Want to Become a member?Join/Renew Now!

BRIDGEPORT, Pa. — The Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) Men’s Collegiate Club Spotlight turns to the breadbasket of the United States as the league takes notice of the entirely Division III Heartland Division of  Augustana College, Carleton College, Grinnell College, Knox College, Macalester College, Saint John’s University, Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota and St. Olaf College.

HISTORY:  Competing in the CWPA since 1999, the Heartland Division has seen six teams advance to the group’s title game over the past 21 seasons.

Grinnell is the most successful of the group with eight titles (2001, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019) and nine runner-up finishes (1999, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2017) as the Wild Turkeys have appeared in 17 of 21 Heartland Division championship games since 1999.

Macalester has made 11 title tilts with four wins (1999, 2000, 2005, 2006) and seven second place finishes (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019).  Saint Mary’s holds two wins (2002, 2003) and a pair of runner-up marks (2000, 2001), while Augustana picked up victories in 2014 and 2017.  Saint John’s placed also made the title tilt with second place finishes in 2004, 2005 and 2007.

Former division member and current varsity program Monmouth College concluded its tenure as a collegiate club team with five consecutive division crowns as the Fighting Scots (then known as the Crab People) racked up the 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 championships.

On the national stage, Heartland Division teams have registered a trio of runner-up finishes and one crown at the Men’s Division III Collegiate Club Championship.  Grinnell placed second to Lindenwood University in 2007, prior to Monmouth notching back-to-back runner-up achievements in 2009 (vs. Tufts Universty) and 2010 (vs. the University of California-Santa Cruz).  In 2012, the Fighting Scots broke through to claim the Heartland Division’s first Division III National Club Championship in the final club game in the history of the Monmouth program.

Heartland Division Champion/Runner-Up

  • 1999 – Macalester College / Grinnell College
  • 2000 – Macalester College / St. Mary’s University (Minn.)
  • 2001 – Grinnell College / St. Mary’s University (Minn.)
  • 2002 – St. Mary’s University (Minn.) / Grinnell College
  • 2003 – St. Mary’s University (Minn.) / Grinnell College
  • 2004 – Grinnell College / St. John’s University (Minn.)
  • 2005 – Macalester College / St. John’s University (Minn.)
  • 2006 – Macalester College / Grinnell College
  • 2007 – Grinnell College / St. John’s University (Minn.)
  • 2008 – Monmouth College / Grinnell College
  • 2009 – Monmouth College / Grinnell College
  • 2010 – Monmouth College / Grinnell College
  • 2011 – Monmouth College / Grinnell College
  • 2012 – Monmouth College / Macalester College
  • 2013 – Grinnell College / Macalester College
  • 2014 – Augustana College / Macalester College
  • 2015 – Grinnell College / Macalester College
  • 2016 – Grinnell College / Macalester College
  • 2017 – Augustana College / Grinnell College
  • 2018 – Grinnell College / Macalester College
  • 2019 – Grinnell College / Macalester College

Division III National Collegiate Club Champion/Runner-Up

  • 2007 – Lindenwood University / Grinnell College
  • 2009 – Tufts University / Monmouth College
  • 2010 – University of California-Santa Cruz / Monmouth College
  • 2012 – Monmouth College / Washington University in St. Louis

THE TEAMS:  One of two divisions to exclusively qualify a team for the Division III National Collegiate Club Championship – joining the North Atlantic Division – the Heartland Division is comprised entirely of Division III programs.

Augustana College

A two-time Heartland Division Champion with wins in 2014 and 2017, Augustana College competes as a co-ed team during the men’s club season.  However, the school recently announced a decision to begin competing on the varsity level in both men’s and women’s water polo during the 2021-22 academic year.

Expected to continue competing in the Heartland Division for another season, the private Lutheran liberal arts college in Rock Island, Ill., currently enrolls approximately 2,500 students.

The school is currently building a new aquatics facility as the Austin E. Knowlton Center for Innovation in Health, Wellness and Human Performance will include a 25-yard pool.

Founded as Augustana College and Theological Seminary in 1860 by the Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Augustana Synod, Augustana ranks among the top 40 U.S. liberal arts colleges in the sciences, based on the number of graduates earning Ph.D.s. Students accepted to Augustana typically rank in the top 20% of their high school classes. 73% of Augustana students graduate in four years and 78% graduate in six years.

