space for themselves to shine in water-polo.

We know we are blessed with a fine talent pool in HS swimming and in our case, some of our swimmers that gravitate to yr-round water-polo, are likely, unable to ever even make our District Championship Team. Water-polo gives them a chance to be significant.

Whether water-polo becomes a UIL sport or not, I enjoy watching it, maybe coaching it and see some value for the kids that play it. I can see it as a distraction if it becomes so popular that it subtracts swimmers from the training pool rather than add swimmers to the training pool.

It would be nice if it were offered as an NCAA sport in Texas, but I won't hold my breath.
It will be a UIL sport before our Texas Universities ever bring it in. Maybe that is the focus by USA Water-polo and those that want it as a UIL sport, to build credibility.

I have heard that in California, you are either a swimmer or a water-polo player, and not so much both anymore like back in the 70's and 80's.
I am pretty sure that the water-polo promoters want Texas to become a water-polo mecca like California, so we had all better keep our eyes open, if and when it moves into UIL status, lest more, rather than less, division between HS water-polo and HS swimming takes place.

Button said...

thanks for commenting, kevin.

i think you've summed it up pretty well.

what may be my last comment on the issue (we'll see if anyone rattles my cage):

given the negative dealings many swim coaches have had with the uil in recent years, we may be a bit more leery of having them in charge of polo than the rest of y'all.

they rammed appendix b down our throats. surprise! malfunctioning machines can now overrule common sense.

they allowed a region iv-5a switcheroo in 2012.

they allowed a district 15-5a switcheroo in 2014.

a team that no-showed for the district 27-4a meet in 2014 was somehow allowed to compete in the region vii-4a meet.

when asked about a meet committee at the state meet, they've told us one has been chosen, but they won't tell us who's on it.

they've told tisca to stop posting unofficial call-ups (because of occasional boo-boos), then delay for days their posting of incorrect official call-ups.

they've given no consideration to adding additional prelim heats at the current two-division state meet (24 to state), but instead have floated a trial balloon promoting the addition of a third division.

in a nutshell, they don't follow rules and don't consider input from coaches.

y'all really want them in charge of polo? good luck!

Deer Slayer said...

I would be cautious with the uil running polo. Their grasp of swimming is rudimentary at best. Traci does know swimming better that peter, but as most swim coaches know, there are coaches who consistently have swimmers qualifying for major meets, and there are coaches who are paid a coaching stipend for a few years and do a good job. Their learning a new sport when they some times barely grasp one they have been "running" since 1970, does not encourage me. That huge unknown is out there. I agree with Button that not being for something is different than being against it. For me it is about time. Limited time in a day. Many of us have worked half days (twelve hours) for decades. I would not want anything else on my plate. I am not against it, but I not out beating the bushes for it either. We have done that and won some things from the uil, but all I can say is "what a long, strange trip it's been."

Mike Hoskovec said...

My last post as well. I'm not looking to rattle any cages, just pose a different perspective.

1) If going to 3 meets that publish results before district is close to the vest, guilty as charged!

2) As far as UIL and its handling of athletics, I would argue that the NCAA is a similar entity. You take the good with the bad, and make it known when you disagree. I stood up at the TISCA meeting 3 years ago asking about how regions were determined and for the most part heard crickets. I am by no means a staunch supporter of some of the recent decisions made by our state organizations a) relay takeoff b) travelling 2.5 hours to SATX with the Fort Bend Schools when Fort Bend is hosting a Region meet 15 minutes from my campus c) Switching events at regions to get three relays etc

BUT,the last point is the one that again made me post in the first place.

3) Opportunity. I have heard many coaches disagree with UIL and advise not to put polo under the UIL umbrella. If the feeling is that strong, why would a team swim under the UIL. It is a vehicle to promote Texas High School athletes from all over the state on all levels in sports and whether there are flaws or not, we all love the sports we love and will continue to be motivated to see those sports grow and flourish.

Last point and I'm out. Button, I agree. there are more spots in a swim meet than in a water polo match, but I am trying to do a different math problem than you...

Your math, swimming #s > polo numbers = swimming only, maintain current status

My math swimming #s + polo numbers = more aquatics opportunities for everyone (I acknowledge that some do not want to use all opportunities, but they are opportunites).

Solution-Swimming maintains its stature as an individual sport, thus train year round. Polo- team sport with enforced start/stop dates. If a school chooses not to play polo, Swim Coaches can still train their kids in the Spring while the polo group may choose to expand recognition.

Good luck to all this swim season.

