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BRIDGEPORT, Pa. — Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) Hall of Fame referee Paul Barren will be honored with the dedication of a plaque at the entrance of the Lower Moreland High School pool in Huntingdon Valley, Pa., on Saturday, March 25, at Noon.

Individuals unable to attend the ceremony, but wishing to send the Barren family a message and/or a picture from “back in the day” can submit the information via email to Patti Dix Kuhlman at patkuhlcrew@gmail.com.

A CWPA/Pennsylvania State Aquatics and United States Water Polo Hall of Fame inductee/athlete/coach/official, Barren passed away on June 6 following a life in which he was involved in the sport of water polo on every level.

“Paul Barren was always bigger than life, which is saying something given his physical size,” noted CWPA Commissioner Dan Sharadin at the time of Barren’s passing.

“He has had in incredible impact on the sport, especially in the East, where water polo was in its infancy during much of his life. Personally, I am indebted to him, since he was the one that convinced my high school swim coach to start a program. I never would have been involved in the sport were it not for his willingness to reach out to others. Later, I had the privilege of playing for him during his time as coach of the Philadelphia Aquatic Club, and afterwards as Commissioner, working with him as an administrator while he developed and mentored countless referees that served the colleges and high schools throughout the Northeast. Never one for pretense, always with a sense of humor, he was and still is a true icon of our sport and I consider it a tremendous blessing to have called him a friend.”

One of only two individuals inducted into the CWPA Hall of Fame for performance outside the realms of coaching and participatory competition – joining CWPA Assistant Commissioner Tom Tracey –  Barren became involved in water polo while attending college at West Chester University. While swimming competitively for the West Chester swim team, he began to learn to play water polo with the school’s club team during the 1960-61 season. After graduation, Barren played with the Philadelphia Water Polo Club, a team composed mostly of German and Hungarian ex-patriots. The level of play he encountered with the team piqued his interest in the sport and he began to pursue it with vigor.

While teaching math and serving as an assistant football coach at Lower Moreland High School in Huntington Valley, Pa. in the late 1960’s, Barren received permission from the school’s athletic department to start a water polo program. He coached the team for the next 20-years, taking his athletes on trips to Europe to compete in Germany (1973) and the Netherlands (1975) while compiling a record of 444-117-5 over 20 years.

“Like many people around the country, Paul helped get me involved in water polo as I was a swimmer,” stated retired Johns Hopkins University men’s water polo head coach Ted Bresnahan.  “His Lower Moreland team came down to Kentucky and played all the teams down there.  Later, I got to know him as an official and friend when I was coaching.”   

During his time at Lower Moreland, the school claimed nine Pennsylvania State Championships in 20-years, including eight consecutive crowns, and garnered five Eastern Scholastic Championships.  He guided his team to the 1976 AAU Junior National Indoor Championship and helped 40 Lower Moreland athletes claim high school All-America honors during his tenure on the bench.

Barren began officiating collegiate water polo games 1969 and continued until retiring in 1994 at the Olympic Festival in St. Louis.  Among his first officiating assignments were games in the newly formed Mid Atlantic Conference – the forerunner to today’s Collegiate Water Polo Association. He also officiated Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) games during the summer and earned national certification in 1973. As Barren’s stature in the officiating community grew, he was able to earn a FINA rating as an international referee in 1978.

Among his officiating assignments were;

  • 1972-93 Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Senior National Indoor Championships
  • 1973-93 AAU Senior National Outdoor Championships
  • 10 (1978, 1979, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994) United States Olympic Festivals
  • 1971-94 Eastern Collegiate Championships
  • National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Championships
  • 1978 Caribbean Games
  • 1978 and 1987 Pan American Games
  • Junior World Trials for Western Hemisphere in the early 1980’s
  • 1983 University Games (Edmonton)
  • 1991 World Master Games 1991

His mark in the game, however, extends to multiple levels from amateur to the highest ranks of FINA competition.

A member and coach at the Lower Moreland Water Polo club, the Wilmington (Del.) Aquatic Club and the Philadelphia Aquatic Club, Founded Eastern Water Polo Referees Association and served as Chairman of the Eastern Water Polo Referees Association.  The referees’ rating chairman and Mid-Atlantic Zone chairman in the 1970’s, he served as Mid-Atlantic Water Polo Chairman in the 1960’s and the regional chairman for USA Water Polo overseeing development of officials.  For his efforts, he was named the Volunteer of the Year by the Eastern Coaches Association and was inducted into the Perkiomen Prep Hall of Fame in 1983.

Away from the pool, Barren had a son (Dr. Eric Barren) and daughter (Verna) with wife Patricia.  A veteran of the United States Marine Corps (1959-62), he gave back to the community and earned his living by utilizing dual Masters Degrees from Temple University (Math Education) and Villanova University (Applied Mathematics) as a full-time Business and Math teacher at Lower Moreland High School and a part-time professor at Gwynedd Mercy College.

For his lifetime of contributions to the sport of water polo, Barren was elected to the USA Water Polo Hall of Fame in 1995 and was inducted at a ceremony in Seattle, Wash. in 1997.  He joined the CWPA Hall of Fame in 2004 and was previously inducted in the Pennsylvania State Aquatics Hall of Fame as both an athlete and a coach.