The services offered through CORE (Careers, Opportunities, Research and Exploration) afford students an advantage in graduate school placement and the job market. Three distinguishing opportunities are: Augie Choice which provides $2,000 to every student to support hands-on learning through research, an internship or international study; The Viking Scorecard which is a career and graduate school preparation guide; and a wide variety of faculty-led international programs ranging from two weeks to three months and covering all seven continents.

Augustana currently has nearly 90 academic programs and fields of study including nine pre-professional and eight interdisciplinary programs ranging from Accounting to World Literature.

The school is renowned for a unique item – dinosaurs. The Fryxell Geology Museum features a large collection of dinosaurs and fossils, rocks and mineral specimens. Displays include a complete skeleton of a Platecarpus “sea serpent”, skulls of Parasaurolophus, Ankylosaurus, Apatosaurus, Allosaurus and Tyrannosaurus rex and a two-billion-year-old fossil. There is also a complete 22-foot-long skeleton of Cryolophosaurus, a large, crested carnivorous dinosaur discovered in Antarctica in 1991 by Augustana paleontologist William Hammer.

For more information on the Augustana coed/men’s collegiate club team, contact Jason Palmer (jasonpalmer17@augustana.edu) or Mason Sargent (masonsargent17@augustana.edu).

  • Facebook (@AugieWaterPolo)
  • Website (https://athletics.augustana.edu/sports/mwpolo)

Carleton College

Among five Heartland Division teams located in the State of Minnesota, Carleton College is among two schools in the town of Northfield along with St. Olaf College.  Similar to other teams in the division – and a large portion of the men’s collegiate club teams around the nation – the squad competes as a coed team.

Founded in 1866 and currently enrolling 2,105 undergraduate students, Carleton is consistently ranked among the best national liberal arts colleges.  Rated fifth-best overall and first for undergraduate teaching by U.S. News & World Report in 2019, the institution has produced 122 National Science Foundation Graduate Fellows, 112 Fulbright Scholars, 22 Watson Fellows, 13 Goldwater Scholars and two Rhodes Scholars.  Further, Carleton is also one of the largest sources of undergraduate students pursuing doctorates per one hundred students for bachelors institutions.

The school offers 33 different majors and 31 minors.  Students also have the option to design their own major. There are ten languages offered: Spanish, French, German, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Arabic, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew.  The academic calendar follows a trimester system where students usually take three classes per 10-week term.

Degree students are required to take an Argument & Inquiry Seminar in their first year, a writing-rich course, three quantitative reasoning encounters (courses in which students work with quantitative data and arguments), language, international studies, intercultural domestic studies, humanistic inquiry, literary/artistic analysis, arts practice, science, formal or statistical reasoning, social inquiry, and physical education.

For the incoming class of 2023, the admittance rate was 19.2% of all applicants, making Carleton the most selective college in Minnesota.  Further, the school has a strong history of enrolling students who are in the National Merit Scholarship Program, often enrolling more than any other liberal arts college in the nation. Usually around 16% of the incoming class, the Class of 2021 included 51 National Merit Scholars.

For more information on the Carleton coed/men’s collegiate club team, contact either Rebekah Kissel (kisselr@carleton.edu) or Jez Meza-Bigornia (bigorniaj@carleton.edu).

  • Website (https://www.carleton.edu/sport-clubs/team-pages/water-polo/)

Grinnell College

An eight-time division champion (2001, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019) and nine-time runner-up (1999, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2017), the Wild Turkeys of the Grinnell College coed/men’s club team rates as the most successful program in the history of the Heartland Division.

The 2007 Division III Collegiate Club Championship runner-up, the team has a long-running rivalry with the Scots of Macalester College as the two programs have met five times (2013, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019) for the Heartland Division title over the past seven years and six times overall (1999) with Grinnell holding a 5-1 record in the clashes.

The Grinnell, Iowa, institution was founded in 1846 and has the sixth highest endowment-to-student ratio of liberal arts colleges, enabling need-blind admissions and substantial academic merit scholarships to boost socioeconomic diversity. Students receive funding for unpaid or underpaid summer internships and professional development (including international conferences and professional attire). Grinnell participates in a 3–2 engineering dual degree program with Columbia University, Washington University in St. Louis and the California Institute of Technology, a 2–1–1–1 engineering program with Dartmouth College and a Master of Public Health cooperative degree program with the University of Iowa.

