A League of Their Own: California Dreamin'
The Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference

Joan Gould
Water Polo Planet
Updated 5/1/2013

Water Polo Planet continues to take a closer look at some of the schools in each individual conference to help acquaint potential students and parents with these schools. This month some more smaller, less known yet equally impressive institutions in the SCIAC are discussed.  We would like to present a less intimidating, brief overview of schools with water polo programs to help provide the basis for students to start looking at what is available.

Get the Scoop On the SCIAC Troop

The Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference was formed in 1915 when five Southern California institutions combined for the purpose of promoting and governing competition in intercollegiate sports with the fundamental principle of the conference being to encourage the highest ideals of amateur sports in an environment of high academic standards.

While the mission of the conference has remained intact since the beginning, the membership has varied over the years, but now stands at eight (since 1991). The five original SCIAC schools are still members: California Institute of Technology, Occidental College, Pomona College, University of Redlands, and Whittier College. Occidental and Redlands are, however, the only ones to have uninterrupted membership.  They have since been joined by California Lutheran University, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges, and University of La Verne to comprise the current membership. (Pomona College now has become Pomona-Pitzer Colleges for athletics.)

For those of you unfamiliar with the SCIAC schools, indulge me in allowing a bit of name dropping; Monte Nitskowski and Ken Lindgren, Dante Demantie, Dennis Fosdick, Ted Newland..are all former coaches of Occidental College which established one of the nation’s first college water polo programs in 1926. Dr.Sammy Lee...who played water polo during his time at Oxy, before going on to become one of the Nations most decorated Olympic Athlete's in the sport of Diving.

Much like the MAAC conference, the schools in SCIAC offer athletes great coaching, small teams and classes and more individual help than the larger schools. It is important that students and parents do not discount the SCIAC schools merely because they may not offer athletic scholarships.

It is a common misconception that students cannot get scholarships outside athletics. With the exception of the major Big 10 and Ivys, colleges and universities are competing for students and student dollars as the post baby boom body count is diminishing. In many cases, schools sponsor athletics as a means to ATTRACT students not as a philosophical nod to the concept of the Greco-Roman ideal of the “student athlete”.

As the wife of an academician, I can assure you that the vast majority of colleges have a “posted” tuition and an “actual tuition, the difference being the amount that the college is able to discount to “buy” a student. The discount rate in most private schools aveerages 50% in 2013 so don't let posted tuitions scare you off. For the majority of athletes, the “athletic” scholarship offered is no more than and in most cases LESS than the “scholarship” that is offered a non athlete for academics.

With a play-in berth (with the WWPA) for the NCAA Championships, the SCIAC schools should be looked at carefully. For most students, application at a SCIAC school will show the value of the combination of superior education and larger scholarship dollars make it one of the best values around.

As I repeatedly tell students; the few hours it takes to apply to an alternate choice could easily make a difference in your future.

In a word, the SCIAC schools are worth a hard look.

Information Is the Right Tool for Choosing a School

Cal TechCalifornia Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California

The modern Caltech owes much of its character to the vision of its troika of founders: astronomer George Ellery Hale, physicist Robert Andrews Millikan, and chemist Arthur Amos Noyes (nicknamed by a campus wag “Tinker, Thinker, and Stinker”). Having come West from Chicago in 1903 to establish the Mount Wilson Observatory, Hale
joined Throop Polytechnic’s board in 1907. Hale envisioned transforming Throop into a first-class “college of technology and science,” and he worked tirelessly to realize his vision. His opening strategy was to recruit Noyes from MIT. The prospect of wintering in balmy Pasadena enticed Noyes to visit Throop’s campus, and a new chemistry building finally convinced him to stay. Hale and Noyes identified the school’s next pressing need: an eminent physicist. They agreed that Millikan, then at the University of Chicago, would be ideal. They had persuaded Millikan to join Throop’s faculty part time when World War I interrupted and Millikan was tapped to head up the
National Research Council. After Millikan relocated to Pasadena in 1921, he, Hale, and Noyes formed the first executive council, and set out to put the newly renamed California Institute of Technology on the map.

In August 1999, U.S. News & World Report named Caltech America’s #1 university for undergraduate education. However, as President David Baltimore says, “It’s more precise to call us unique.” Besides our quantifiable qualities—a freshman class with the highest average SAT scores in the nation; a three-to one student-to-professorial faculty ratio; and an average instructional budget of $192,000 per student, to name just three—the unquantifiable parts of Caltech’s culture contribute greatly to our uniqueness. Our Honor Code—“No member of the Caltech community shall take unfair advantage of any other member”—means, for instance, that collaboration on homework is encouraged, and that tests are never proctored. Caltech also offers undergraduates more research opportunities than there are students to take advantage of them. Arguably the most popular of those opportunities is SURF—the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships program, which just completed its 23rd season. SURF was designed to help students experience the process of research as a creative intellectual activity and to develop a realistic view of the rewards and demands of a professional research career. Nearly 3,000 students have participated in the program since 1979.

