BHSF Opens the 2017-18 Season this Saturday

Brooklyn Heights. This Saturday the Brooklyn Heights St. Francis Water Polo Club (BHSF) opens the 2017-18 season this season at the St. Francis Brooklyn Pool.

Following the most successful season in years—BHSF sent U14 boys and girls entries to Junior Olympic Northeast Regional Qualifications last May in Greenwich—the club looks for more success in the new season, starting with competition later this month at the Tri-State League, the East Coast's most competitive age group program.

Head Coach Carl Quigley, Assistant Coach Bosko Stankovic, BHSF U14 JO entry at Greenwich YMCA

Head Coach Carl Quigley, Assistant Coach Bosko Stankovic, BHSF U14 JO entry at Greenwich YMCA

BHSF Presents End-Of-Year Awards

Following its last practice of the 2016-17 season, the Brooklyn Heights St. Francis Water Polo Club handed out awards to the following players for their performances this season.

Individual medals were awarded to all the boys and girls who represented BHSF at the 2017 Junior Olympics Northeast Regional Competition at the Greenwich YMCA.

Categories:
Most Improved Boy: Gaba Semein
Most Improved Girl: Olivia Miller-Smith
MVP Boy U16/U18: Melchior Tamisier-Fayard
Co-MVP Boy U12/U14: Oscar Radu
Co-MVP Boy U12/U14: Osiris Russell-Delano
MVP Girl U12/U14: Genevieve Randazzo
MVP Boy U8/U10: Noah Castillo
MVP Girl U8/U10: Mia Stankovic
Goalie of the Year: Lucas Martinez Rodriguez
Spirit Award Boy: Luka Gangemi
Spirit Award Girl: Maya Goldgisser
Coach of the Year: Emma Gaffney

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First Girls Team from NYC Qualifies for 2017 Junior Olympics

The very first girls team from New York City—a U14 entry from Brooklyn Heights St. Francis—qualified for the 2017 Junior Olympics at Northeast Regional Qualifications this past spring. Coached by Megan Husak, the team, consisting of girls ages 10 to 14 from the city's oldest youth water polo club, was featured in a write-up in Total Water Polo, one of the premier websites covering the sport nationally.

Read here to find out all about the maiden voyage of a talented and determined group of girls and the sport they love.

Head coach Megan Husak speaks with her players on the Greenwich Aquatics pool deck

Head coach Megan Husak speaks with her players on the Greenwich Aquatics pool deck

Snowball Showdown Kicks Off Eastern Youth Polo Season

At the recent Snowball Showdown, a BHSF U12 team finished fifth out of six teams, thanks to an 11-9 win over Chelsea Piers Gold team. BHSF dropped both of its games on the opening day of the tournament — 16-8 to Chelsea Piers Blue and11-7 to Greenwich Aquatics White.

For more information about the Showdown, now the largest youth polo tournament in the Northeast, please read a recent post about the event at Swimming World's website.

Photo Courtesy: Chelsea Piers Connecticut

Photo Courtesy: Chelsea Piers Connecticut

There’s A New Team in Town; Asphalt Green Scrimmages at St. Francis

BROOKLYN HEIGHTS. On an unseasonably warm January evening in Brooklyn, a new participant arrived on the New York City youth water polo scene and was immediately embraced.

Asphalt Green—featuring U12 and U16 squads sporting spiffy black and red caps and—ventured outside their spacious Upper East Side environs to scrimmage in the St. Francis College pool. Bela Rex-Kiss, Asphalt Green’s coach and a formerly onthe Terrier’s varsity men’s team, was understandably excited by two milestones taken last Saturday night by his fledgling program.

“This was the first time our Asphalt Green youth team played against another team, and away from our home pool,” he said in an email. “The game was a great learning experience for us. I'm thankful to our hosts and for the support of parents that made it happen.”

Acknowledging the importance of venturing into the Brooklyn youth water polo scene — where the city’s three other clubs reside — Rex-Kiss spoke of additional matches.

“These games are an invaluable opportunity to gain skills and experience, and moving forward Zoli [Danko, coach of the Imagine Swimming Mako Polo team] and I will continue to work together to organize them on a regular basis to the benefit of both teams.”

For Danko, who like Rex-Kiss left Hungary to compete for St. Francis, the scrimmage was a testament to the growth of the sport in the nation’s most populous city.

