Underfunded and Under the Radar: Men's Water Polo

Club sports at BC are a widely popular outlet through which students play sports at a competitive level, build friendships and even oftentimes develop a family. And with such an athletically inclined and competitive student population, it’s no wonder that club sports are such a hit. These club teams have such a polished appearance that it’s quite easy to assume that it would be seamless to participate in and run them. However, there are some unseen difficulties.

Rather than talk about these difficulties abstractly, the best way to understand these difficulties would be by looking at a particular team. And when I reached out to inquire more information about a particular club team, the response was overwhelming. Bennett Cooper, the treasurer of the BC men’s water polo team, sent me such a comprehensive and passionate reply, there was no need for an editorial middleman.

Thus, the following is a fusion of my own commentary and quotes from Bennett Cooper, the treasurer of the BC men’s water polo team:

 

Though there are plenty of small problems for any given club team, the main issue is funding. None of these teams, after all, are Division I sports, so they are not eligible to receive the massive funds that other teams (like football, basketball and hockey) do.

“The BC Men's Water Polo team receives an allocation from the Club Sports Council over the summer, indicating how much funding we will be given from the school for the upcoming school year.

Photo by Alex Krowiak / Gavel Media.

Photo by Alex Krowiak / Gavel Media.

This allocation is formed through a presentation in May of the previous year performed by the Treasurer and/or other officers to the Council, stating the costs/expenses of that year and expected expenses of the upcoming year.

After the team presents and the Council comes up with a monetary amount, they deduct from this amount based on "Leader Board" points, which are awarded or (more frequently) deducted based on team performance in extra-athletic events.”

 

Compared to Division I teams, these teams receive paltry sums of money. Club teams most always collect dues from their members, carefully budget and scrape every dollar they can together to pay their inevitable expenses, the costliest of which is usually travel.

“I don't really want to disclose the actual monetary amount we receive, but I think you can understand that we and almost every single club team does not receive the full funding we need because of the Leader Board system.”

 

While most club teams struggle with funding, not all teams are equal.

“The main discrepancy in funding between teams is credited to three things: a) leader board, which I already discussed above b) endowments and alumni c) dues. Teams with more leader board points from staying on top of things get more money, and those teams tend to be bigger or more organized, which in turn is usually related to strong alumni and donations and easier collection of team dues.

The fact of the matter is that on average, the school grants each team the minimum of what they will need (for the most part), and other teams are much better at providing the additional cash to get them where they want to be financially.”

 

Making it through the regular season is enough of a challenge with funding. However, the postseason can be even more difficult.

“We are usually able to make ends meet, but because we spent almost everything in our account on the regular season we have little money remaining to pay for Nationals, a tournament we haven't qualified for in 9 years.

Our lack of endowment and small group of relatively young alumni (the team is only 11 years old) do not help us with funding at all, and thus it is entirely on our team to make up the difference within 2 weeks.”

“Teams apply for a secondary allocation from the school in the event of Nationals qualifications, however we have been told we will not receive full funding for what we asked to send less than half of our roster to Nationals. Also, we will not know how much funding we will receive at all until next Wednesday, so it is our responsibility to raise as much funding as possible until then.”

 

Photo by Alex Krowiak / Gavel Media.

Photo by Alex Krowiak / Gavel Media.

 

These teams, through their sheer love of the game, pull off amazing feats.

“Being a part of the Men's Water Polo team here at BC is easily the best decision I have made in my college career. This is a group of some of the most hard-working and dedicated guys at school who play the sport simply because they love to play.

We don't get lots of funding, we don't have an endowment, we don't have a real pool to train in, but we always make it work out in one way or another. Even though most students at BC have never seen a water polo game in their life, we have incredible support from students and friends and it truly means the world to us.

The team has undergone an incredible transformation in such a short period of time, too. The Water Polo team is relatively new, having become a club team after the Varsity team was cut approx. 11 years ago. My freshman year, the team was just getting back on its feet, recovering from suspension and finally getting its head on straight.

Sophomore year, we received $3,300 from the school for the entire season - a laughable amount, when you consider League Dues for Collegiate Water Polo were over 2/3 that amount - and yet we were still able to attend every tournament, fundraise our asses off, attend every practice and rent pool space, and still finish 2nd overall.”

 

These teams are doing amazing things, and we don’t even know about them.

“To win the New England Division, we went undefeated (11-0) and bested BU in the Finals to become Division Champions. Each Division Champion qualifies to attend Nationals, in a 16 team tournament over 3 days - Nov. 14, 15, 16. Last year, Dartmouth was the NE Champion and went on to finish 4th in the country, so we definitely won't settle for anything less.

We have a motto on the Water Polo Team - "Stay Handsome". It means a lot of things, but in some ways it reminds us to be the best representation of ourselves and our team that we can be, to keep on doing what we do, and to be proud of everything we have accomplished.

Photo by Alex Krowiak / Gavel Media.

Photo by Alex Krowiak / Gavel Media

The only real concern for us is funding. We are waiting to see how much the school will allot us in our secondary allocation, but in the meantime we need to raise as much as we can so we can book flights and hotel rooms. We are each putting in a lump sum to help start our fundraising, but we would greatly appreciate any help that we can get. Funding will go a long way in helping us not only achieve a goal that we have worked so hard for, but for making BC history with a group of guys who more than deserve it.”

Overall, the BC men’s water polo team epitomizes what it means to have heart. With incredibly limited resources, the team has managed to post a flawless record and is heading to Nationals. However, the team needs as much awareness as it can garner in order to spark funding. Anybody can donate online at https://www.bc.edu/giving/athletics/15club.html.

Follow @BCGavelSports on Twitter for the latest updates on Boston College athletics.

 

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Joe Castignetti