Grinnell’s open curriculum encourages students to take initiative and to assume responsibility for their own courses of study. The sole core, or general education, requirement is the completion of the First-Year Tutorial, a one-semester, four-credit special topics seminar that stresses methods of inquiry, critical analysis, and writing skills. All other classes are chosen, with the direct guidance of a faculty member in the student’s major department, by the student.

In sharp contrast to all public universities and many private universities in the United States, no classes, labs or other courses are taught by graduate students.

Grinnell has twenty-six major departments and ten interdisciplinary concentrations. Popular majors include Psychology, Economics, Biology, History, English, and political science. The minimum requirements in a major area of study are typically limited to 32 credits in a single department, with some departments additionally requiring a small number of classes in related fields that are deemed critical for all students in that field. For example, the biology program requires 32 credits in the biology department plus two classes in chemistry and one in math.

To graduate, students are normally expected to complete at least 32 credits in a major field and a total of 124 credits of academic work. To encourage students to explore courses outside of their primary interest area, no more than 48 credits in one department and no more than 92 credits in one division are counted towards this requirement.

Grinnell’s commitment to the importance of off-campus study reflects the school’s emphasis on social and political awareness and the international nature of its campus. Approximately 60 percent of all Grinnell students participate in at least one of more than seventy off-campus programs, including the Grinnell-in-London program and study tours of China, France, Greece, and Russia. These study programs in Europe (including Russia), Africa, the Near East, and Asia, as well as nine programs in Central and South America, provide the opportunity for research in many disciplines, from archaeology to education to mathematics. In addition to off-campus programs, Grinnell offers internship programs in such areas as urban studies, art, and marine biology for students interested in field-based learning and experience in professional settings. Second- and third-year students may apply for summer internship grants and receive credit for the experience.

For more information on the Grinnell coed/men’s collegiate club team, contact Alex Lavery (laveryal@grinnell.edu).

  • Facebook (@gcwildturkeys)
  • Twitter (@GrinnellPolo)

Knox College

A coed/men’s team, Knox College was founded in 1837 in Galesburg, Ill., and offers more than 60 fields of study to its student body.

Knox employs a 3–3 academic calendar rather than a traditional semester-based approach. In each of the three 10-week terms, students take three courses. Faculty members teach two courses each term, giving them more time for one-on-one mentoring.

The college has an agreement The George Washington University for an early admission program into the university’s medical school, and a deal with the University of Rochester to create a direct admissions program into the university’s Simon School of Business’s MBA program;  in 2007 the Peace Corps launched a new program at Knox, establishing the Peace Corps Preparatory Program, the first of its kind in the country; Chinese language instruction, Asian Studies, Environmental Studies, and Film Studies were all added; and new abroad studies programs have been created.

Knox is also known for its Green Oaks term, an interdisciplinary program at the 700-acre Green Oaks Biological Field Station, during which students and faculty spend an entire term conducting research and creative projects and participating in courses in biology, anthropology-sociology, and English, as well as workshops in outdoor skills, first aid, and photography.

Knox also promotes undergraduate research, annually awarding students more than $250,000 in grants to support research and creative projects. More than 10 percent of Knox students receive support for independent research and study from the Richter Memorial Foundation Program and the Pew Research Fellowships, which offers Knox students support for off-campus research in science and mathematics. In addition, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund supports student research in ecology and environmental studies and the AAAS/Merck Grant funds interdisciplinary scientific research.

Knox provides a number of combined programs (3 years at Knox, 2–3 years at partnering institutions) to offer a few specialized degrees outside of the core liberal arts disciplines. These include engineering (Columbia University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, Washington University in St. Louis), environmental management (Duke University), forestry (Duke University), occupational therapy (Washington University in St. Louis) and law (University of Chicago, Columbia University).

Almost half of Knox students take advantage of the opportunities for off-campus learning, studying theatre in London, history in Barcelona, French immersion in Besançon, mathematics in Hungary, social development in Tanzania, language and culture in Japan, political science in Washington, D.C., and a host of other subjects in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the United States.

For more information on the Knox coed/men’s collegiate club team, contact either Fred Lehman (knoxcollegewaterpolo@gmail.com) or head coach Lexie Vernon (akvernon@knox.edu).

