The United States Men’s Water Polo team is set and ready to go to Beijing for the Olympics, but not before organizing a fundraiser in San Diego to promote themselves and to get the San Diego community excited about the Beijing games.
The Olympic water polo team played the Sunset San Diego Water Polo Club at the UC San Diego Canyonview pool on July 12. It was a 78-degree sunny day with small clouds scattering throughout the sky, making for a perfect day for water polo. The crowd got to see the athletes in action before they will see them from its television screens. Although the result of the match was meaningless, it was an important event for the team.
The team organized the event for the San Diego community because they did not get to schedule any games in that area during Olympic preparations.
They trained primarily at Oak Christian High School and other various collegiate pools in the greater Los Angeles area. San Diego, as is Orange County, has a substantial water polo fan base. It was important for the team to give the fans something to get excited and feel proud about.
One of the highlights of the event was when young athletes were given a chance to shoot against the Olympic goalies. The kids’ eyes glowed as they got to not only be in the same pool as their heroes, but also compete against them. The parents and friends in the crowd cheered, creating an emotional scene that brought the enthusiasm from the locals and the world-class athletes together.
The competition was nothing like that of the powerhouses in Europe, but the impact was potent. In a sport where its popularity is largely concentrated on the coasts, it is important for the national team to soak support from those in states like California, especially when that support is needed both emotionally and financially.
“I grew up wanting to play games like this. The crowd brought out the best of both sides. What could have been a simple club game became a shining example of everything great about our sport,” said Tim Hutten, who won the Cutino Award at UCI last season and is now a defender for Team USA.
The Olympians organized the event on their own. The U.S. Olympic Committee cut funds for various reasons, leaving many of the players having to pay for their plane tickets and other preparation out of their own pockets.
On the one-off day they received amidst their intensive preparations for the Olympics, which will begin August 2 for the team, the players made the drive down to San Diego to hold this event.
The players took care of everything from the organization of the event to the advertising, an immense task considering their grueling schedule and already minimal salary.
“We will build on this outing and the chants of USA will ring in our ears as we stand on the podium,” Hutten said.
You can support the 13 players by donating to www.giveloveevents.com. All the proceeds will be evenly divided amongst the players and help them on their journey for the gold.