“We are excited to see another club emerging in the city,” he said via email. “Having Asphalt Green on the youth water polo map will help us creating a NYC league with local teams that can raise awareness of water polo among the thousands of young swimmers in our area.”

Then, striking a note that will be music to the ears of youth polo players all over the city who are eager to compete in one of the region’s finest aquatics facilities, Danko added:

“Hopefully, AGUA will be able to host youth water polo tournaments in the future at their beautiful pool in Manhattan. We look forward to taking the subway to Manhattan for away games.”

BHSF U12s Travel to Stamford for Snowball Showdown

On January 28th and 29th a team of U12 players from Brooklyn Heights St. Francis (BHSF) will again compete in the Snowball Showdown, hosted by Chelsea Piers in Stamford, Connecticut.

“The Snowball Showdown is a great way for our players to get ready for a season of very competitive play this spring,” said Bosko Stankovic, coach for BHSF’s U12 group.

On Saturday, the Brooklynites will face host Chelsea Piers Blue at 12:10 p.m. and familiar foe Greenwich White at 3:30 p.m. Based upon the results from those matches, BHSF will return to Stamford on Sunday either to play in the 3rd place game at 11:20 a.m. or the 2nd place game at 12:10 p.m. The winner of the 12:10 p.m. game will compete for first at 2:40 p.m.

Last year in the first-ever Showdown, BHSF placed third on the strength of strong showing against the same field of teams.

Suiting up this weekend for BHSF are: Conner Gangemi, Luka Gangemi, Aaron Gershkov, Lucas Martinez Rodriguez, John McMorrow, Tommy McMorrow, Olivia Miller Smith, Eric Pliskin, Calvin Radu, Oscar Radu, Genevieve Randazzo, Owen Randazzo, Osiris Russell-Delano, Mia Stankovic and Elekta Urbatsch.

BHSF 2016 U12 Squad Sporting Snowball Showdown 3rd Place Medals

BHSF 2016 U12 Squad Sporting Snowball Showdown 3rd Place Medals

St. Francis Looks to Rebound From Disappointing Loss With 3 Home Matches

After making Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) history on Wednesday night at Princeton, NJ in the first ever Northeastern Water Polo Conference (NWPC) match — a tough 9-8 loss to the host Tigers — the St. Francis Brooklyn men’s water polo team (4-7; 0-1 NWPC) looks to bounce back in conference matches at home this weekend against rivals Brown, Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

First up is M.I.T. (4-3; 0-0 NWPC) at 11am in the Generoso Pope Athletic Center pool. The Engineers seek a second straight win over their Brooklyn rivals following last year's 14-13 win in Cambridge — breaking a 22 year-long losing streak to the Terriers.

At 5pm, Harvard University (10-1; 0-0 NWPC) — #8 in the latest CWPA Men's Varsity Poll and the East's top-ranked squad — will be up next for St. Francis. The Crimson will look to extend a modest three-match winning streak over the Terriers, including a 13-8 victory in the 2015 CWPA playoffs.

On Sunday at 10am Brown University (8-5; 0-0 NWPC) will revisit one of the fiercest rivalries in Eastern water polo. In 2014 the Bears ended the Terriers’ run of nine-straight Northern Division titles on their way to their first appearance in the NCAA Men's Water Polo Tournament in 29 years.

Wednesday night’s contest was a back and forth affair which left the St. Francis faithful largely disappointed. The Terriers, who fell behind by two goals within the first 2 minutes of the match and trailed 7-4 midway through the third period, rallied to tie the Tigers at 8-all late in the fourth on a shot by Luka Budak. The 6-7 freshman’s goal capped an uphill struggle against Vojislav Mitrovic, Princeton’s superb junior netminder who registered a program high 20 saves, none bigger than a stop against St. Francis captain Ilija Djuretic on a penalty shot midway through the second period.

Given the chance to give his team the lead with less than three minutes remaining by virtue of a questionable 5-meter penalty agains the visitors, Tigers junior Jordan Colina didn’t miss, capping a four-goal game with a blast past Terrier freshman goalie Viktor Klauzer. The game’s final tally gave Princeton (8-5; 1-0 NWPC) the win in this first-ever regular season meeting between two of the East’s best programs.

Sophomores Nikita Prokhin and Botond Kadar led St. Francis with two goals each, while freshman Will Lampkin had a strong game, netting a goal while matched up against the speedy Colina.

