Congratulations to Steve Coupland and Paul Splitt on their 2016 USA Water Polo (USAWP) Awards. We checked in with Steve and Paul to ask them about their water polo experiences.
Steve Coupland – USAWP Member, Ohio Squirrels Water Polo Club (OSWPC) & Central Valley Water Polo Club (CVWPC) Player and Ohio Water Polo Camp Instructor
How many years have you been a part of the sport whether it be player, coach, instructor, etc? I have been involved in water polo for the past 39 years.
Where did you learn how to play water polo? I began playing in the summer of 1978 with other members of the Merced Skimmers swim team. Our coach, Flip Hasset, had played in college and he wanted to teach the sport to others. A few years later he coached the women’s USA National team to a world title. It was not organized back then, so we were not a club. We practiced at Merced College and had to enroll in a PE class in order to use the pool. I do not think we even had a team name other than “Merced.”
What is your favorite thing about the sport? It was not just swimming back and forth looking at the bottom of the pool. Although we all did continue to swim, it felt more like a “team sport.” We were all good swimmers and learned the sport together as a group. Most of us played all the way through high school together.
What is the name of the award you won and what does it mean to you? Male Master of the Year Award for the Midwest Zone. It is always nice to be recognized for your efforts. Bryan Weaver was the founder of Masters Water Polo. That first year I began playing with the Central Valley Water Polo Club. They held their first Masters water polo tournament that year. It is still held and is the longest running annual Masters Water Polo tournament in the county.
Paul Splitt – Cincinnati Mavericks High School, Moose Girls Club & USAWP Midwest ODP Coach
How many years have you been a part of the sport whether it be player, coach, instructor, etc? I have been involved in water polo in some capacity for 22 years. First as a player, then as a coach.
Where did you learn how to play water polo? I learned how to play water polo in high school P.E. class at Milford upon which I joined the high school team. I played for Milford 1995-1998.
What is your favorite thing about the sport? The best part of being involved in the sport of water polo is seeing how an athlete can grow as a person out of the water. Through hard work, dedication, goal setting, and building into the people around them, the kids learn so much about life. The lessons learned in through this sport are a microcosm of life, and it gets me amped to see on a regular basis with the kids.
What is the name of the award you won and what does it mean to you? The Brent Bohlender Award – awarded to a women’s coach whose performance exemplifies leadership, excellence, and sportsmanship at the developmental level. This is really the highest honor I can receive as a coach, and it truly means a great deal to me. I take this award very seriously and it is a tremendous honor to be nominated by my peers, and then selected by people around our entire zone for this award. Brent has done a great deal to grow water polo in the United States, and has been an amazing role model for the kids. I hope that I am able to carry on in the same vein as did he, and continue to be a positive role model for the kids and encourage the kids to work the right way towards making their goals come to fruition. I am honored, humbled, and feel very blessed to receive this award.