Water Sports

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USA Water Polo - An Interview with Claudia Dodson

31 Mar, 2012

By: Juli Anne Patty
Website: www.usawaterpolo.org

Years of experience
30+ years in water polo, one year at USA Water Polo

What is the mission of your organization?
The mission of USA Water Polo is to grow the sport of water polo throughout the United States and win medals in Olympic, World Championship, and Pan American Games.

Nationally, how many members do you have?
35,000

How many events are held each year?
Hundreds of local and zone/regional events, along with seven national championships.

In what regions/locations are they held?
USA Water Polo divides our membership into 11 zones, covering the entire United States. There are local and regional events at the age group, high school, and college level in each of these zones throughout the calendar year. Nationally sanctioned events take place in each zone or region, but the majority of our national championships take place in either northern or southern California.

As an organization, what do you look for in a location?
USA Water Polo events vary in their requirements. The most important thing is finding a facility that wants to work with USAWP to put on a premier event. We always strive to provide a positive experience for our athletes, coaches and fans. Infrastructure in the area plays a key role; are there enough hotels to accommodate the event, is the venue close to airports, etc. We also look for support from local sports commissions and CVBs, financial backing and “local knowledge,” which always translates into a better product for our participants.

From an event management standpoint, what is the most challenging aspect of your job?
Many of our national events require multiple pools in close proximity. These pools must be available 10 to 12 hours each day for the entire tournament, which can run between four to eight days. Staffing each site with experienced workers who understand the nuances of water polo can be challenging. I want every participant to leave national championships feeling like it was a excellent event that was well run and fun to be a part of.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
Without a doubt, it is watching athletes and coaches playing the game they love and enjoying themselves. Seeing elite athletes play the game is a treat, but I really love watching young kids having fun, learning important life lessons, and choosing to live a healthy lifestyle…all because of a pool, a little yellow ball and the desire to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Water polo is played by athletes ages 5 to 60+ and can be a lifelong experience filled with friends and fun.

What is your biggest challenge in organizing your organization’s events?
It is important for USA Water Polo to try to offer meaningful playing opportunities to all of our members, regardless of where they live. It can be challenging to find venues that meet the minimum specifications for holding a National Championship. The most difficult challenge is finding a location with enough pools to hold an event for all the athletes that want to participate.

Please describe how you feel your knowledge, skills, and experience have contributed to the success of the sports events in which you are involved.
I have had the privilege of being an athlete, coach, team administrator, referee, parent and fan over the span of 30-plus years. This gives me a unique insight into our membership. I understand the challenges a coach faces, the opportunities an athlete is looking for and the support our team administrators need. My focus is to foster communication between the national governing body and our clubs. We have a strong staff at USA Water Polo who wants to help our members get the most out of their water polo experience. Successful water polo events are the result of hard work, attention to detail and clear communication with our local organizers, coaches, club administrators, athletes and parents.

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