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BRIDGEPORT, Pa. — High school athletes looking for a place to play have a number of opportunities on the collegiate club level in the Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) New York Division.

Among five women’s collegiate club divisions created in 2001 along with the Mid-Atlantic, New England, Southeast and Texas Divisions, the New York Division was comprised of Colgate University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Hamilton College, Hartwick College, New York University (NYU) and Syracuse University.

HISTORY:  The New York Division has seen four times claim the division championship with Columbia (2001, 2003, 2007, 2013, 2017), NYU (2002, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2014, 2015, 2016), Cornell (2005, 2006, 2011, 2012, 2018) and most recently Hartwick (2019) taking home the big plaque. Parity has been a strong point of the division over its history as Colgate (2001, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2010, 2014, 2016), Columbia (2002, 2009, 2011), Cornell (2004, 2007, 2015, 2019), Syracuse (2008, 2012, 2013) and NYU (2017, 2018) have all notched runner-up marks. Although among the National Championship contenders each year, a New York Division team has never advanced to the Women’s National Collegiate Club Championship title game.

New York Division Champion/Runner-Up

  • 2001 – Columbia University / Colgate University
  • 2002 – New York University / Columbia University
  • 2003 – Columbia University / Colgate University
  • 2004 – New York University / Cornell University
  • 2005 – Cornell University / Colgate University
  • 2006 – Cornell University / Colgate University
  • 2007 – Columbia University / Cornell University
  • 2008 – New York University / Syracuse University
  • 2009 – New York University / Columbia University
  • 2010 – New York University / Colgate University
  • 2011 – Cornell University / Columbia University
  • 2012 – Cornell University / Syracuse University
  • 2013 – Columbia University / Syracuse University
  • 2014 – New York University / Colgate University
  • 2015 – New York University / Cornell University
  • 2016 – New York University / Colgate University
  • 2017 – Columbia University / New York University
  • 2018 – Cornell University / New York University
  • 2019 – Hartwick College / Cornell University

Division III National Collegiate Club Champion/Runner-Up

  • 2019 – Middlebury College / New York University

THE TEAMS: The New York Division offers a little bit of everything for women’s athletes looking to compete on the collegiate level.  From the New York City hustle-bustle of NYU and Columbia, to the more quiet serenity of Hartwick, Syracuse, Cornell, Colgate and Hamilton, the division spans the Empire State to provide a range of academic and athletic opportunities.

Colgate University

A seven-time New York Division Championship runner-up (2001, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2010, 2014, 2016), the Raiders of Colgate University have been among the top teams at the upper echelon of the New York Division since the group’s formation in 2001.  Located in Hamilton, N.Y., Colgate was founded in 1819 and enrolls nearly 3,000 students in 56 undergraduate majors that culminate in a Bachelor of Arts degree; it also enrolls a dozen students in a Master of Arts in Teaching program.  The school has had a number of names over the years (Hamilton Literary & Theological Institution, Madison University) and caused the formation of another school as dissenting faculty and students from Colgate – when the school was going to move to Rochester and was halted by legal action – bucked the system and founded the University of Rochester.  In 1890, Madison University changed its name to Colgate University in recognition original trustee William Colgate – the founder of the Colgate Company – and his family’s gifts to the school.  In 1928, the theological side of Colgate merged with the Rochester Theological Seminary in 1928 to become the Colgate Rochester Divinity School, leaving Colgate to become non-denominational.

In addition to the 56 majors offered by the school, the university offers 22 semester-long off-campus study groups each year, including programs in Australia, China, Japan, India, several Western European countries, Washington, D.C. and the National Institutes of Health. Approximately two-thirds of Colgate undergraduates study abroad, which is a high proportion compared to other colleges and universities in the United States. About 95% of seniors graduate and most alumni proceed to graduate schools in law, administration, engineering, medicine, the arts and the sciences, as well as to financial, administrative or scientific occupations.  Colgate students are also able to enroll in classes at Hamilton College, located nearby in Clinton, N.Y. For the class of 2022, 24.9% of applicants for admission were accepted.

