Wednesday, October 29, 2008


I tagged this blog and named it NCAA because that is what I am thinking about today. This is the time of year when players are contacted by US schools for 2009 scholarships and it takes our focus to that part of the world for awhile. 

Of course we know that Breda, captain of the Jr National Team, will get offers from schools but there are others who are being looked at too. Like the guy in my last blog picture, Brendan Domoney. He plays in California in the summer, smart guy, so has some people there paying very close attention to him. He has a scrappy quality that most US boys with speed swimming backgrounds do not match until later in a collegiate career. He is possibly the most overlooked male player in Canada right now (but since we know nothing about NT depth charts we can't be sure). 

Old Pic from the late '90's
Girl in front NCAA bound, behind 2007-08 pro from Italy

I coached for a long time without supporting NCAA play for Canadians; didn't fight it but didn't support it either. It wasn't until I had female players being overlooked for national teams while they were offered pro contracts in Italy, or having girls told to move to Montreal to get support, that I decided it was wrong to not help them improve down south. There are no english speaking female players who have moved to Montreal to the Training Centre and have graduated from a Canadian University there. That is sad since it should be possible to combine post secondary education and training. In fact, 2 players from the Hawaii NCAA program combined studies and training that still allowed them to win Olympic gold medals this past summer after a brief return home to prepare with their national team.

Coaches in Canada have been talking for some time about using National Team cards (financial support) to help Ontario university programs attract players and keep them in Canada while boosting the level and status of the OUA league. The only thing stopping that is .... well, nothing should stop that. It just is not supported by NT coaches right now.

Hopefully I will be around long enough to help make the changes to our domestic program that I have been after for a decade or so. In fact, this past weekend the youngest member of our club told me I could not retire for 10 more years. He wanted to be sure I was coaching until he was 18. I would say that is one of the warmest compliments I have had in a very long time. But, I don't quite have 10 years of high end coaching left in me.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Finally, a new blog entry

It's been quite some time since I last sat down to update this blog, sorry. I have been busy but also preoccupied with negative BS in the water polo world that I didn't want to write about.

This past weekend we had some friendly inter-club games with the Saskatchewan Provincial Team at Pan Am Pool. That gave us a really good early season snapshot of what the players know and how strong and fit they are. The absence of game knowledge was surprising for the girls and that is not explained by the fact that their national team members were away at other events. The boys, that was a different story, they picked up ahead of where the finished last year.

After 2 weeks of formal training this fall we have a decent fitness level and good passing mechanics and strength. What was poor was pass selection and leg strength with the ball. We'll deal with that in weeks ahead as we do drills that include partner work. The best thing to come out of the weekend was the interplay between Heather and the boys.

Some people thought I had lost my mind when I named Heather, a 20 year old woman, to coach an 18& under boys team. Hopefully this weekend helped people see what I am after as she was very calm, direct and specific about what she wanted and expected. The boys were better each game and seemed to follow what they were asked to. There is more excitement to come as Heather starts to share some experience from her pro career in Italy with these guys.

Now that Breda has finished her NCAA visits to the tropics and Shae is home from CSL we can turn our attention to serious training and getting ready for the Sask Open. That will be a good time to look at teams in relation to real games vs training.