Caltech offers both men’s and women’s water polo

Cal Lutheran UniversityCal Lutheran University Thousand Oaks, California

California Lutheran University is located in sunny Thousand Oaks, California and is home to one of the newest, yet quickly up-and-coming programs in America. 

Home to the Kingsman (men) and Regals (women), CLU water polo has quickly climbed the national polls in the 4 short years they have been in existence.  The men recently finished their season ranked in the top 5 nationally and 3rd in the D-III power conference SCIAC. 

The Women's team is currently ranked 3rd nationally and is looking to compete in perhaps their first national championships.  CLU is a small liberal arts private university (2,000 undergrads) that just opened a brand new 52 meter all deep competition pool along side a 96,000 square foot Sports and Fitness Center compete with state-of-the-art weight room, athletic training room, and exercise and fitness labs.  In only three and a half years, the school has already had 3 All-Americans including Scott Bredesen who has been named to the D-III All-America team 3 times in his 3 year career.  Also named to the team are Nicole Pecel for the women and Matt Heagy for the men. 

CLU offers great scholarship opportunities to those student-athletes who have proved themselves in the classroom.

Claremont-Mudd-ScrippsClaremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges, Claremont, California

The Claremont Colleges is a consortium of five undergraduate colleges and two graduate institutions and a central organization that provides services shared by all students, faculty, and staff. The eight institutions support and strengthen each other to become more than the sum of their parts and all but one are located on adjacent campuses. The Colleges are nationally and internationally renowned for academic excellence. Students at The Claremont Colleges enjoy the individualized academic attention of a small college and the resources of a major university. The Colleges not only share a library system, athletic facilities, and extra-curricular activities, but also offer joint academic programs and cross-registration in courses. Currently the consortium has over 6000 students and a combined faculty and staff of over 3,300 members. More than 2500 courses are available to students in Claremont.

The Princeton Review ranked Scripps College among the "Top 10 Best Value Private Colleges" and included the College in its 2008 edition of America's Best Value Colleges. The college guide profiles 165 colleges chosen for their excellent academics, generous financial aid packages, and/or relatively low costs of attendance. The guide's three-page profile on Scripps College highlights the College's commitment "to assisting students and their families in accessing a premiere private liberal arts education."

Founded in 1926 by newspaper publisher and philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps, Scripps College is the women’s college of The Claremont Colleges. The mission of Scripps College is to educate women to develop their intellect and talents through active participation in a community of scholars, so that as graduates they may contribute to society through public and private lives of leadership, service, integrity, and creativity.

Harvey Mudd College (HMC), the nation's top liberal arts college of engineering, science and mathematics was chartered in December 1955. Two years later, in 1957, when the space race made technical education a priority in the United States, it opened its doors. The founders' vision—to attract the nation's brightest students and offer them a rigorous scientific and technological education coupled with a strong curricular emphasis in the humanities and social sciences—has been successfully realized and expanded upon. In 1963, the college initiated the nationally recognized Clinic Program, which allows student teams to solve problems posed by sponsoring industry, government and nonprofit organizations. The emphasis on undergraduate research for all students has led to HMC graduates earning Ph.D. degrees in science and engineering at one of the highest rates in the nation.

Small by choice, with 700 students and 80 faculty, HMC enjoys an excellent reputation, which has made the college one of the most selective in the country. Our students' educational experience provides them with the capacity to master the tough interdisciplinary problems they will encounter in science and industry. Harvey Mudd College graduates are scientists, engineers, astronauts and ambassadors, as well as teachers, artists and entrepreneurs. The impact our graduates have on an increasingly technological world is what drives HMC to continue evolving and innovating. With continued support from people who care about the education of the nation's future leaders, Harvey Mudd College looks forward to many more years of providing top-notch undergraduate engineering, science and mathematics education.

