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.