Getting A Water Polo Scholarships

The Situation

Water polo, sadly, is not really a common sport, like basketball or football. Some high school people may not have access to the facilities required by a water polo squad, let alone actually maintain a team. A large number of universities and colleges tend to allocate their aquatic training facilities to the swim teams, though a few do have water polo teams as well. It is this niche nature of the sport that is one of two primary difficulties in a student getting a water polo athletic scholarship.

Most schools that have water polo teams tend to be very aggressive in recruiting new talent. Since there are only limited slots and even more limited potential players, coaches can sometimes be given the authority to “re-allocate” the scholarships, spreading out the financial coverage to cover the whole team for periods that do not cover the student's expected stay in the school. Only the best are ever selected by the coaches, and even those students may not be offered a scholarship package that will cover their entire stay in the school.

For the most part, full scholarships will be divided into individual years and distributed across the whole team. By doing so, the coach does not go over the budget alloted by the administration, but still manages to recruit a solid competing team for the school. Individual players are less focused on in water polo, with the focal point of the sport resting evenly on the entire team. While exceptional talents are more likely to be offered scholarships, most water polo coaches prefer to keep the skill levels and sets as even as possible.

Educational Institutions With Established Water Polo Athletic Scholarship Programs

As stated earlier, not all universities will even have a water polo squad so the pickings are a little slim. To make matters worse, the funding given to the team is only a minuscule fraction of what the educational institution's financial resources are. The best chance that someone has of getting a water polo athletic scholarship is to apply at a school that has both an established water polo competition squad and sizable financial resources. However, be sure to take the time to check whether your level of skill is qualified for that school or not.

For example, Stanford University is a prominent, high-class institution with an established water polo division. The alumni are fervent supporters of all the academic programs, and several Stanford players have been listed as All-Americans. Stanford is actually among the few universities that has the financial resources to potentially offer full scholarships to the core roster of a team, though most coaches still advise players to build up their academics and take advantage of the institution's substantially larger budget for academic funding.

The San Diego branch of the University of California has an excellent water polo squad. However, the school administration prefers that students in the water polo squad have academic merit and talent, so the scholarships offered are never for the full stay of a student. In a typical situation, an applicant will need to show the mental faculties to maintain a rigorous academic regime along with water polo. In fact, the top talent of the sport often ends up being attracted to the rich finances provided by the combined academic and athletic program rather than a purely athletic one.

The University of Southern California also does an excellent job at keeping a top-notch water polo team for the school. Some of the top-ranked athletes in the sport have studied in USC, and many suggest that this school is the most likely to provide talented applicants with a full athletic scholarship. However, as with most other schools that have water polo teams, an applicant would have to have an incredible, near-prodigious level of talent before securing a full athletic scholarship. However, the mixed scholarships in USC are considered to be less demanding that those of the school's counterparts.

For female players, an additional option comes in the form of the University of Hawaii. This particular school has an incredible female water polo squad and ranks as being among the best schools in the area. Sadly, while the facilities are top-notch and the scholarship programs are incredible, the school only caters to female students.

Bits Of Advice

Water polo, as has been repeated throughout this piece, is not exactly a common sport. There are very few schools that offer a scholarship for this sport, for the simple reason that very few schools actually have an established water polo unit. The lack of attention that the sport gets, even within the collegiate level, has also caused a significant lack of funds available to be used for the scholarships. Serious applicants will have higher chances of applying for an academic scholarship rather than an athletic one, or to agree to get an academic scholarship to supplement the partial athletic one.