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BRIDGEPORT, Pa. — The Collegiate Water Polo Association Women’s Collegiate Club Spotlight Series changes focus this week to concentrate on the Mid-Atlantic Division of 2020 competitors Carnegie Mellon University, Pennsylvania State University “Blue”, Pennsylvania State University “White”, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Pittsburgh and West Chester University of Pennsylvania.

HISTORY:  Founded in 2001, the Mid-Atlantic Division has truly lived up to its name encompassing over half of the states on the East Coast between Pennsylvania and North Carolina during its 20-year tenure as part of the Collegiate Water Polo Association.  Currently exclusively comprised of schools located in the Keystone State of Pennsylvania with Carnegie Mellon (Pittsburgh, Pa.), Penn State (State College, Pa.), Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, Pa.), Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, Pa.) and West Chester (West Chester, Pa.) making up the grouping’s membership, the Mid-Atlantic Division’s history also includes past members from Maryland (University of Maryland), Virginia (James Madison University, University of Richmond, University of Virginia, Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University) and North Carolina (Duke Universty, East Carolina State University, University of North Carolina) along with a handful of other Pennsylvania schools (Bloomsburg University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania).

In the history of the division, Pennsylvania and Penn State have been the dominant programs with the Quakers (2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010) and Nittany Lions (2001, 2005, 2011, 2015, 2018, 2019) combining for 12 of the previous 19 division championship crowns.  Combined the two schools have appeared in the division title game 21 times out of a possible 38 berths with Penn (2003, 2011, 2012) and Penn State (2002, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017) placing second nine times.

Pittsburgh is the only other active team in the division to win the crown as the Panthers took home the 2016 and 2017 titles along with runner-up berths in 2006, 2007, 2015, 2018 and 2019.  West Chester has also played for the division title with a second place mark in 2005.

Maryland (2002), Virginia (2003) and Duke (2012, 2013, 2014) – which were absorbed into the recreated Atlantic Division in 2015 along with the CWPA’s other North Carolina, Maryland and Virginia women’s collegiate club institutions – have also won the Mid-Atlantic Division title with the Terrapins (2001), Wahoos (2004, 2009) and Blue Devils (2008) also finishing in the runner-up spot four-times.

Mid-Atlantic Division Champion/Runner-Up

  • 2001 – Pennsylvania State University / University of Maryland
  • 2002 – University of Maryland / Pennsylvania State University
  • 2003 – University of Virginia / University of Pennsylvania
  • 2004 – University of Pennsylvania / University of Virginia
  • 2005 – Pennsylvania State University / West Chester University
  • 2006 – University of Pennsylvania / University of Pittsburgh
  • 2007 – University of Pennsylvania / University of Pittsburgh
  • 2008 – University of Pennsylvania / Duke University
  • 2009 – University of Pennsylvania / University of Virginia
  • 2010 – University of Pennsylvania / Pennsylvania State University
  • 2011 – Pennsylvania State University / University of Pennsylvania
  • 2012 – Duke University / University of Pennsylvania
  • 2013 – Duke University / Pennsylvania State University
  • 2014 – Duke University / Pennsylvania State University
  • 2015 – Pennsylvania State University / University of Pittsburgh
  • 2016 – University of Pittsburgh / Pennsylvania State University
  • 2017 – University of Pittsburgh / Pennsylvania State University
  • 2018 – Pennsylvania State University / University of Pittsburgh
  • 2019 – Pennsylvania State University / University of Pittsburgh

National Collegiate Club Champion/Runner-Up

  • None

THE TEAMS: Located in a 300-mile width between Pittsburgh in the West and Philadelphia in the East, the Mid-Atlantic Division was among the smallest women’s division with six teams and five teams competing for a berth to the Women’s National Collegiate Club Championship in 2020.  Although small in number, the division has been a player on the national scene during its 20-year run as Mid-Atlantic squads have been among the Top 10 teams at the National Championship tournament on a consistent basis since 2001.

Carnegie Mellon University

One of two private institutions in the women’s Mid-Atlantic Division, Carnegie Mellon University was founded in 1900 by Andrew Carnegie in Pittsburgh, Pa., as the Carnegie Technical Schools, the university became the Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1912 and began granting four-year degrees. In 1967, the Carnegie Institute of Technology merged with the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research to form Carnegie Mellon University.  With its main campus located three miles from Downtown Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon has grown into an international university with over a dozen degree-granting locations in six continents, including campuses in Qatar and Silicon Valley, and more than 20 research partnerships. The university has seven colleges and independent schools, all of which offer interdisciplinary programs: the College of Engineering, College of Fine Arts, Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Mellon College of Science, Tepper School of Business, H. John Heinz III College of Information Systems and Public Policy, and the School of Computer Science.