If you are planning to attend Colgate, cap number 13 maybe in high demand.  The number 13 is considered to be lucky at Colgate as it is said that Colgate was founded by thirteen men with thirteen dollars, thirteen prayers and thirteen articles. This tradition is expressed in many ways. Colgate’s address is 13 Oak Drive, and its zip code is 13346, which begins with 13 and ends with three digits that sum to 13.  Konosioni, a senior honor society, is composed of thirteen men and thirteen women.  Alumni wear Colgate apparel on every Friday the 13th, which is designated as Colgate Day.

In addition, the school is credited with creating Spring Break in Florida.  In 1936, the Colgate swim team made its first trip to Fort Lauderdale, Florida for spring break training at the Casino Pool. This became a regular tradition for Colgate that caught on with other schools across the country, and proved to be the genesis of the college spring break trip.

For more information on the Colgate women’s collegiate club team, contact Maeve DeFronzo (mdefronzo@colgate.edu).

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Columbia University

The Lions of Columbia University have been a consistent presence near or at the top of the New York Division since the division’s formation.  A five-time champion (2001, 2003, 2007, 2013, 2017) and three-time runner-up (2002, 2009, 2011), the New York City institution was established in 1754 on the grounds of Trinity Church in Manhattan, and is the oldest institution of higher education in New York and the fifth-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. It is one of nine colonial colleges founded prior to the Declaration of Independence, seven of which belong to the Ivy League. The school exists in part due to the creation of Princeton University as Columbia was founded as King’s College by royal charter of George II of Great Britain in reaction to the founding of Princeton University.  It was renamed Columbia College in 1784 following the American Revolution, and in 1787 was placed under a private board of trustees headed by former students Alexander Hamilton (not be be confused with fellow New York institution Lin Manuel Miranda) and John Jay (who went on to become the first Chief Justice of the United States). In 1896, the campus was moved to its current location in Morningside Heights and renamed Columbia University.

For 2020, Columbia’s undergraduate acceptance rate was 6.1%, making it one of the most selective colleges in the United States.  Columbia has three official undergraduate colleges: Columbia College, the liberal arts college offering the Bachelor of Arts degree; the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science (also known as SEAS or Columbia Engineering), the engineering and applied science school offering the Bachelor of Science degree; and The School of General Studies, the liberal arts college offering the Bachelor of Arts degree to non-traditional students undertaking full- or part-time study.  Barnard College, an undergraduate college of the greater Columbia Community, is an all-women’s institution and an academic affiliate in which students receive a Bachelor of Arts degree that is conferred by the Columbia University board of trustees.  Barnard students are also eligible to cross-register classes that are available through the Barnard Catalogue.  Joint degree programs are available through Union Theological Seminary, the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, as well as through the Juilliard School.  Success has been a hallmark of Columbia since its founding as its alumni and affiliates include: five Founding Fathers of the United States—among them an author of the United States Constitution and a co-author of the Declaration of Independence; three U.S. presidents; 29 foreign heads of state; ten justices of the United States Supreme Court, two of whom currently serve; 96 Nobel laureates; 101 National Academy members; 53 living billionaires; eleven Olympic medalists; 33 Academy Award winners; and 125 Pulitzer Prize recipients.

“The best thing about playing water polo at Columbia is how close our team is,” notes Aya Chang.  “I spend most of my time with these girls, in and out of the pool.  In a big city, it’s nice to have a group of people who will always have your back.”

Beyond the athletic portion of their collegiate experience, Columbia women’s water polo players are involved outside campus too.  For example, goalie Michelle Evans is working as a registered nurse in Atlanta for Coronavirus/COVID-19 relief.

Per Arya Rao, “The Columbia Water Polo community is filled with kind, hardworking girls who all help each other learn and grow—I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of this team.”

For more information on the Columbia women’s water polo team, contact either Aya Chang (alc2280@columbia.edu) or the Columbia University women’s water polo team account (columbiawomenspolo@gmail.com).