Despite the loss, St. Francis has an excellent opportunity on Saturday to get back into the NWPC mix; a strong showing this weekend — especially against Harvard's experienced attackers Colin Chiapello, Joey Colton, and Noah Harrison — will do wonders for the confidence of a young Terrier lineup.

All matches take place in the St. Francis Brooklyn pool (180 Remsen Street — between Court and Clinton Streets in Brooklyn Heights). For more information contact the St. Francis Brooklyn Athletics Department.

St. Francis sophomore Nikita Prokhin in action last year against Harvard

St. Francis sophomore Nikita Prokhin in action last year against Harvard

Dr. Oz On Water Polo's Health Benefits & Risks

Mehmet Oz — Harvard class of 1982 who played goalie for the Crimson men’s water polo in 1980 and ‘81 — is best known as the star of “The Dr. Oz Show,” a syndicated television program focused on issues related to medicine and personal health.

Dr. Oz, who touts an active lifestyle on his blog, spoke recently with New York-based water polo journalist Michael Randazzo about his continued passion for water polo, the sport’s pronounced health benefits, the concussion risk that links polo and football, the US National Men’s and Women’s Water Polo teams and Michael Jordan, the former Chicago Bulls basketball star.

The full transcript of Dr. Oz’s comments is included at TotalWaterPolo.com.

Image Courtesy the Dr. Oz Show

Image Courtesy the Dr. Oz Show

US Water Polo Players Splash Down in Brooklyn Heights

What if you could meet four Olympians — especially those bearing gold medals earned recently at the Rio Games?

That’s what young athletes from the Brooklyn Heights St. Francis water polo club experienced this week in Brooklyn Heights. Kami Craig, Kaleigh Gilchrist, Ashleigh Johnson and Courtney Mathewson — members of the U.S. Senior National Women’s Water Polo Team that secured back-to-back Olympic titles by virtue of a 12-5 win over Italy— spoke at St. Francis Brooklyn about realizing their dreams.

Read the full story in the Brooklyn Courier

Members of BHSF Water Polo Club w/Olympians Kami Craig, Kaleigh Gilchrist, Courtney Mathewson and Ashleigh Johnson

Members of BHSF Water Polo Club w/Olympians Kami Craig, Kaleigh Gilchrist, Courtney Mathewson and Ashleigh Johnson

LIU Swim Camp Offers Water Polo With Assist from St. Francis Brooklyn

In a rare twist, Terriers are coming to the aid of their closest rivals, the Blackbirds.

Melanie Brooks and Jonas Veazey — members respectively of St. Francis Brooklyn women’s and men’s water polo teams — will join this year’s Blackbird Swim Camp at LIU Brooklyn. Brooks, the starting goalie for the Terriers, and Veazey, a defender who this fall begins his second season at St. Francis, will provide water polo instruction to compliment the program’s focus on swimming technique, endurance and conditioning.

Launched in 2014, LIU’s week-long camp — scheduled to run August 15 – 19 from 9am to 3pm — features Red Cross WSI-certified instructors in downtown Brooklyn’s finest aquatics facility. Blackbird Swim Camp offers exceptional instruction and ample pool time, enabling young athletes ages seven to 14 to improve their skills for competition with a swim club or water polo team.

Camp Program:
8:30-9:00AM Drop off/pool prep
9:00-10:30AM Swim instruction
10:35AM 11:00AM Strength Drills
11:00AM-12:00PM Swim instruction
12:00-12:45PM LUNCH
12:45 – 1:15PM Coach talk / Video stroke optimization
1:30 - 3:30PM Water Polo
3:30PM pick up

For more information please email ChildrensAdacemy@liu.edu

BHSF U15s Trip to Lake Mohawk Featured in TotalWaterPolo.com

Last June, when a group of Brooklyn Heights St. Francis U15 players made the trek to the Lake Mohawk Pool in Sparta, New Jersey, who should be waiting for them at an exhibition tournament set up by Brooklyn Wets founder Granger Abuhoff? Y Pro Water Polo. The Sheepshead Bay-based boy’s club — BHSF rivals the past decade — and the Grays from St. Benedict Prep in Newark, NJ, joined BHSF for a round-robin tournament held at an absolutely stunning outdoor facility nestled in the northwestern corner of the state.

