Hungary for the Gold

Area Water Polo Players Aim to Train with Olympic Champions

SB Water Polo Club boys under 16 team.

This past summer, U.S. water polo fans watched as Hungary crushed any American hopes of winning gold in Beijing. Upon defeating the Americans, Hungary clinched their third straight gold medal in the summer Olympics. Despite using their talent in the water to defeat the U.S Men’s National Team, Hungary now has the ability to prepare the Santa Barbara Water Polo Club’s boys under-16 team to win gold at the Junior National Olympics. But before the boys can train in Hungary, they’ll need help from their community.

In order to train across seas through the Euro Polo Experience camp, the boys hope to raise $20,000, which will reduce a portion of the total $3,000-per-player cost to attend the camp. As a fundraiser for the team, the Santa Barbara Water Polo Club will host an event on Saturday, May 30 at the home of the Parrish family at Hope Ranch. (Tickets include directions and the private home address.) The original May 8 fundraiser was postponed due to the Jesusita Fire.

SB Water Polo Club boys under 16 team.

The event will include hors d’oeuvres, wine tasting, a 50/50 raffle (half the raffle money to the team, half to the raffle winner), and a silent auction, which includes theme baskets stuffed with a mix of gifts under $50, while gifts over $50 will be auctioned off as stand-alone items. The club will accept any silent auction donations. For those who cannot attend, all items will be posted online so bids may still be placed. Companies may also contribute to the team through cash or item donations and will be recognized at the event and online.

The club also has a treat for those who know water polo: U.S. National Coach Terry Schroeder is the keynote speaker. Schroeder ranks as a four-time Olympian who helped the national team win silver in 1984 and 1988. In his first Olympics as head coach, during this past summer in Beijing, Schroeder led the national team to take the silver medal. Schroeder’s appearance at the event will be his first time speaking about the road both before and after the Olympics.

SB Water Polo Club boys under 16 team.

More than 60 boys competed to be one of the 19 elite young men who have been selected to travel to Hungary, and Coach Rich Griguoli knows their dedication. “These boys have a positive attitude, they have mental toughness, and they play with a lot of heart,” Griguoli said. “They work extra hard and this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for them.”

This past year alone the team has proved they can work hard as they have won silver at the Florida International Tournament and gold at the Winterfest tournament in Los Angeles. The boys also finished 14-1 in the Cal Cup league this season. Last year the boys took silver at the Junior National Olympics, and Coach Griguoli knows training abroad can only benefit his team’s game. “Their training is way ahead of ours here in the states,” Griguoli said. “The boys will get to see how the best in the world play the sport.”

SB Water Polo Club boys under 16 team.

The Junior National Olympics will be held in July at Stanford’s Avery Aquatic Complex, a few weeks after the boys finish their training in Hungary. Aside from what competition awaits them at the Junior Olympics, no one is more eager to train than the boys themselves. “We’ll get to play against a country that dominates at the sport,” sophomore goalie Brady Moore said. “It will be a great learning experience for us all.”

Contributions to help the boys train in Hungary can be made through purchasing tickets ($50), direct cash donations, or through items donated for the silent auction. For cash donations or ticket sales contact Ann Silva at (805) 457-4880 or Lenka vanAlphen at (805) 280-1231. For additional questions about the event contact Mark Custance, (805) 758-2474.


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