  • Facebook (@kcwaterpolo)
  • Instagram (@knoxcollegewaterpolo)
  • Website (https://www.knox.edu/campus-life/student-organizations/co-ed-and-womens-water-polo)

Macalester College

A four-time division champion (1999, 2000, 2005, 2006) and seven-time runner-up (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019), the Scots of Macalester College are a consistent presence in the semifinals and a regular competitor in the title game of the Heartland Division Championship.

Led by head coach Anya Philips, the Scots have appeared in seven of the past eight Heartlnad Division title games with runner-up finishes in each championship game.  

One of five Minnesota schools competing in the Heartland Division along with Carleton College, Saint John’s University of Minnesota, Saint Mary’s University of Minnestoa and St. Olaf College, the St. Paul, Minn., located institution has squared off with perennial nemesis Grinnell College (2013, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019), Augustana College (2014) and former club team/current varsity program Monmouth College (2012) seven times in the past eight years for the division title. 

Founded in 1874, Macalester is exclusively an undergraduate four-year institution and enrolls approximately 2,174 students from all 50 states, four United States territories, the District of Columbia and 97 countries.

Macalester offers over 800 courses and 39 majors. Students are also able to design their own interdisciplinary major. Courses are available in the physical sciences, humanities, mathematics and computer sciences, arts, social sciences, foreign languages, classics, several interdisciplinary fields, and pre-professional programs.  Pre-professional programs includes pre-law, pre-medical, a cooperative architecture program, and a cooperative engineering program. The most popular majors (in order) are economics, mathematics, biology, psychology and political science.

Under an agreement with Washington University’s School of Architecture in St. Louis, students may complete three years at Macalester before transferring to Washington University for a senior year of accelerated architectural study, leading to a B.A. from Macalester.  Three years of graduate study at Washington University then leads to a Master’s in architecture.

The academic calendar at Macalester is divided into a 14-week fall semester (September to December) and a 14-week spring semester (January to May).  All courses are offered for semester credit. Most courses are offered for four semester credits, but the amount of credit may vary.

During January, Macalester students may earn up to two semester credits in independent projects, internships, or Macalester-sponsored off-campus courses.  Additionally, Macalester students may earn up to eight semester credits in independent study during the summer through independent projects or internships.

For the Class of 2023, Macalester received 6,598 applications and accepted 31% of applicants.

For more information on the Macalester men’s collegiate club team, contact either Jayden West (jwest1@macalester.edu) or head coach Anya Phillips (anya.r.phillips@gmail.com).

Saint John’s University

A three-time Heartland Division runner-up (2004, 2005, 2007), Saint John’s University was founded in 1857 by the Benedictine monks of Saint John’s Abbey, having emigrated from Bavaria, Germany under the patronage of King Ludwig II. In addition to its undergraduate offerings, SJU includes Saint John’s School of Theology and Seminary, a graduate school that confers Master of Divinity and master of arts degrees and also prepares seminarians for the priesthood.

Located in Collegeville, Minn., the Johnnies actually hail from two schools as Saint John’s shares a common academic program with the College Saint Benedict – a women’s college in St. Joseph, Minn.  Men and women attend classes together on both campuses. About 4,000 students are enrolled in CSB/SJU combined. They attend coed classes taught by a joint faculty of approximately 350 professors.

Ninety percent of CSB/SJU graduates finish in four years, while 95% of CSB/SJU students receive financial aid.

CSB/SJU has achieved national recognition for its strength in study abroad and international education opportunities. The Institute of International Education ranks CSB/SJU among the top baccalaureate institutions in the nation for the number of students who study abroad. CSB/SJU ranks third among undergraduate institutions for participation in semester-long study abroad programs.  As of 2019, there are 18 semester-long study abroad sites available on six different continents. These destinations include: Austria, Chile, China, France, Germany, Greece/Italy, Japan, London, Australia, Guatemala, South Africa, Spain, Northern Ireland and multiple cities in Republic of Ireland.  The international educational compoent is true to the school’s population as CSB/SJU enroll approximately 250 students from 50 countries and offer 200 undergraduate courses that have a global focus.

The music program is expansive considering the size of the school as over half of the students at CSB/SJU participate in some kind of music ensemble. The department of music has many ensembles including four choirs, an orchestra, a wind ensemble, a jazz ensemble, and several small chamber ensembles. Many of these ensembles tour extensively both domestically and abroad. The department also presents an opera every year.

For more information on the Saint John’s coed/men’s collegiate club team, contact either Melissa Moy (mmoy001@csbsju.edu).

