Water Polo has been played at a collegiate level since at least the 1890s, but has only recently seen widespread popularity. As the sport becomes more popular, it presents a great opportunity for a university sports scholarship. But how do you win a university water polo scholarship? In this post, we've put together some great ways for you to get started on your scholarship journey.
WAs there are no professional water polo tournaments in the USA, the NCAA’s tournament is the highest level of competition played annually in America. There are currently 110 men’s and women’s water polo teams in the NCAA, and all of them – whether they are from Division I, II, or III – are eligible to compete in the NCAA National Championship. This means that you could be in line for national glory no matter where you play water polo!
College Water Polo Scholarships
Universities that play water polo traditionally have high academic standards. Therefore, players will need to be excellent in the pool and in the classroom to secure a water polo scholarship. As with any other sport in the NCAA, scholarships are only available at Division I and Division II levels. Between the two divisions, the NCAA is able to fund 4 full scholarships on the men’s side and 8 full scholarships on the women’s side. Division III programs do not offer scholarships for sports, but will reward top academic performers with merit scholarships.
What about the NAIA and NJCAA?
With Water Polo still a small sport, some schools in the NAIA only recently added the sport to their athletic programs. However, because water polo tournaments in the US are few and far between, these NAIA colleges will still compete in the NCAA’s annual championship.
Student-athletes looking to go the junior/community college route will also be able to play water polo but ONLY in the state of California. The California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) currently has 41 women’s teams and 31 men’s teams. Sadly, these teams have no scholarship funding for international students.
If you want to give yourself the best chance of getting a water polo scholarship, we suggest playing for a club in addition to your school team. The competition for a roster spot, especially at prestigious academic institutions, is intense. Coaches will always prefer to take on players with lots of experience in the pool. Let's look at some tips on how you can win a university water polo scholarship.
Tips to improve your chances of getting a Water Polo Scholarship
- Focus on academics
- Your high school marks are crucial to the scholarship process. Water polo colleges generally have high academic standards. Thus, the higher your GPA and SAT score, the better your chances are of getting accepted into your dream university and obtaining a substantial scholarship.
- Video Footage
- Your video footage is just as important as the academics. As coaches in the US won’t be able to travel to watch you play in person, your footage becomes your marketing material. The most important aspects of a video that you can focus on are the following:
- Swimming ability
- Goal scoring & Goal assistance
- Penalty taking
- Ball stealing
- Play Club Water Polo
- Playing for the first team in your school is an amazing achievement! However, it might not be enough. Playing for a club will always provide the opportunity for some additional experience in the pool. Club water polo is also a much more competitive environment. It will be crucial in developing your abilities to a “college-ready" level.
- Be mindful of your presence on social media
- We are living in the 21st century where most students have a big presence on social media. You can also use social media as a platform to promote your sporting abilities. Coaches are adapting more and more to the idea of searching for recruits on these social media platforms. It is extremely important to pay attention to what coaches - or anyone - can find when they Google your name.
- Train under a formal coach
- Whether it is your high school coach or your club coach, they are the experts! They are also your best chances of improving your abilities in the pool. Coaches can always give great recommendations as well.
Boati Motau… From South Africa, to Tokyo, to the USA!
Boati Motau, Aspire Atlantic alumna and Roedean School graduate, has had a great water polo career so far. She has the most inspiring story - and we can assure you it’s not over for her yet. She is just getting started!
Boati has made some great impressions from an early stage. She began playing for Roedean’s 1st Water Polo team in her Grade 9 year, and has not looked back . She captained her high school team in 2019 and 2020, and made 12 “All-Star Tournament Teams” in just 4 years. Boati has also represented Gauteng Province since Grade 8 - captaining the U/15A side in 2017 during the annual IPTs in Port Elizabeth where her team won Silver. She captained the U/16A team at IPTs in East London the following year, and the team was crowned champions! She is a talented player and an incredible leader.
In 2018, Boati’s Grade 10 year, all her hard work finally paid off. She represented the South African U/16A Girls National Water Polo Team and travelled to Auckland, New Zealand. The team placed 4th in both the U/16 and U/18 festival - an incredible achievement for such youngsters! Her success continued and the coaches simply could not select a team without Boati in it. She represented South Africa’s U/17 Team as well as the Senior Ladies Team in the Czech Republic (2019) where the teams placed 2nd and 4th respectively. Later that year, she was selected for the U/20 Ladies SA Team which toured Portugal.
To end off her high school career, she represented her country one last time in the U/18 side, when she played for the National team in Harare at the World Championship Qualifiers. All of these incredible achievements put her on the path to winning a water polo scholarship to a university in the USA.
Taking the Next Step
Receiving sports honours at Roedean, playing in national and international tournaments all over the globe and having all this talent was certainly worth it for Boati Motau. With some prestigious universities offering Boati scholarships she could not resist, she had her heart set on Bucknell University and committed to the Bisons for the Fall of 2021.
The highlight of Boati’s career happened just a month before she left for the USA to start her studies. In June, the South African Ladies Olympic Water Polo team selected Boati for the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games. Aspire Atlantic will be cheering her on every step of the way! This is every athlete's dream come true, and we are so extremely proud of Boati. Her dedication and hard work has led to her earning this once in a lifetime opportunity, and she thoroughly deserves it!
Who knows? You might be the next Water Polo Olympian!
Remember, it’s always the perfect time to begin your journey towards studying at the university of your dreams. Sign up here for a free consultation with one of our recruitment experts. You could join over 300 student-athletes already placed in the USA, competing at the highest level and earning a world-class degree!