Team Name: San Antonio Water Polo Club “ShellBacks”
Location: San Antonio, TX
Head Coach Name: Bill Freeman
Team size: 15
Age group: 18U
San Antonio Water Polo Club (SAWPC) “Shellbacks”
1. When and why was your team founded?
The Shellbacks were founded in the Fall of 2018. A few of the team members belonged to another water polo club in the outskirts of San Antonio that was not looking out for their best interests and was solely focused on generating revenue. Many of the team members and their parents quickly identified this and decided not to return after attending the Junior Olympic National Championships in 2018 although they were awarded Silver Medals. In an attempt to keep a small set of the boys together as a team, two of the fathers from the previous group identified a local facility and Water Polo Club that at the time was focused solely on Men’s Open Division Water Polo and have now created what is now known as the ShellBacks. The two fathers were able to broker a deal with the San Antonio Water Polo Club leadership to rent pool time and hire a skilled coach to help these young men develop and hone their skills. Coach Bill Freeman was the “diamond in the rough’ needed for this team and he has transitioned this group of Water Polo playing boys into Water Polo playing men.
2. What makes your team special?
Our team is comprised of players from 4+ High Schools. The SAWPC Shellback 18U team ages range from 14-17. This group hasn’t been together for countless seasons like many other teams they face in the Texas Tournaments. This diverse group of young men have successfully taken on fully developed and home grown 18U teams that have been together season after season with no hesitation. The shellbacks recently solidified their spot in the 2019 Junior Olympic National Championships in Houston, TX Junior Olympic Qualifiers.
3. What was the inspiration for your team’s gear?
Well Bosko Dimic and his design team at Ryte Sport were instrumental with the design ideas. The Shellback or Sons of Neptune is known as a symbol of a veteran sailor who has been initiated by crossing the equator however, we wanted to pay tribute to the “raucous and rowdy” who crossed the line from the previous team. Since water polo is aquatic in nature and with this diverse group of young men ready to battle any team that stands in their way, we wanted to represent something that is deep in tradition as well as American nautical folklore origins such as Davy Jones Locker, King Neptune, creatures of the deep, etc..
4. Greatest moment or achievement so far as a team? The SAWPC Shellbacks are the sole San Antonio, TX Water Polo team and club. They are generating visibility of Water Polo here in South Texas. The Shellbacks qualified for the 2019 Junior Olympic National Championships to be held in Southern California.
5. Any athletes that went on to swim or play collegiately or overseas?
Not yet, but this is year 1. Many players aspire to play in the Colleges located throughout California, the Naval Academy and Coast Guard.
6. What would your athletes say is the best part about being apart of your team?
Playing Water Polo of course. We also have a real Coach that developed and led many of the top tier Water Polo teams out in California. The players say, Although he’s tough, he’s fair and has taken our team to the next level. We’re not just another Texas Water Polo Team. We’re a classy team that fully exhibits the highest level of Sportsmanship win, lose or draw. It’s hard to find that these days and we take pride in our ability to represent San Antonio and do it well.
7. What meet or tournament does your team look forward to each year?
Junior Olympic National Championships. In the player’s previous Water Polo club there was about a 3 month work up to prepare for the Junior Olympic Qualifiers and subsequent JO National Championships. We now commence each Fall with the expectation, hard work and dedication to make it to JO’s!
8. Any big plans for the future of your team?
With the attention the Shellbacks are getting, the desire is to now work on competing at the National level year round. Assisting with the growth of the club is also important and on the horizon. The Shellbacks love giving back to training opportunities such as clinics for younger players taking interest in aquatics and providing visibility into the wonderful world of Water Polo.
9. RYTE Sport product review from Bill Freeman:
When looking to establish uniformity for our newly developed team we looked all over for a custom swimwear shop locally only to come up empty handed. We looked to USA Water Polo who recommended their sponsors, RYTE Sport. My initial feeling was, this could get very expensive and cumbersome working with an Organization that isn't local. This can prove to be extremely difficult to get the desired designs just right. Bosko and his team at RYTE Sport have truly changed my thought process on customer service and execution for custom swimwear and team apparel. Their design team was very responsive, developed exactly what we wanted and the quality of every product has been second to none. We had a couple of players that even ordered the wrong size custom made speedos and RYTE Sport cut a return shipping label and shipped out replacements without hesitation. Their service and quality is second to none. Team RYTE Sport’s personnel are true professionals and I’d highly recommend them to any club swim or water polo team.