Claremont began competing in the SCIAC in 1947-48 when Pomona College and Claremont Men’s College combined to form one athletic team (Pomona had been competing by themselves since the SCIAC’s inception in 1915). Pomona - Claremont competed in the SCIAC for 11 years until 1957-58. During that time the team won 25 SCIAC titles. In 1958-59 Claremont Men’s College combined with Harvey Mudd College and began competition as Claremont-Mudd. The team was ineligible for SCIAC championships until 1959-60. The team continued as this entity until the SCIAC began sponsoring women’s sports in 1976-77 at which time it became Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (Claremont Men's College became Claremont McKenna College in 1981). The men’s program has won 151 SCIAC titles since its inception. This is more than any other SCIAC school during this same period by 36. The women’s program has won 63 SCIAC titles which is the second most among SCIAC schools. Claremont-Mudd-Scripps is the only team in the SCIAC which has won a conference title in each sport and they have won all 19 sports at least twice. Each of the men's teams has repeated as SCIAC champion at least once and have each won at least four titles. Seven of the women's teams have repeated as SCIAC champion.

Occidental CollegeOccidental College  Los Angeles, California

Occidental is a small, highly selective residential liberal arts college with a beautiful park-like campus in one of the most vibrant and diverse cities in the world. Not many nationally ranked liberal arts colleges can make this claim. The learning opportunities available to the Occidental student in a city like Los Angeles are endless. Internships, community service, cultural events and a host of other enriching opportunities make an Occidental education distinctive and exceptional. More than a quarter of the Occidental student body participates in 18 intercollegiate sports.

The word Occidental is the opposite of Oriental, or meaning 'of the West.'  In the early 1880's the college, , was initially a satellite campus of Princeton University and was referred to as the "Princeton of the West", hence when the college was established the term 'Of the West' was used to give the college it's title of Occidental.
Located in a suburb of Los Angeles, and near some of Hollywood's largest production studios, the college is often utilized as a location for numerous movies and television shows.  It is not uncommon during holidays or summer months to see celebrities milling about the campus during production shoots.  Actor Ben Affleck was actually a student at Occidental when he co-wrote the script for movie Good Will Hunting with Matt Damon.
Current United States Presidential candidate Barrak Obama was also a student at Occidental College for two years before transferring to Columbia University.  US Senator Jack Kemp is also an Oxy graduate.

The 2012-13 Water Polo season saw continued success under the guidance of head coach Larry Zubrin.  The women reached the championship game of the Collegiate III National Championships for the fourth time in the last nine seasons.  For the second consecutive year Oxy finished ranked in the top 3 nationally.

"Last season was another step in the right direction for our program."  said Zubrin, "We've established ourselves as one of the premier teams in the NCAA and look forward to carrying on that tradition for years to come."

Of particular interest to the water polo community, Occidentals head coach; Larry Zubrin has been instrumental in bringing high tech to the world of Water Polo with the NCAA’s FIRST Water Polo video website featuring full games and player interviews. http://www.waterpolonetwork.com/oxypolo/womens/

Home for the Tigers is the open-air Taylor Swimming Pool in the E.S. Field Memorial Building on the Occidental campus.  Plans are currently underway for a new state of the art, Olympic size aquatics facility.

Occidental offers both men’s and women’s varsity water polo.

Pomona Pitzer CollegesPomona Pitzer Colleges, Claremont, California

Small classes, top-notch facilities and distinguished professors who work closely with students are key elements of a Pomona education. Established in 1887, Pomona College is widely regarded as one of the premier liberal arts colleges in America.

The college is located in Claremont, California, a charming town 35 miles east of Los Angeles. Pomona is the founding member of The Claremont Colleges, a consortium of seven independent institutions blending the intimate atmosphere of small colleges with the academic and social resources of a university. Famous beaches, ski resorts and Los Angeles' many cultural offerings all are within easy driving distance of the campus. Pomona-Pitzer athletes have a long tradition of excellence, both on the field and in the classroom. The athletic program remains true to the Division III philosophy that college athletes must be students first.

The program dates back more than a century, with a rich history that includes the oldest football rivalry in Southern California. Pomona helped introduce women's basketball competition to Southern California colleges in 1909. Pomona played in the inaugural football game at the Los Angeles Coliseum in 1923. Neighboring Pitzer College joined forces with Pomona to form Pomona-Pitzer athletics in 1970.

