Thank You

This strange and memorable ODP season is nearly over so I wanted to thank everyone who’s had a connection with this program for your support, hard work, good nature, and kindness over the past eight years.

Last week I informed USA Water Polo that this would be my final season with the Olympic Development Program (after making noises about it for some time!). So prior to our big tournament this weekend I simply wanted to thank you for helping make this experience one of the highlights of my life and coaching career.

It’s an enormous point of pride to have been part of a program that has demonstrably helped improve the quality of water polo in Texas. The credit for that goes to all the coaches from our Zone and nationally who have shared their skills and engaged with our athletes.

Speaking of whom, the greatest pleasure of this program has been training and competing with our tough, curious, competitive, funny, and good-natured athletes. I’ll take Texas athletes over any others. (And I want a rematch with San Diego. One goal!) Though I will remain firmly embedded in the Texas water polo community I’ll miss meeting and working with young ODP athletes.

Every season when we travel to California I get parents from other programs or referees who without prompting walk up and tell me how much they enjoy watching our teams and athletes. Those people notice that the kids play very hard and have fun while remaining gracious, polite and very good teammates. Plus, the coaches treat athletes with respect, they say. There’s nothing that makes me more proud of our program than that kind of unsolicited feedback.

For eight years we’ve asked parents to volunteer their time during our team trips, and every year I’ve been grateful for their enormous help. Without their work our trips would not be as fun and memorable as they were. You know who you are: thanks to all of you.

In my note to USA Water Polo I gave particular credit to two people. One is my friend Sasha Poltunitisky, now Technical Director of San Jose Express, but a decade ago was my assistant (!) at the Priory School in Portola Valley, CA. He taught me more in two years than I learned in the 30 years prior to our friendship. Without him it would have been a very steep learning curve to match ODP’s needs.

And Joe Linehan started it all, asking me to join his staff in 2014 and recommending I take his place the following season. For asking this newcomer to Texas to join the Southwest Zone team, and for the enormous support on which I could always depend, I’ll be forever thankful.

I’ll look forward to seeing our families, athletes, and coaches demonstrate all the characteristics that make Texas water polo so great in San Antonio.

See you on the deck,

James