Among the leading centers of scientific research, Carnegie Mellon counts 14,799 students from 117 countries, over 109,000 living alumni, and over 1,400 faculty members. Past and present faculty and alumni include 20 Nobel Prize laureates, 13 Turing Award winners, 23 Members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 22 Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 79 Members of the National Academies, 124 Emmy Award winners, 47 Tony Award laureates and 10 Academy Award winners.

The Tartans are one of two women’s collegiate club teams in Pittsburgh with the campus bordered to the west by the campus of the University of Pittsburgh.

In the 1990s and into the 2000s, Carnegie Mellon solidified its status among American universities, consistently ranking in the top 25 in the national U.S. News & World Report rankings, and in the top 60 (ranking 55th in 2013) among universities worldwide.  Carnegie Mellon is distinct in its interdisciplinary approach to research and education. Through the establishment of programs and centers that are outside the limitations of departments or colleges, the university has established leadership in fields such as computational finance, information systems, cognitive sciences, management, arts management, product design, behavioral economics, energy science and economics, human-computer interaction, entertainment technology, and decision science.

For the class of 2023 (enrolling fall 2019), Carnegie Mellon received 27,634 applications and accepted 4,265 (15.4%), with 1,585 enrolling.  The acceptance rates of the individual colleges and programs ranged from Carnegie Mellon School of Architecture’s 30% to Carnegie Mellon School of Drama’s 3%.  The largest college, in terms of the class of 2023 enrollment, is the College of Engineering with 407 students, followed by the Dietrich College of Humanities & Social Sciences with 277, and the School of Computer Science with 218. The smallest college is the School of Design, with 34. Overall,  in 2019 Carnegie Mellon enrolled students from 48 U.S. states and more than 70 countries.

For more information on the Carnegie Mellon women’s collegiate club team, contact Victoria Chen (vyc@andrew.cmu.edu).

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Pennsylvania State University

A six-time Mid-Atlantic Division Champion (2001, 2005, 2011, 2015, 2018, 2019) and six-time runner-up (2002, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017), the Nittany Lions of Pennsylvania State University fielded two teams in the division during the 2020 season – Penn State Blue and Penn State White.

The only team to field a pair of squads in the division, Penn State remains a tight-knit group irregardless of the quantity of athletes the team carries on its rosters.

“We are one big family who get to travel together and play a sport we love,” states Sofia Viebranz. “This year, we had almost 20 new players which gave us the opportunity to have an A and B team and bring everyone to all of the tournaments. Our team is very diverse, with members from seven different states. Over half of our team is made up of girls who have never played in high school and we love to teach the new players the sport.”

PSU, which has made the Mid-Atlantic Division title game for seven consecutive years (2013-to-2019) and nine of 10 years from 2010-to-2019 (missing out in 2012), is tied with the University of Pennsylvania for the most division titles with six.  In addition, the University of Pittsburgh has two championships since 2016 as the Panthers claimed the 2016 and 2017 crowns over the Nittany Lions.

“In our division, Pitt and UPenn are our biggest rivals,” adds Viebranz.

“We love to travel to new tournaments where we can play teams we have never played before. In 2019, we traveled to Penn State Behrend and had the opportunity to play some varsity Division II and Division III teams which was a lot of fun.

Although the competition may change, PSU’s goal remains the same.

“Every year our biggest goal is to improve as a team. We aim to win regionals and move onto nationals.”

The outlook for Penn State in 2021 – following the pandemic shortened season which terminated the team’s quest for a third consecutive National Collegiate Club Championship berth – looks bright as Maddie Ulrich, Claire Beno, Leah Perkins, Becka Hart, Devon Van Rensburg and Hope Nuzback return to a squad losing Viebranz, Ashley Southwick and Holly Rae Hanson to graduation.

Founded in 1855 as the Farmers’ High School of Pennsylvania, Penn State is among the largest schools in the world.  Annual enrollment at the University Park campus in State College, Pa., totals more than 46,800 graduate and undergraduate students.  Further, the school has the world’s largest dues-paying alumni association.

One of a select group of schools in the world to have two law schools – Penn State Law, on the school’s University Park campus, and Dickinson Law, located in Carlisle, 90 miles south of State College – the school also has a College of Medicine is located in Hershey.  The university offers more than 160 majors and has multiple extracurricular activities.