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Cornell University

A five-time division champion (2005, 2006, 2011, 2012, 2018) and four-time runner-up (2004, 2007, 2015, 2019), the Big Red of Cornell University hold the second most title game appearances in New York Division history behind the 10 garnered by New York University.

Located in Ithaca, N.Y., and one of two Ivy League schools in the New York Division along with Columbia University, Cornell was founded in 1865 by Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White to teach and make contributions in all fields of knowledge—from the classics to the sciences, and from the theoretical to the applied. These ideals are captured in Cornell’s founding principle, a popular 1868 Ezra Cornell quotation: “I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study.”

The university is broadly organized into seven undergraduate colleges and seven graduate divisions at its main Ithaca campus, with each college and division defining its specific admission standards and academic programs in near autonomy. The university also administers two satellite medical campuses, one in New York City and one in Education City, Qatar, and Cornell Tech, a graduate program that incorporates technology, business, and creative thinking. Since 2000, Cornell has been expanding its international programs. In 2004, the university opened the Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar. It has partnerships with institutions in India, Singapore, and the People’s Republic of China.

As of October 2019, 59 Nobel laureates, four Turing Award winners and one Fields Medalist have been affiliated with Cornell University. Cornell counts more than 245,000 living alumni, and its former and present faculty and alumni include 34 Marshall Scholars, 31 Rhodes Scholars, 29 Truman Scholars, 7 Gates Scholars, 55 Olympic Medalists, and 14 living billionaires. The student body consists of more than 15,000 undergraduate and 8,000 graduate students from all 50 American states and 119 countries.

Admission to the university is highly competitive. For Fall 2019, Cornell received over 49,000 applications and 5,183 were admitted, a 10.6% acceptance rate.  The school currently has over 1,000 student organizations – including the women’s club water polo team.

Led by Physics professor/coach/expert in particle physics Yuval Grossman, the Big Red have made the Women’s National Collegiate Club Championship six times as the team represented the New York Division in 2019 at the University of Notre Dame due to division champion Hartwick College being unable to attend.

Like any school, Cornell has its own traditions.  Cornelliana is a term for Cornell’s traditions, legends, and lore. Cornellian traditions include Slope Day, a celebration held on the last day of classes of the spring semester, and Dragon Day, which includes the burning of a dragon built by architecture students. Dragon Day is one of the school’s oldest traditions and has been celebrated annually since 1901, typically on or near St. Patrick’s Day. The dragon is built secretly by the architecture students, and taunting messages are left for the engineering students for the week before Dragon Day. On Dragon Day, the dragon is paraded across the Arts Quad and then set afire.

The university is also host to various student pranks. For example, on at least two different occasions the university has awoken to find something odd atop the 173-foot (52.7 m) tall McGraw clock tower—once a 60-pound pumpkin and another time a disco ball. Because there is no access to the spire atop the tower, how the items were put in place remains a mystery. The colors of the lights on McGraw tower change to orange for Halloween and green for St. Patrick’s Day. The clock tower also plays music.

Although the school’s nickame is Big Red (the school colors are actually carnelian – a play on “Cornelian” and Andrew Dickson White), a bear is commonly used as the unofficial mascot, which dates back to the introduction of the mascot “Touchdown” in 1915, a live bear who was brought onto the field during football games.

For more information on the Cornell women’s water polo team, contact either Kelsey Carpenter (kmc369@cornell.edu) or Christabella Forest (cf369@cornell.edu).

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Hamilton College

A newcomer to the New York Division as the Continentals competed in their first season during the 2020 campaign, Hamilton College was founded as Hamilton-Oneida Academy in 1793 and was chartered as Hamilton College in 1812 to honor inaugural trustee Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton has been coeducational since 1978, when it merged with its coordinate sister school Kirkland College.

Located in Clinton, N.Y., Hamilton is an exclusively undergraduate institution, enrolling 1,850 students in the fall of 2019. Students may choose from 55 areas of study, including 43 majors, or design an interdisciplinary concentration. Hamilton’s student body is 53% female and 47% male, and comes from 45 U.S. states and 46 countries.