  • Website (https://www.csbsju.edu/sju-campus-recreation/sju-club-sports/sju-water-polo)

Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota

Located in Winona, Minn., Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota is a private Catholic university providing graduate and professional programs at facilities in Winona, the Minnesota/St. Paul, Rochester, Apple Valley, Minnetonka, and Oakdale, Minnesota; and various course delivery sites around Minnesota and Wisconsin; Jamaica, and Nairobi, Kenya.  The institution was founded in 1912 and is associated with the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools (Christian Brothers).

The school has an enrollment of 5,900 students, including 1,171 traditional undergraduates on campus and approximately 4,729 graduate students taking classes either online or via satellite locations.

Saint Mary’s has a wide variety of degrees offered as the institution offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees for both traditional and non-traditional students. In addition to the degrees, Saint Mary’s also offers teaching certifications and pre-professional programs.

For more information on the Saint Mary’s coed/men’s collegiate club team, contact either Jack Strotbeck (jtstro18@smumn.edu) or Dakota Becerra (jbecerda7791@icloud.com).

  • Website (https://saintmaryssports.com/sports/2018/7/18/saint-marys-club-sports.aspx)

St. Olaf College

The Rogue Waves of St. Olaf College returned to the collegiate club ranks this year with a roster of men and women following a 20-year absence from the sport.

“Rogue waves are unusually large, unexpected and suddenly appearing surface waves that can be extremely dangerous, even to large ships such as ocean liners,” notes club founder YiWynn Chan. “That is where our team name came from – that we are a new and unpredictable force, with strong water polo ambitions.”

Comprised of five nationalities with a roster of over 20 athletes, St. Olaf competed during the Fall 2019 season with only athletes holding freshman or sophomore class standing.  Further, the majority of the team was comprised of women.  During the men’s Heartland Division Championship weekend, the team fielded a roster of all women except the goalie.

An entirely student-run organization spanning coaching, finances, logistics, etc., the team offers a variety of ways for newcomers to immerse themselves in water polo.

“We laugh a lot during practices, all while encouraging each other to push ourselves harder,” notes Chan.

“Apart from teaching the basics of water polo, we also have swim classes to help those less confident in the pool to boost their swim skills and run stroke corrections as well.”

Located in Northfield, Min., St. Olaf has a natural rivalry with crosstown friend/foe Carleton College.

“We have a love hate relationship with them,” adds Chan. “Being the other school in town, our two colleges are supposed to be sworn enemies. Believe it or not, they are the reason the Waves exist today. They lent us a lot of equipment in the beginning before we were active enough for the college to fund us – so we are forever in debt to them for making water polo possible at St. Olaf.”

Still in the early stages of their club’s development, the Rogue Waves foresee bigger achievements on the horizon.

“As our club started with the Class of 2022, our aim is to qualify for nationals in our senior year.  Thanks to our current team lineup and drive, we think it is very possible to achieve the goal of training up a team fit to win the Heartland Division in our next few years at Olaf.”

Founded in 1874 by a group of Norwegian-American immigrant pastors and farmers, the college is named after the King and the Patron Saint Olaf II of Norway and is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The college enrolls 3,035 undergraduate students and has 256 faculty.  Overall, St. Olaf ranks 12th in the number of graduates who have gone on to earn doctorate degrees from among the nation’s 267 baccalaureate colleges.

St. Olaf students complete nearly 20 required courses in foundation studies (writing, a second language, oral communication, mathematical reasoning, physical well-being, as well as other courses) and core studies that include studies in Western culture, human behavior and society, biblical and theological studies, artistic and literary studies, and studies in natural science. Many of the courses are interdisciplinary. St. Olaf offers 39 major areas of study for the bachelor of arts degree, four for the bachelor of music degree and 19 areas of concentration.

The school holds a place in literary and television history thanks to being mentioned in the works of Minnesota author F. Scott Fitzgerald, whose character Jay Gatsby of The Great Gatsby attended the college briefly and worked as a janitor.  Further, the school earned a nod on the show, The Golden Girls, as the fictional hometown of Betty White’s character is St. Olaf, Minn.

For more information on the St. Olaf coed/men’s collegiate club team, contact either Danny Barry (barry@@stolaf.edu) or YiWynn Chen (chan4@stolaf.edu).

  • Instagram (@st.olaf_waterpolo_club)