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Archive for July 28, 2017

BULLETIN: July 28, 2017 — Another American women’s team on top of the world

Today, an American women’s national team, playing a regional sport without a domestic professional league, relying in part on talent identified in high school, won a recognized world championship.

The U.S. women’s water polo team today won its fifth FINA World Championship with a 13-6 win over Spain. The United States team, with the win, now holds a unique quintet of trophies: Pan American Games, Olympic Games, World Cup, World League, and today’s World Championships.

A big call has to go to the U.S. water polo selectors and head coach Adam Krikorian. Instead of standing pat with his Olympic lineup, the current U.S. team was the youngest in the entire tournament.

A number of team members actually left their high schools in order to train full-time with the national team. This included Madeline Musselman, whose father Bill went to Harvard before a five-year career in Major League Baseball.

But this team was such a poised bunch under pressure. They used space and strength in equal measure, choosing smart shooting as well as some unconventional finishing in the 2-meter area. In the final, the States’ touchstone goal had to have been the alley-oop pass from Maggie Steffens to the opposite post where Kiley Neushul rose out of the water like a fresh salmon to dunk the ball into the cage.

What’s truly amazing about the States’ current run of form is that the sport’s development in the United States is based upon less than a thousand girls’ varsity programs at U.S. high schools, concentrated mostly in California.

Yet, through good coaching, the Americans are now a dynasty. And this young team can carry through the next Olympic cycle as it matures, something which should scare other water-polo nations to death.

July 28, 2017 — A superprep gets its foundation

With enormous facilities, plenty of backing from a major athletic wear company, and a stellar reputation for developing young athletes in endeavors from tennis to football, Bradenton IMG Academy (Fla.) could have hand-picked a U.S. national team member or a collegiate coach to start its first girls’ varsity program.

Instead, the management has settled on a proven builder. Over the last two decades, Kim Russell has launched high-school teams, club programs, and even the Division III program at Baldwin-Wallace.

“For the last two decades, I have been able to live my passion by helping student-athletes develop, and reach their full potential on and off the field,” Russell said in a news release. “It’s an incredibly rewarding challenge to launch a new program and with amazing resources, facilities and foundation for lacrosse at IMG, we will hit the ground running.”

The task for Russell, however, is not limited to the 20 to 25 players who will play varsity under the Florida High School Athletic Association umbrella. That’s because IMG is a “super prep,” one which receives visiting teams as well as students from all over the country.

The girls’ lacrosse program will be no different; the incoming players will go right into non-scholastic tournaments and college recruiting showcases before beginning varsity play in February.

It’s a daunting task, but Russell will have the responsibility for bringing this potential giant to life.