TotalWaterPolo.com has the complete story about our players’ experiences with polo under blue skies, including a quote from BHSF’s Elijah Fox.

“Once I got over the initial shock of the pool being perhaps the coldest water I’ve ever swum in, I was taken by the raw authenticity of playing under the sun,” Fox said.

Also making the trip were: Owen Comer, Calvin Corpus, Maya Goldgisser, Cash Mills, Brian and Mark Polito, Oscar Radu, Genevieve and Owen Randazzo, David Rogovoy, Jyoti and Melchior Tamisier-Fayard, and Richard Vilcinsh.

The TotalWaterPolo.com piece can be found here.

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Greg Mescall of USA Water Polo Visits BHSF

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.

BHSF's Carl Quigley and USA Water Polo's Greg Mescall at St. Francis Brooklyn

BHSF's Carl Quigley and USA Water Polo's Greg Mescall at St. Francis Brooklyn

Interviews with Olympians Tony Azevedo and Courtney Mathewson

With the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games mere months away, the United States Olympic Committee is pulling out all the stops to spread the Olympic spirit. Team USA’s Road to Rio—a nationwide extravaganza featuring nine stops across the country—touched down last month in New York City’s Times Square. Luminaries including Michelle Obama and UConn head coach Geno Auriemma communed with 85 Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls in joining the countdown to the opening ceremony of the Games of the XXXI Olympiad on August 5 in Rio de Janeiro’s Maracanã Stadium.

At the Road to Rio event I interviewed Team USA water polo athletes Courtney Mathewson and Tony Azevedo, who spoke passionately of their Olympic experience and expectations.

U15s Seek 2nd-Straight Undefeated AWP Season on Saturday

This Saturday the Brooklyn Heights St. Francis U15 coed team travels to Upper Dublin High School in Fort Washington, PA, seeking to extend two seasons of dominance in Main Line League play. With matches against Spartan Pride at 12:20 and 2pm versus Trojan Aquatics, the Brooklynites will look to compete yet another undefeated season against American Water Polo competition.

With resounding wins two weeks ago over those same teams, the prospects for continued success appear good. On April 23rd BHSF (4-0) beat Trojan Aquatics 18-4 in the day’s first match and then took the nightcap 17-2 over Spartan Pride.

Owen Comer, Matija Kojic and Melchior Tamisier-Fayard were strong on offense while Victoria Haimov, Mark Polito and Jyoti Tamisier-Fayard delivered on defense, continually disrupting Trojan and Spartan attacks. Calvin Corpus started both games in goal and was ably relieved by Cash Mills.

Richard Vilcinsh — late of the BHSF U12 squad —and Sami Shif also contributed, with newcomer Shif scoring his first-ever goal in organized play. Atticus Kaplan — a key player from last year’s team that swept AWP opponents (6-0) — returned and was a force on both sides of the ball.

With Two Wins BHSF U15s Remain Unbeaten in AWP's Main Line League

Last weekend BHSF’s U15 squad opened play in American Water Polo’s Main Line League. Extending a winning tradition dating from last Spring, BHSF won the first match 15-12 over host Upper Dublin, then dominated Central York to the tune of 19-1. 

Starting in goal was Calvin Corpus, who came up with a number of big saves in the first game. Evan Karvounis from our U12 team dominated in the second game while the brother and sister duo of Melchior and Jyoti Tamisier-Fayard delivered strong performances. Owen Comer and Victoria Haimov also distinguished themselves as BHSF won its eighth strait match in Main Line League play.

Also making the trip to Upper Dublin High School in Fort Washington, PA were Sam Hafetz, Oscar Radu, David Rogovoy and Richard Vilcinsh.

BHSF will return to Fort Washington on Saturday, April 23rd to face Trojan Aquatics at 12:20pm and Spartan Pride 15 Coed at 1:10pm.

U12 Girls Team Notches Two Wins in 1st Weekend of Main Line League Play

In their very first experience playing an organized match, a combined BHSF / Imagine Swimming Mako Polo U12 girls team found that their teamwork and competitive fire were more than enough for the American Water Polo’s Main Line novice division bracket.

