Wittenberg University

Wittenberg University – Women’s Water Polo.


We caught up with Elissa Manchester, Freshman at Wittenberg University. Elissa was the main driver in getting Wittenberg to start a varsity women’s water polo team. Elissa is studying education and biology and has future dreams of being an Occupational Therapist in a special needs program. In her spare time, other than swimming and water polo, she likes to spend time with friends and family and teaching swim lessons to children with special needs.

Per the Wittenberg University website: Women’s water polo will be the 25th sport offered at Wittenberg, as the Tigers most recently added men’s volleyball as an NCAA sport in 2016. The team will compete as an NCAA Division III varsity program in the spring of 2018.

OWP: Where did you grow up? High school? What team did you play with? Coaches?
EM: I grew up in Columbus Ohio, attended Worthington Kilbourne High School and played water polo there. My coach was Lauren Wallace and Olivia Miranda.

OWP: Why did you want to start a program at Wittenberg?
EM: I wanted to start a club at Wittenberg because I love playing water polo and after Courtney died this past summer I wanted to start a club in memory of her. Water polo meant so much to her and she was the one that got me started with it. Courtney meant so much to me so consequently I picked up on her love of the sport.

OWP: Did you think it could get to varsity level without a club not even there yet?
EM: I had no idea that there was a possibly of making it a varsity sport. I went to my assistant coach telling him my plans of making a club and he told me that if I worked hard enough there was a good chance the school would make it a varsity team. Later in the swim season, my head coach called me over to tell me that the school needed another women’s sport and that he had told our AD that a swimmer expressed interest in starting a club, and they had decided to make the new women’s team would be water polo. I had only mentioned the club I wanted to start to a few of my friends because I couldn’t start working on it until after swim season ended, but we didn’t even make it that far before the school decided that they would make it a varsity sport. I was beyond thrilled when they told me the news.

OWP: Support from others? Who helped you drive to your objective?
EM: My assistant swim coach, James Dumstorf, said he would help me get the club up and running but we didn’t get that far. The head coach, William Bernhardt, had already been talking to the athletic director and they decided to make it a varsity sport.

OWP: I understand you have a relationship with Courtney. Please describe.
EM: Courtney was a really good friend of mine. We were teammates on the water polo team and swim team at WKHS. On top of already being good friends, we worked together last summer and grew our relationship even more. She was more than my teammate and my friend, she was my role model and I am so thankful that I got the chance to tell her that many times (probably too many times) before she passed. Courtney was everything I wanted to be, driven, smart, funny, she was an overall exceptional person. I know that I wouldn’t have done or accomplished nearly as much as I have without having Courtney Fisher as my role model, witnessing her drive to succeed has given me my drive, observing how compassionate she is towards everyone and everything has given me compassion, everything about her is truly amazing. I’m honored to have known her, I wish I had had more time to learn and grow from her. She loved people with all of her heart and I loved her with all of mine. I think about her every single day and I try to model my life after hers, I believe it is crucial that everyone who knew her work to pass on her legacy, she will never be forgotten. How could she be? She impacted every single person she met in an immensely positive way.

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USA Water Polo Awards

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.


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Player Spotlight

Ohiowaterpolo.com will be highlighting a high school player in the state each week on the Spotlight page. This week we highlighted 4 players. Visit the Spotlight page to see.

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State Championships

Schedules for both the boys and girls state championships have been posted here

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Player Spotlight

Ohiowaterpolo.com will be highlighting a high school player in the state each week on the Spotlight page. This week we highlighted 3 players. Visit the Spotlight page to see.

Posted in Player Spotlight | Leave a comment