Annually, the university hosts the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (THON), which is the world’s largest student-run philanthropy and annually raises in excess of $10 million for the fight against childhood cancer.

“A lot of our players coach water polo teams during the summer,” adds Viebranz, “but most of our members do much more than just water polo. A lot of our members play other club or intramural sports including club swim and crew. We also have a lot of girls participating in time intensive extracurriculars such as Army ROTC, Lion Scouts, Ag Advocates and Lion Ambassadors (tour-leading groups), along with THON.”

Overall, the school boasts an undergraduate acceptance rate of 50%. During the fall 2018 semester, 40,363 undergraduate students and 5,907 graduate students were enrolled at University Park. Of those, 46.5 percent were female and 42.4 percent were non-Pennsylvania residents.

For more information on the Penn State women’s collegiate club teams, contact Sofia Viebranz (sbv5013@psu.edu), head coach Aaron Lionetti (aml6367@psu.edu) or the team’s general email account (psu.womenswaterpolo@gmail.com).

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University of Pennsylvania

A six-time Mid-Atlantic Division Champion (2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010) and three-time runner-up (2003, 2011, 2012), the Quakers of the University of Pennsylvania rate as the sole program to claim the group’s title five consecutive years.

The team located at the Eastern most point of the Mid-Atlantic Division and one of three schools in a metropolitan setting (joining the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University) due to its location in Philadelphia, Pa., Penn rates as a center of water polo excellence, an Ivy League institution and among the leading institutions for research and business.

Founded in 1740 and one of the nine colonial colleges chartered prior to the United States Declaration of Independence, the school was unique from its formation. Benjamin Franklin, Penn’s founder and first president, advocated an educational program that trained leaders in commerce, government, and public service, similar to a modern liberal arts curriculum.

Penn has four undergraduate schools as well as twelve graduate and professional schools. Among its graduate and professional schools are the first school of medicine in North America (Perelman School of Medicine, 1765) and the first collegiate business school (Wharton School, 1881).

As of 2018, distinguished alumni include 14 heads of state, 64 billionaires, three U.S. Supreme Court justices, 33 U.S. Senators, 44 U.S. Governors, 159 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, eight signers of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, 12 signers of the U.S. Constitution, 24 members of the Continental Congress, and two presidents of the United States, including the current U.S. President, Donald Trump.  Other notable alumni include 29 Rhodes Scholars, 15 Marshall Scholars, 16 Pulitzer Prize winners, and 48 Fulbright Scholars.  As of October 2019, 36 Nobel laureates, 169 Guggenheim Fellows, 80 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and many Fortune 500 CEOs have been affiliated with the university.  Further, Penn has the highest number of undergraduate alumni billionaires of any school in the United States.

The College of Arts and Sciences is the undergraduate division of the School of Arts and Sciences. The School of Arts and Sciences also contains the Graduate Division and the College of Liberal and Professional Studies, which is home to the Fels Institute of Government, the master’s programs in Organizational Dynamics, and the Environmental Studies (MES) program. Wharton is the business school of the University of Pennsylvania. Other schools with undergraduate programs include the School of Nursing and the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS).

Penn has a strong focus on interdisciplinary learning and research. It offers double degree programs, unique majors, and academic flexibility. Penn’s “One University” policy allows undergraduates access to courses at all of Penn’s undergraduate and graduate schools except the medical, veterinary and dental schools. Undergraduates at Penn may also take courses at Bryn Mawr College, Haverford College and Swarthmore College under a reciprocal agreement known as the Quaker Consortium.

The Princeton Review ranks Penn as the sixth most selective school in the United States. For the Class of 2024, entering in the fall of 2020, the University received 42,205 applications and admitted 8.07% of the applicants.  At the graduate level, based on admission statistics from U.S. News & World Report, Penn’s most selective programs include its law school, the health care schools (medicine, dental medicine, nursing, Social Work and veterinary) and its business school.

For more information on the Penn women’s collegiate club team, contact Claire Canestrino (upennwomenswp@gmail.com).

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University of Pittsburgh

The 2016 and 2017 Mid-Atlantic Division Champion and a five-time runner-up (2006, 2007, 2015, 2018, 2019), the University of Pittsburgh competed during the 2020 season in memory of teammate Mary A. Koback.

