History of the Collegiate Water Polo Association
The Collegiate Water Polo
Association originally began as the Mid Atlantic Conference,
founded by Dick Russell (Bucknell University swimming & water
polo coach) in the 1970’s. Its founding membership included
teams from Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York.
The leadership and management of the organization relied on volunteer coaches until 1990, when it hired a commissioner to perform basic scheduling for the 15 member teams. Officiating assignments at the time were performed by an independent organization called the Eastern Water Polo Referees Association.
The next major milepost occurred in 1993, when the Southern and New England Conferences merged into the Mid Atlantic. The new structure combined all of the varsity teams in the East, along with the few sport clubs in existence at that time.
During the 1995 season, the conference received its first major challenge, as the organization experienced a strike by its officiating corps. This strike ultimately resulted in the organization establishing its own officiating bureau, assuming responsibility for all of its officiating assignments. The conference hired Tere Ma as its inaugural Director of Officials and Loren Bertocci as its first Technical Director. These two individuals laid the groundwork for the Officiating Bureau that exists today.
Today the CWPA is the largest water polo conference in the country with teams in 75% of the states nationwide. Including both intercollegiate varsity competition and club competition, it stands as the only conference of this type. Due to its breadth and influence, the conference plays a pivotal role in the sport of water polo today, which will only increase in the future as it continues to grow.