Anonymous said...

I was one of those coaches "pressured" into coaching water polo, and I am grateful for that.

I coached at a swim only school for 10 years and decided I should try my hand at something outside education. That did not work out as I had hoped, so I came back to swimming and teaching. My best offer included a chance to coach water polo for an established(but not very good) program. I did not know what I was agreeing to, but I agreed.

We we aweful.

With the help of a few very willing HS swim/waterpolo coaches. I was able to learn, and fall in love with the game. I have found that MOST water polo coaches are willing to educate and help new coaches as they come into the sport.

I also agree with Mike that water polo has created opportunities for athletes that were not there with swimming. I currently have athletes playing polo in college that otherwise would probably not even be able to attend a four year university.

As is the case with Southlake Carroll, most of my year round swimmers, don't play polo. Most of my year round polo players have never swam for a club.

Polo have given my B and C relay kids a chance to be part of team that has relevance to them. I don't think you can overstate the value of that to a young man or woman. In my most successful years as a swim coach, I would qualify 4 or 5 kids for the State Swim Meet. It was a great expereince for them. With water polo, I have been able to take as many as 28 kids to the State Water Polo tournament. All 28 of them got to play.

I hope the State Swim Meet is expanded to 24 per event AND they add another division. I would love to take 28 kids to the state swim meet!

UIL water polo would expand the chances for even more kids to participate in an aquatic sport. I do not see how that can perceived as anything but positive.

Good luck on your hike!

Unknown said...

Just to comment on " kids playing a lot of polo in lieu of swim training are not going to be competitive at the higher levels of swimming." Cy creek has had many swimmers/water polo players receive all-Americans in both swim and polo. As well as Jersey Village, Strake Jesuit, Cy-Fair, Clear Lake, Clear Creek, and Sterling....just to name a few

Lion King said...

My last post as well. Probably.

I have scrolled through this most excellent discussion several times, and I get the "more opportunities", "more kids in aquatics", etc., just fine.

What I still fail to get is what UIL can add? Credibility? Status? "Gravitas"? Access to a school-provided budget (see my previous post)?

Wish someone can put it in less vague phrasing than what I've been reading here.

I just don't see anything of value that UIL acceptance will significantly add.

Anyone else care to try again?

Play polo, enjoy it, get all the positives out of it that have been put forth, but don't let the UIL reel you in. It's tough to get off the hook and swim free again.

Kevin murphy said...

I can speak specifically about Cy-Creek water-polo/swimming from back in John Webb's day, from discussions I had with him in the early 2000's.

Water-polo every Fall through the Tisca State Tournament.
Lock up the water-polo balls during HS swim season from the Tisca State polo tourney until the UIL State Swim Meet.
DO NOT unlock the water-polo balls for Spring polo until the swim season is finished.

One man controlled the entire HS deision-making at Cy-Creek. The process, in conjunction with whatever was done with the "club" swimming during the rest of the year.

From what I have seen, his philosophy resulted in kids focusing on swimming during swim season and polo when it was polo time. No confusion, no competition for the hearts, minds and bodies of the kids.

Anonymous said...

To answer Lion King:
UIL water polo will mean that there is a governing body for the sport.

Better training for officials.

Decisions on how to divide the state into districts and regions will not be influenced by a few coaches looking to seek an advantage for their team.

No more "good old boy" water polo. You all know what I'm talking about.

It will also force all coaches to act in a civil manner towards officails. Those few coaches who have behaved poorly in the past will be forced out of the sport by their athletic departments if they do not change their behavior.

Lion King said...

Thanks, Anonymous!

Not sure if #1 is a plus or not.

#2 re officials: where so they get trained now, USWP clinics? I would think that USWP would provide better officials training, much as USA Swimming trains swim officials better than UIL (meaning "zero" from UIL; many areas host "officials clinics" with a long-time official going over the NFHS rules and giving a takehome test); can't imagine anything coming from UIL training officials in WP better than a monkey in a tree (no offense to tree monkeys).

#3-4-5: AMEN! Good points.

Now, WHY didn't this get addressed earlier, instead of devolving into the "us vs. them" debate, opportunities, etc.?

I think the whole point I (were there any others?) was making was WHAT UI-Hell was going to add to the situation.

All I can agree with is #3-4-5 above, and I can't see the "good old boys" (you know who they are) and the jerks (we ALL know who -they- are) getting behind UIL sanctioning with those on the line.

Oh, well, we'll wait and see, I just hope that the genius idea of ending HS season in December dies a quick death.