For the Class of 2023 (enrolling Fall 2019), Hamilton received 8,339 applications and accepted 1,366 (16.4%), and 474 enrolled.  The school is unique for its flexible curriculum.  Beyond the courses required for a concentration, students have nearly total freedom over their course selection. However, students do have to complete a quantitative and symbolic reasoning requirement, which can be fulfilled through courses in a variety of departments, and a writing requirement, for which students must take at least three writing intensive courses.

For more information on the Hamilton women’s water polo team, contact SJ Bennett (sxbennet@hamilton.edu).

Hartwick College

Hartwick College, which joined the New York Division prior to the 2019 season, claimed the New York division title in the program’s first-year as a collegiate club program.  Located in Oneonta, N.Y., and previously a varsity team which captured the Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) Eastern Championship in 2004, 2006 and 2007, while finishing second in 2002, 2008 and 2009, the Hawks have been a dominating presence in the New York Division over the past two seasons.

The club – which has yet to lose a game as of April 2020 – boasts athletes from Florida, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Serbia.  Further, the team – which claimed the 2019 New York Division Championship against Cornell University but was unable to attend the National Collegiate Club Championship – has a track record of producing nurses as four of the current 11 players on the roster are majoring in nursing.

“Hartwick water polo club is warm and inviting,” notes Hayley Hill. “Being coached by our own experienced teammates makes it easier to communicate and develop as athletes. As a program, we never step down when someone tells us to stop. We fight to be in the water every single day and to play the game we love.” 

Another player adds, “I enjoy playing for Hartwick water polo club because the girls on the team created a love for a sport I hadn’t ever given any thought. Through the help of the upperclassmen, I really saw myself grow into a better swimmer and water polo player.”

Hartwick currently has 1,200 undergraduate students from 30 states and 22 countries, 187 faculty members and the student-faculty ratio is 11-1.  Founded in 1797 as Hartwick Seminary near Cooperstown, N.Y. via the will of John Christopher Hartwick, the school became Hartwick College in 1927 when it took over its current location and was incorporated as a four-year institution.

The school currently offers 31 majors and 24 areas of study leading to a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree. In addition, it offers 11 minors, pre-professional programs in law, medicine, engineering and allied health professions; and five cooperative programs in engineering, law, business, and physical and occupational therapy. Students can also choose a concentration within their major. The pre-engineering program at Hartwick has cooperative agreements with both at Columbia University and Clarkson University that allow students to spend three years at Hartwick and two years at one of the other schools studying engineering. Successful completion brings a bachelor’s degree from Hartwick and an engineering degree from Clarkson or Columbia.

Hartwick’s three-year bachelor’s degree program allows qualified students to receive a degree in three years, as opposed to the traditional four. Since its launch in 2009, the program has sparked national interest for cost savings and quality.

For more information on the Hartwick women’s water polo team, contact either Hayley Hill (hillh@hartwick.edu) or Nikolina Mihajlovik (mihajlovikn@hartwick.edu).

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New York University

The most successful women’s collegiate club team in the New York Division with eight championships (2002, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2014, 2015, 2016) and a pair of runner-up finishes (2017, 2018), New York University is currently led by head coach Colin Hong.  The Violets join Hamilton College as the only Division III institutions in the New York Division as both programs are eligible to attend either the Women’s National Collegiate Club Championship or the recently created Women’s Division III National Collegiate Club Championship.  In 2019, NYU finished in Third Place at the inaugural Division III Championship hosted by Villanova University in Villanova, Pa.

“A quarter of both our men’s and women’s teams every year are brand new to water polo, we do our best to be as inclusive of a program as possible,” states Colin Hong. “We haven’t limited travel team sizes yet, and everyone who travels to tournaments with us is expected to play, which is awesome.”

