Editors Note: On June 6th Greg Mescall, Director of Communications for USA Water Polo, visited St. Francis Brooklyn to see for himself what Brooklyn polo is all about. During his visit, Greg filmed “The Counter Attack” his regular feature, including news on the USA Men’s and Women’s National Teams, masters competition and club events. He also interviewed BHSF founder Carl Quigley, Assistant Coach Bosko Stankovic, and players Evan Karvounis and Genevieve Randazzo.
While on the deck, Greg spoke with Michael Randazzo about his role at USA Water Polo, ways in which local clubs can benefit from their USA Water Polo memberships and what fans might expect from the men’s and women’s teams in the upcoming Rio Olympics.
Michael Randazzo, BHSF: Welcome to Brooklyn! I know you keep very busy; what exactly do you do on behalf of USA Water Polo?
Greg Mescall, USA Water Polo: My official title is Director of Communications. I do a variety of things: public relations, all of our social media accounts and then host all of our video programs whether it’s webcasting matches or our weekly “Counter Attack” program which is what brings me to Brooklyn Heights today.
In an Olympic year, like the one we’re in now, [it’s] a heavy focus on the promotion of our Olympic teams because there’s an increased interest from national and local media. A lot of my time has been devoted to that in the last six to twelve months.
Randazzo: How will local fans experience your promotional efforts leading up to the Rio Olympics?
Mescall: If you look at New York City, it’s the number one media market in the country. A lot of the focus on our teams have come from outlets here, whether it’s print magazines, newspapers, television stations or the major networks [NBC will televise the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio beginning on August 5th]. We're coming back here at the end of June — early July with our Women’s National Team for a couple of exhibition games against Hungary [June 29th, 7pm at the Greenwich YMCA and July 2nd, 2pm at Fordham University]. So it’s great to bring that caliber of water polo to an area like this.
And Olympic year or not our focus is growing the sport of water polo. If we can shine a light on a great facility and club like this maybe that gives confidence to others to start a club or to try water polo or to realize that — even if your not in a “hot bed” for the sport — the game is still for you.
Randazzo: What might a youth club in the metropolitan New York area expect from their USA Water Polo membership?
Mescall: One of the things we try and do is to encourage them to do what they're doing. You look at a club like this, letting them know that there are plenty of opportunities for them, that if they want to take that next step — I think many people are familiar with Junior Olympics and some of the larger tournaments — but that might not be everyone’s immediate first step out the door. It can be playing against your fellow USA Water Polo club. Or perhaps you organize a league where some of your clubs within driving distance all get together. People in our office are happy to help facilitate local leagues, membership and playing opportunities, and walk [member clubs] through how to takes to the casual water polo experience and make it more organized.
Randazzo: You’ll be in Rio with both the men’s and women’s teams. What might USA water polo fans expect from our national teams?
Mescall: It’s going to be a very exciting opportunity for people to see water polo on a grand stage.
You have two different programs; you have our women’s team that is number one in the world, defending Olympic champs, they would enter that event presumably as the favorite. So there’s a certain level of pressure on them to not only do well but to defend the result that they earned four years ago in London. In recent years there’s no indication that they won’t be in the mix for success.
They’ll be the first to tell you that every tournament is it’s own thing. Just because they did well two weeks ago doesn’t mean the result is a lock two weeks from now. They have to show up and play their very best to achieve their very best.
Conversely, for our men’s water polo team, they have a much different look from a group that finished in London with a lower result than they had hoped. I know they’re very excited. They have a much younger team, they have a new coach since the London Olympic games. They’re excited to show what they can do out there. They’ve had some impressive results that past couple of years and they’re hoping that it will all come together for that penultimate event that is the Olympic games.