But I -do- wonder what TX HS swimming would be like if it adopted separate boys/girls seasons, like Rocky Top's Illinois example? If you want to talk about increasing opportunities, you basically double your pool space, which is why we see a LOT of IL teams with 100+ on a single-gender team. WOW!

completelyconquered said...

I'm extremely late to this discussion so I doubt that I will get a response. Jeff, please name one swimmer from the schools you listed that played polo and also swam who was successful at a high swimming level. I actually already know the answer. It was somebody I played polo against and swam with at Fleet, Jamie Rauch. Since then it hasn't happened!

Unknown said...

Nate Bean comes to mind for Cy Creek.

Chelsie Miller was an All American swimmer her sophomore year at Jersey Village AND played polo. She did not play polo, or swim for Jersey Village after that. Her coach at Fleet insisted that she quit the HS team to train only with Fleet.

It wasn't water polo that kept her from competing at a high level in high school swimming, it was her club swim coach. I think there are quite a few HS coaches who might agree that club swimming keeps WAY more athletes from swimming in HS than water polo ever has, but that is a completely different discussion.

completelyconquered said...

Nate Bean? He didn't have any junior national cuts. I'm not sure if you are understanding what swimming at a high level means. Chelsie Miller is a great example though. I didn't know she played polo. Another one I can think of is Jonathan Edwards, he also finaled at Junior Nationals.

Anonymous said...

CompletelyConquered, what is your definition of being successful at high school swimming? Nathan Bean went to State for high school swimming. He did not ever swim club, and he both swims and plays water polo for Gannon University.
Also, there are plenty others from Creek we can name... Tyler Hill, Keith Murphy, Alex Basso, Kathryn AND Karoline Eckart, and Rachael Edwards.
All of these swimmers were successful(making it to state swimming for HIGH SCHOOL not club swimming) and were successful in water polo (meaning playing for a team that made it to state or WINNING a state title.

Button said...



in high school swimming: having attained a usa swimming junior national standard and/or a nisca all-america standard

Anonymous said...

I am new to this discussion. Very interesting reading. All of those previously listed swimmers/ water polo players from Cy-Creek were All American swimmers.

Unknown said...

I love how you define being a high level HS swimmer by using USA swim Jr National cuts. You did include NISCA AA, but still....

I again refer to my post pointing out that Club Swim Coaches are also an obstacle to HS swimmers swimming at the high level you define, unless its at a club meet.

Mike Hoskovec said...

Thought I was done, but this just took a fun turn...

Interesting standard chosen as far as Juniors and NISCA All-America.

Are the coaches that don't coach polo able to claim better numbers than polo coaches? Not sure I'm ready to buy that without more info, but would love to see a list get started.

Ford Story, Alec Willrodt were both state champs and both never took a club stroke until after graduation....very rare. Both played one season of polo, and that was enough for them, so they worked with my non-polo-swim group the other two Springs.

I've had a few non club athletes come through with impressive relay resumes, but only a few individual state qualifiers. Kyle Rathgeb and Cai Rohleder, and a few others were more than reasonably successful high school swimmers and polo players (not quite juniors). I've had a relay of non club swimmers win regionals and qualify for the 5A state meet in a relay and all four played polo.

As stated earlier, I'd like to hear about other non club athletes having similar success. Only a few names that fit the criteria come to mind as far as non polo guys, The Nix brothers from Frisco and some big names from K-Park. Additions?

Just because I'm not too familiar with many other programs consistently producing junior and AA talent, doesn't mean they don't exist.

If this is the standard we are holding the polo players to while racing, let's hear the number of non club athletes that don't play polo achieving these times. We should also remember the number of programs that don't play polo is far greater than the number of programs that do.

Unknown said...

Let me amend my last post to read:

SOME club coaches

I apologize to those club coaches who do work WITH the HS coach of their club swimmers.

It is kinda annoying to have senior national level swimmers walking the halls of your school who are not allowed by their club coach to swim for their HS team.

Button said...

in an earlier comment i stated 'in this era of year-round specialization by athletes, kids playing a lot of polo in lieu of swim training are not going to be competitive at the higher levels of swimming.'

others have tossed around 'next level', 'state level', 'high level', etc. in their comments.

my definition of 'high-level' is consistent with the above statement.

since my definition may not match your definition, i don't see the problem. y'all can define 'high-level' as you see fit.

just wanted to clarify how i was using the term.

for all you high school coaches that have issues with club swimming, that's a local issue you will have to work out.

best of luck and have great short course/high school seasons.