Strong Performances by Local Youth Exceed Expectations

Capital Water Polo, a Washington DC, Maryland and Northern Virginia-area club, qualified an unprecedented five youth teams for USA Water Polo’s 2016 National Junior Olympics (NJO’s) held in Northern California.

14U girls team placed 22nd nationally. Photo by Don Knieriem.
14U girls team placed 22nd nationally. Photo by Don Knieriem.

Over 50 local athletes from 10 to 18 represented Capital Water Polo in the premier annual competition hosted by USA Water Polo. Capital Water Polo’s 12 and under (12U), 14 and under (14U), 16 and under (16U) and 18 and under (18U) boys teams participated in the first session of the tournament, which began July 22, 2016, while the team’s 14 and under (14U) girls team participated in the second meet which started July 27, 2016.

Capital Water Polo's 14U boys take aim. Photo by Don Knieriem.
Capital Water Polo’s 14U boys take aim. Photo by Don Knieriem.

Each session involved four days of 2 to 3 high-level water polo matches per day, against the nation’s top youth water polo clubs. “As a young club that is only five years old, this level of participation at such a prestigious national tournament exceeds all expectations,” said Jon Sabado, the Capital Water Polo’s board president and parent of an 18U participant.

Capital Water Polo’s “Narwhals” are led by Head Coach Leslie Entwistle, a four-time member of the USA women’s national water polo team. She returned to NJOs for a fifth year as the program leader with a record number of participants. She is especially proud of the players’ combined efforts against nationally-ranked club teams throughout the tournament.

The 14U girls’ team and the 12U boys’ team each placed in the top 25 nationally with 22nd and 24th place finishes respectively. The 18U boys’ team, in their 5th consecutive appearance at the tournament, placed in the top 50 at 44th place. The 16U and 14U boys’ teams placed in the top 100 with 76th and 79th place respectively.

“I am incredibly proud of all our athletes for their dedication during the tough ten months of training leading up to this championship tournament, as well as for their formidable play against the top teams in the nation. Many of our competitors’ programs have been ranked nationally for over 20 years. We demonstrated that our coaches’ commitment to effectively develop all our athletes was successful at the highest level,” said Coach Enwistle.

“Every athlete exhibited impressive mental toughness and advanced game skills-evidence that Capital Water Polo will continue to be a national contender.”

Capital Water Polo represented the Northeast Zone (NEZ) — which extends from Maine to Virginia–in a West Coast-dominated tournament. The Narwhals earned accolades from their competitors, many of whom play at a very high level year-round, for their hard-fought wins and close losses at the NJO’s.

“The California teams and coaches we encountered were surprised that we could match-up with them for most, if not all, of the four quarters of play. We fought very hard in every game, at every age, and definitely made an impression against our West Coast competition,” said Coach Enwistle.

The Narwhals are led by 4-time national women's team member Leslie Enwistle, far right.. Photo by Don Kniereim.
The Narwhals are led by 4-time national women’s team member Leslie Enwistle, far left. Photo by Don Kniereim.

Capital Water Polo, based in Arlington, Virginia, is a not-for-profit organization established in 2011 to bring water polo to the national capital area. Capital Water Polo’s mission is to be a nationally recognized water polo program that provides quality athletic training and positive leadership skills to youth in the greater Washington DC metro area — inspiring youth to become future leaders through the sport of water polo.

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