There are very few women’s water polo programs with as much consistent success as the United States has exhibited over the last 10 years. As the only nation to medal in all three Olympics featuring women’s water polo, the U.S. lays claim to three FINA World Championships – a feat no other nation has accomplished. In the midst of yet another white-hot run that has seen gold medals at the 2009 FINA World Championships; 2010 FINA World Cup; and 2009, 2010, and 2011 FINA World League Super Finals, Team USA marches towards London with one singular goal in mind: gold.
A gold medal is the only thing that has escaped the women’s team, as the squad earned silver in Beijing with a heartbreaking loss to the Netherlands. While the success has remained the same, the faces have not. Longtime Head Coach Guy Baker stepped down and was replaced by veteran University of California, Los Angeles Coach Adam Krikorian in early 2009. Krikorian has picked up right where Baker left off in guiding the team to championship success. Joining Krikorian on his staff is 2004 Olympian Dan Klatt and a holdover from the Baker regime, two-time Olympian and recent USA Water Polo Hall of Fame inductee Heather Moody.
Stalwarts and three-time Olympians Brenda Villa and Heather Petri remain in the fold, while 2004 Olympian Kelly Rulon has returned to the national-team scene. 2010 FINA Female Water Polo Player of the Year, Betsey Armstrong, remains a key to the defense in goal, while utility Lauren Wenger and powerful center Kami Craig are some of the best on earth at their respective positions. Defender Jessica Steffens returns in 2011 after missing all of 2010 following shoulder surgery and is an integral part of the USA’s highly touted defensive machine.
- Three Weddings and an Olympics: Three members of the USA Women’s National Team are engaged to be married in the coming year. Elsie Windes, Lauren Wenger and Courtney Mathewson are all engaged and scheduled to be married before or shortly after the Olympic Games.
- Sister, Sister: The USA Women’s Team has two sisters battling for spots in London. 2008 Olympian Jessica Steffens is joined on the roster by younger sister Maggie Steffens in 2011.
- Annika Dries Thinks Pink: From Laguna Beach, Calif., Dries is a college student at Stanford University, where she is an advocate for breast cancer awareness. With a mother who is a survivor, Dries started ‘think pink days’ with her sorority at Stanford. She plays the center position and was named MVP of the 2011 NCAA championships, in which Stanford won the title.
- Both of three-time Olympian Brenda Villa’s parents are from Mexico, with her mother being from the State of Mexico, where the 2011 Pan American Games will be held this October.
- Aloha, Tumua: Tumua Anae is vying to be a member of the 2012 Olympic Team. The former champion goalkeeper at University of Southern Californai would keep up a long tradition of Hawaiian goalkeepers playing for the United States. Five of the last six Olympics have had a Hawaiian goalkeeper representing the United States.
- Brenda Villa: Three-time Olympian (2000, 2004, 2008) – Commerce, Calif.
- Heather Petri: Three-time Olympian (2000, 2004, 2008) – Orinda, Calif.
- Kelly Rulon: Olympian (2004) – San Diego, Calif.
- Kami Craig: Olympian (2008) – Santa Barbara, Calif.
- Betsey Armstrong: Olympian (2008) – Ann Arbor, Mich.
- Lauren Wenger: Olympian (2008) – Long Beach, Calif.
- Jessica Steffens: Olympian (2008) – Danville, Calif.
The U.S. can qualify by winning the 2011 Pan American Games or by competing in the 2012 Olympic Qualification Tournament. There are no trials, and the team roster is selected by the coaching staff through evaluation.
- July 16-21, 2011: 2011 FINA World Championships –Shanghai, China
- Oct. 13-29, 2011: 2011 Pan American Games – Guadalajara, Mexico
- January 2012: 2012 Pan Pacific Tournament – Australia
- TBD: 2012 FINA World League Super Final – TBD
- TBD: 2012 Exhibition Series – TBD