Founded in 1831 by Albert Gallatin as an institution to “admit based upon merit rather than birthright or social class”, NYU’s historical campus is in Greenwich Village – the cultural heart of New York City.  A highly selective institution that admitted 15% of more than 85,000 applicants in fall 2019, making NYU the most applied-to private university in the United States, the institution is organized into 25 schools, including 10 undergraduate school and numerous graduate schools.  NYU is one of the top feeder schools for careers in finance and investment banking on Wall Street, accounting for 3.9% of hires in major financial institutions.

Labeled as one of the “New Ivies” and ranked as America’s “#1 dream school” by the Princeton Review for a number of years, NYU is unique in a number of ways.  The university’s medical school, NYU Grossman School of Medicine, became tuition-free to all students in 2018, regardless of need or merit, becoming the only national top 10 medical school. The university’s other graduate schools are also highly ranked, including NYU School of Law as the 6th best law school in the nation, the Stern School of Business as the 10th best business school in the nation, the Tisch School of Arts as the 2nd best film school in the nation, and the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences. 

As of 2019, multiple heads of state, royalty, a US Supreme Court justice, five State Governors, 17 billionaires, 37 Nobel Laureates, eight Turing Award winners, five Fields Medalists, 31 MacArthur Fellows, 167 Guggenheim Fellows, three astronauts, 26 Pulitzer Prize winners, 37 Academy Award winners, 30 Emmy Award winners, 25 Tony Award winners, 12 Grammy Award winners and numerous members of the National Academies of Sciences, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, United States Congress, and U.S. diplomats have been affiliated as either faculty or alumni. 

“We have a great alumni network at NYU, our coaches are NYU alumni, and we have a network of former players that help run our practices throughout the year,” per Hong. “The support from our athletics office is amazing and we’re constantly trying to involve former members of our community as much as possible. This provides our current students with opportunity to talk to graduates, make connections, and to see that being on this team extends past the four years of undergrad most students are here for.”

For more information on the NYU women’s water polo team, contact Colin Hong (cjh510@nyu.edu).

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Syracuse University

Syracuse University – which holds three runner-up finishes in the New York Division (2008, 2012, 2013) – is a contradiction as the team exists in one of the snowiest cities in the United States with athletes coming from such places as Southeast and California Zones.

Braving the snowy treks to Sibley Pool, the Orange a mix of experienced athletes and relative newcomers who come together for the love of the game.

“As someone who has been playing water polo for the greater part of a decade, I have been very grateful for my team at Syracuse and everyone’s genuine appreciation for the game,” states captain/rising junior Ashly Pelletier. “Some of us have played for years, and others only a few months so it’s a great learning experience for everyone. I love the game, and being able to play it with my best friends just makes it even better!”

Pelletier – a center defender – and Audrey Liebhaber – an attacker who recently completed her freshman season as a member of the Syracuse program – are expected to help lead the resurgent Orange back to the top of the New York Division in 2021.

“I didn’t think playing water polo past high school mattered at all to me, but now as an incoming senior, it gave me more than I could have ever imagined,” recalls captain and rising senior Ally Walsh. “I love being the team mom more than I think the team even realizes. Can’t wait for next season!”

Located in Syracuse, N.Y., and founded in 1870, Syracuse has an acceptance rate of 47%.  In 2018, 26% of the incoming students were students of color; 18% were first-generation college students; and 75% received some financial aid. Students came from 48 states, along with Washington, D.C., Guam and Puerto Rico. Nearly 600 international undergraduate students from 59 countries were also admitted.

SU offers undergraduate degrees in over 200 majors in nine undergraduate schools and colleges. Bachelor’s degrees are offered through the Syracuse University School of Architecture, the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Education, the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the School of Information Studies, Martin J. Whitman School of Management, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, and the College of Visual and Performing Arts. Also offered are Master’s and doctoral degrees online and in person from the Graduate School and from specialized programs in the Martin J. Whitman School of Management, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, College of Law, among others. Additionally, SU offers Certificates of Advanced Study Programs for specialized programs for education, counseling and other academic areas.

For more information on the Syracuse women’s water polo team, contact Jessica Hume (cusepolo@gmail.com).

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