On October 26, 2019, the team learned of Koback’s passing.  A treasured teammate, player and friend, the wake of the loss the team created a fundraiser for her family that has since successfully raised $18,850 out of a goal of initially only $1,000. The family dedicated the money back to the Panthers’ women’s club program to promote the future and growth of water polo for young, college-aged female players at Pittsburgh. During the 2020 season, the team’s suits were customized with purple ribbons in the top right corner – her favorite color – and her cap number, #7, centered over each ribbon.

A perpetual threat to claim the Mid-Atlantic Division title over the past five seasons, Pittsburgh credits its familiar relationship for its success.

“What makes our program unique is the true family bond we have developed,” says Maddy Todaro. “The tragedy our team was faced with overcoming this season has bonded us closely together. We have been able to grieve, heal and overcome our shared experience as a team. On days of doubt, struggle, or sadness, in or out of the water there is always a family of teammates standing behind you. We lean on each for support, and it was as a family that we were able to enter our 2020 season strong and united.”

During Pittsburgh’s rise in the division, the Panthers have consistently clashed with Pennsylvania State University as the Panthers and Nittany Lions have met for the Mid-Atlantic Division title in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.

“One of our favorite teams to play is Penn State. The atmosphere while playing against them is always great. Our fans, and parents on both sides are always engaged and invested in the game, and there is great energy both in and out of the pool.”

However, the goal for Pitt remains the same as every year – win the division and advance to the National Collegiate Club Championship – an event the team earned the distinction of hosting in 2017.

“The goals for our program moving forward are first centered on recruiting more players and growing our team this Fall. Down the line our biggest goal is to play our way back into the championship game and again take home the Mid-Atlantic title.”

Leading the charge for Pitt in 2021 is rising junior Karyn Bartosic. One of the team’s more experienced players, Bartosic was the team’s top scorer last season. Rising sophomore Rachel Keyser has been a great addition to the team, while rising junior/goalie Todaro is the bedrock of the squad’s defense.  On the bench, head coach Jim Staresinic, who was recently awarded “Top Coach” for the Cadet age group at the USA Water Polo Olympic Development Program (ODP) national championship guides the Panthers to new heights for a program and institution with a strong history of success in the classroom and the water.

Founded in 1787 as the Pittsburgh Academy, renamed in 1819 as the Western University of Pennsylvania and assuming its current moniker as the University of Pittsburgh in 1908, the university is composed of 17 undergraduate and graduate schools and colleges at its urban Pittsburgh campus, home to the university’s central administration and 28,391 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. Pitt is the third-largest recipient of federally sponsored health research funding among U.S. universities in 2018 and it is a major recipient of research funding from the National Institutes of Health.  The school ws ranked among the top research universities in the United States in both domestic and international rankings and it has been listed as a “best value” in higher education by several publications.

Undergraduate degrees can be earned as Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, and Bachelor of Philosophy. Along with providing certificate programs, graduate level master’s, professional, and doctoral degrees are also awarded. Pitt has also initiated a University-wide Outside the Classroom Curriculum (OCC) that includes a structured series of extracurricular programs and experiences designed to complement students’ academic studies and help develop personal attributes and professional skills.

For more information on the Pitt women’s collegiate club team, contact Maddy Todaro (MGT21@pitt.edu).

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West Chester University of Pennsylvania

Located approximately 35 miles outside Philadelphia, Pa., in the town of West Chester, West Chester University finished second in the Mid-Atlantic Division during the 2005 season. 

Founded in 1871, the university offers Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Music degrees on the undergraduate level to a student-body comprised of 14,400 undergraduates along with approximately 2,600 graduate students. Paraprofessional studies are available in law, medicine and theology. In cooperation with Pennsylvania State University, Columbia University and Philadelphia University, WCU offers a 3–2 dual-degree program combining liberal arts, physics and engineering. Also available are early admission assurance programs with Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and Temple University School of Medicine. The university provides special admission opportunities and scholarships to the Widener School of Law–Harrisburg Campus. Certification programs are available in health and physical education, teacher certification, driver education and safe living, and outdoor recreation. Interdisciplinary areas of study with transcript recognition include American studies, ethnic studies, Latin American studies, Russian studies, peace and conflict studies, women’s studies, and linguistics. At the graduate level, West Chester University of Pennsylvania offers master’s (M.A., M.B.A., M.Ed., M.M., M.P.A., M.P.H., M.S., M.S.W., M.S.N., M.U.R.P.) and doctoral (DPA, DNP, Ed.D., Psy.D.) degrees.

For more information on the West Chester women’s collegiate club team, contact Montgomerie Weitzel (wcuwomenspolo@gmail.com or MW888913@wcupa.edu).

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