So far my experience in the U.S has been a great cultural experience with an extremely busy schedule. I have been in the US for two months now and have seen some fantastic parts of America and have found the trip to be extremely beneficial.
The first tournament I would attend is the Junior Olympics (JO). This is the national championship for club teams from age groups U10 through to U18. There are 700 boys and girls teams involved with approximately 100 teams in each age group. Its held at over 30 pools in the Orange County area with both boys and girls competitions running for 4 days with a day off in-between.
Friday arrived and this was the official opening day for JOs. A JOs expo was held which included opportunities to attend seminars on being a complete athlete, pathways to college Water Polo, meet and greets with college coaches, coaches and referees meetings and opportunities to mingle with coaches, players and parents. I was also introduced to members of the Big Valley Water Polo Academy teams from Stockton, California, this were the teams I would be following around for the next 2 weeks.
The boy’s competition ran from Friday through until Tuesday with Big Valley having some great results against quality competition. The U14s had a huge improvement finishing 16th overall, beating their 29th from the year before. The U16s finished 30th overall and the U18s finishing 25th.
On our day off a few of the coaches and myself went down to Huntington beach to watch the US open of surfing this was a great spectacle with 50,000 spectators attending the event on the day we were there. Spectators were able to walk up onto the pier and watch the competition from a side on position.
Thursday kicked off the girl’s tournament with Big Valley having teams in the U14 and U16 divisions. Both teams played extremely well and again had fantastic results with the U16 team finishing 29th and the U14s team finishing 35th overall.
After the final games we travelled 6hrs back to Stockton where I arrived at my new house for the next 5 months. I am living with Joey Gullikson who came out to Australia back in 2011 to play and coach and is now the assistant coach at University of the Pacific.
After a few days settling in and catching up with friends practice began this past week at St Mary’s High School. The teams train at their own private pool on campus as well as using a brand new gym for weights training. We hold 7 trainings a week which includes two swim sessions two mornings a week, two weights sessions two nights a week and five Water Polo sessions five afternoons per week.
There are 2 boy’s teams and 2 girl’s teams with the teams being split up into years 9 and 10 (Junior Varsity) as well as 11 and 12 (Varsity). The teams have just completed their pre-season games and training attending tournaments and scrimmages and now head into league games which run until November.
I look forward to keeping everyone up to date on the team’s progress as well as all other fantastic cultural experiences I have during the trip.
Good luck and keep up all the great work back home!