The Pomona-Pitzer Women’s Water Polo team has established itself as one of the nation’s premier NCAA DIII programs.  In 2005 the Sagehens captured the Division III National Championship, having also won it in 1992 and 1993 and 2003. In 2004, the water polo team won their first SCIAC conference championship and finished second in the country. The Sagehens are consistently ranked in the top 5 nationally among Division III schools and play a competitive non-conference schedule. Pomona-Pitzer offers both men’s and women’s water polo. Pomona won the 2007 NCAA bid from SCIAC and competed very well against the top 10 schools from East and West

The team trains at Haldeman pool, a beautiful 50 meter Olympic size facility.  The season starts January 15th and goes until the Division III championships, usually the first weekend in May. The Sagehens play 25-30 games a year against teams from Division I, II, and III institutions.  The women’s water polo team has had its share of elite athletes come through the program.  Amber Drury ’95, current National Junior team coach and former National team member led the Sagehens to their first 2 national titles in ’92 and ’93.  Joy Haviland ’03 is the all-time leading career scorer with 219 goals.  During her four years, she was a 4-time 1st Team All-SCIAC member, 4-time All-American, 2002 SCIAC Player of the year, the 2003 Division III Player of the Year, and 2003 Pomona-Pitzer Female Athlete of the Year.  Lucia Schmit ’03 is third on the all time scoring list with 180 goals.  Lucia is a 3-time 1st Team All-SCIAC member, 3 time All-American, and 2 time Pomona-Pitzer Athletic Excellence award winner for excelling in 2 sports (swimming). 

University of La VerneUniversity of La Verne La Verne, California

The University of La Verne is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), and is approved by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing for offering credentials in several areas.

The College of Arts and Sciences is eighteen departments that offer a total of 41 different B.A. and B.S. degrees and 14 minors or certificate programs. There are graduate programs in Psychology including master's degrees in Counseling and in Marriage and Family Therapy and an American Psychological Association approved Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) degree in Community/Clinical Psychology.

The College of Business and Public Management takes pride in offering programs for students wishing to pursue their undergraduate or graduate business degree full-time or for working professionals interested in a convenient, part-time degree program. The School offers graduate programs, certificates and credentials in a broad range of fields including: Reading, School Counseling, Special Education and Educational Management as well as bachelors and master programs in Child Development and M.S. in the area of Child Life Specialist. The Ed.D in Organizational Leadership is one of the largest and most successful programs of its type in the entire Country.

The College of Law, established in 1970, adheres to the ideals and vision of the University of La Verne and is recognized as a progressive school, integrating time-honored methods in teaching the law with the most advanced technology available. .

University of RedlandsUniversity of Redlands Redlands, California

University of Redlands is a private liberal arts and sciences university, consistently ranked among the best universities in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Since its founding in 1907, the university has been committed to a mission that emphasizes academic rigor, personal development and interdisciplinary studies. In the residential College of Arts and Sciences, 2,400 graduate and undergraduate students pursue innovative liberal arts and sciences programs and practical pre-professional paths. Our undergraduate students are diverse, free-thinking, adventurous – and among the happiest surveyed. Faculty members are committed to teaching and mentoring, both inside and outside of the classroom.

In the School of Business and the School of Education, 2,000 students benefit from credential, graduate and undergraduate programs designed specifically for adult learners. Innovative and relevant graduate courses are taught by experienced teacher-scholars and practitioners, and conveniently scheduled for working professionals. Classes are held on the Redlands campus and at several regional campuses throughout Southern California.

Since its varsity inception in 1994, Redlands has established itself as the premier Division III women's water polo program in the nation by winning eight Collegiate III National Championships (1995-1999, 2002, 2004, 2006), and nine SCIAC titles (1994, 1995, 1996, 1998 2000-2003, 2005). Redlands also represented Division III at the 2005 and 2007 NCAA Championships, in which the newly-expanded bracket welcomed the SCIAC Champion for the first time as the sole DIII participant.

Whittier CollegeWhittier College Whittier, California

Whittier College is a four-year independent residential liberal arts college distinguished by its small size, nationally recognized liberal arts curriculum, and innovative interdisciplinary programs.

Within the Whittier campus and School of Education, the nationally recognized Broadoaks laboratory/demonstration school provides educational and childcare services to 250 children in preschool through the sixth grade, and gives students and faculty a rich variety of opportunities for studying children, family relationships and developmentally appropriate approaches to education. Broadoaks was founded in Pasadena, Calif., in 1906 and became affiliated with Whittier College in 1931. The school was moved to its present site in 1945.

The Shannon Center also houses technical support areas and academic facilities for the Department of Theatre Arts. Among the artists who have graced the stage are Oscar-winning composer Henry Mancini, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Horton Foote, and the Grammy-award Winning group Los Lobos.

Whittier College offers both Men’s and Women’s Water Polo.

There Will Be More to Explore

Each month, I will look at the schools in each conference and present a brief overview of each conference’ school. The July feature will be the schools of the CWPA and I encourage each coach to submit an overview of their school to joan@waterpoloplanet.com