Genevieve Randazzo scored the inaugural goal in the combined team’s history, one of many on the day for the 12 year-old BHSF player, as her team scored a 16-5 win over PV Valhalla in the North Penn High School pool. Bebe Curie and Emelia Grace of the Makos as well as BHSF’s Maya Goldgisser and Mia Stankovic supplied additional firepower, while Maya Angles, Maggie Curie, Mimi Sammons, Elektra Urbatch, Talia Willscher and Julia Wolfson anchored a tenacious defensive effort that shut out PV Valhalla until midway through the fourth quarter.

The team’s second match, against Upper Dublin, was a back-and-forth affair that saw the visitors from Brooklyn go up early and maintain a lead throughout a high-scoring affair that ended 16-13 in favor of our combined team. The Curie sisters, Grace and Randazzo supplied the offense, while Goldgisser, Urbatch and Wolfson rotated through the net and stifled the home team in the fourth quarter.

Dragana “Gaga” Manojlovic of the Makos coached the team with an assist by parent George Stankovic.

Next up: games on Saturday, April 9 against the Kingfish and the Perkasie Pirates.

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All-Girl Brooklyn U12 Team Begins Play in AWP’s Main Line League

This Saturday in Fort Washington, PA, Brooklyn youth water polo will take a big step forward as a team of girls drawn from Brooklyn Heights St. Francis and Imagine Swimming Mako Polo will play their first-ever match in the U12 Novice division of America Water Polo’s Main Line League.

With four girls from BHSF’s roster—Maya Goldgisser, Genevieve Randazzo, Mia Stankovic and Elektra Urbatsch—and seven from the Makos, this group will play PV Valhalla at 4:30 p.m. followed immediately afterwards by a match against Upper Dublin.

“It's a great opportunity for our girls to work together as a team and develop the skills and experience to become better players,” Maureen Boucher, mother to Genevieve Randazzo, said.

The combined team will play a total of six matches over the following dates: April 2nd; Saturday, April 9th against the Kingfish and the Perkasie Pirates; Saturday April 23rd versus Maverick Polo and Trojan Aquatics.

All matches will be played at North Penn High School, 1340 Valley Forge Road, Lansdale, PA 19446.

Rocky, St. Francis Brooklyn mascot, pays a visit to BHSF/Mako U12 girls team practice

USA National Team Goalie Ashleigh Johnson Named Semifinalist for James E. Sullivan AAU Award

Ashleigh Johnson, one of the most exceptional athletes you never heard of, was named a semi-finalist last week for the James E. Sullivan AAU Award, given annually to the top American amateur athlete.

Johnson, the starting goalie for the USA National Women’s Water Polo team and a 21 year-old Princeton student, has taken a break from her studies to pursue Olympic gold in the upcoming games in Brazil after being named the 2015 Collegiate Water Polo Association Player of the Year and leading the Tigers to the NCAA Women's Water Polo tournament.

Among Princeton athletes, only Bill Bradley, the forward whose sweet shot powered the U.S. to Olympic gold in the 1964 Tokyo games, has been selected, in 1965, for the award considered to be amateur athletics’ “Oscar”. Johnson is the only Princeton water polo player to ever be nominated for this prestigious honor.

USA Men’s Head Coach Udovicic Looks to Transform American Water Polo

Dejan Udovicic, head coach of the USA Men’s National water polo program does not lack for confidence. Tapped in May 2013 to revive the fortunes of an American men’s program that finished a disappointing eighth in the 2012 London Olympics, Udovicic is readying the US for the upcoming 2016 Olympics in Brazil and — equally important — changing the culture of a program that has been denied Olympic gold since the 1904 games in St. Louis.

“I didn’t come [to America] for a team that will finish on the international level in fifth, or seventh or eighth place in the world,” Udovicic — a stocky, powerfully-built 45 year-old — said poolside at the 2015 CWPA Men’s Water Polo Championships last November. “I came here to win all the tournaments we play and become the first seed in the world.”

Bold words perhaps but Udovicic has enjoyed success at every level of water polo he has been involved with. First as a player for VK Partizan, Serbia’s premier water polo club, then as Partizan’s head coach from 2000 – 2009, he led the club to four national championships, four national cups and an appearance in the Euroleague final four. A tenure helming Serbia’s Olympic program was also significant: the Serbs captured bronze in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. The roster that Udovicic built remains mostly intact; ten players from the past two Olympics will compete in 2016 for Serbia, considered to be the world’s best squad.

<Click here for full transcript of Udovicic interview>