Coming to Texas
So You're Relocating to Texas
Or at least you’re thinking about it. Good enough! You won’t find us trying to convince you not to. We love this state, so we want to help you understand what to expect from your water polo experience in Texas if you’re not already familiar with it. And we know a little about it since several of our coaches and athletes have made the plunge, planting roots in Texas after moving from California, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere. And we’ve had the good fortune to speak with many people curious about coming here and can address some of the most common questions they have. There’s a lot here so read on.
Where should we locate?
Did you really think we’d suggest anywhere besides the Round Rock-Austin area? I mean, we are trying to grow our program!
Yeah, but we’re not moving to Central Texas
OK, we get that not everyone can move to our region. There are three general areas (and growing) where you’ll find established water polo clubs and high school programs in the state: North Texas (Dallas/Ft. Worth); Houston; and Central Texas (Austin, San Antonio). Other areas like the Rio Grande Valley, Laredo, Bryan/College Station, are on the water polo map to varying degrees too. You’ll find something in any of those three big areas.
Did you know?
Girls and boys high school water polo has been played in Texas continuously since 1972. It’s the newest sport sanctioned by the UIL having conducted its first ever state-sanctioned season in the fall of 2022. Texas A&M regularly sent its varsity men’s water polo team to NCAA Championship Tournaments until the late 70s. Austin College in Sherman is home to the state’s first Varsity NCAA program since 1978.
On second thought, we ARE coming to Central Texas
Good choice! Here are a few general things you can expect if you relocate to the Austin-Round Rock area, things that may differ from what you’re accustomed to in your water polo world.
- Of those three geographic areas, Austin is the newest to club water polo, though growing quickly.
- There are several clubs to choose from (more on AquaTex below), all of which feature training for youth and masters athletes. You can find all of us on USA Water Polo’s club search page.
- Clubs in our area tend to practice around four times a week. If you’re accustomed to six practices a week you won’t find that in Texas (yet).
- It is not at all uncommon for local clubs to train boys and girls together, and even mix age groups. As our numbers grow that happens less often.
- The same is true for competition: we very often field co-ed teams when and where necessary.
- AquaTex often partners with Longhorn to field teams at USA Water Polo tournaments. Combining athletes from different clubs to compete at tournaments is a very common practice in our area and throughout Texas.
- There is competition for athletes all year in Texas. The Southwest Zone hosts more tournaments per year than any other zone outside California. Tournaments are concentrated in Dallas and Houston with more taking place in San Antonio and Austin over time.
Okay, then: Why AquaTex?
We’re very proud of what our small, growing club has done in its short existence, and there are several things that we think distinguish us from others, and fit with the expectations of many who come to Central Texas.
First, we teach technical skills more than tactics. They produce athletes better prepared for a variety of water polo environments. Second, we want to prepare our athletes for whatever comes next, from varsity intercollegiate water polo to simply being the best high school graduates they can be. Development means helping the entire person, not just the water polo player. Finally, we love winning. But it’s not as important as learning. So we avoid shortcuts, winning at all costs, and preach what John Wooden did:
Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.
Intercollegiate Water Polo
While we aim to prepare our athletes for their best life after high school whatever that means for them, among our greatest points of pride is helping them become intercollegiate water polo players. More AquaTex athletes than those of any other Central Texas club have played or are playing NCAA water polo. And there will be more…
With our emphases on technical skills and playing intercollegiate water polo we have and seek a coaching staff geared toward those ends. No other Central Texas coaching staff has more experience with NCAA intercollegiate programs – Austin College, Villanova, UC Irvine, Fordham, and UC San Diego, Loyola Marymount University – than ours. Plus, deep experience with USA Water Polo’s Olympic Development Program, links with some of the strongest European coaches and teams, and experience at some of America’s best high school and club teams, is what makes our small club so unique.
As a development program we seek and are lucky to have athletes from all over our region including Austin, Belton, Leander, Lakeway, Pflugerville and, of course, Round Rock. All of our growth has been organic and our aim since 2013 has been to create a culture based on local families. We have an agreement with our friends at Longhorn to combine athletes when necessary to field competitive teams. But we purposely avoid partnerships of convenience with any other club from Texas or anywhere else. Our athletes are the focus of our attention.
We love Micki Krebsbach! Round Rock’s best facility is also one of the most well-known in Central Texas for aquatics. A swim mecca, it has more recently become host to high school regional water polo championships, local USA Water Polo game days, and Olympic Development Program clinics. We love being outdoors year round (yes, heated in the winter!) and our 25 yard all-deep course, where most of our training takes place. Plus an additional five lanes of 20-yard shallow lanes for Swim2Score and other conditioning. And, since we’re outdoors and on a high school campus, easy and plentiful parking!
What about high school water polo?
We love high school water polo and nearly every one of our 18u athletes is a member of one of the local high school programs. But high school water polo in Texas is in flux, and for good reason. Since 1972 it has been a high school club sport. In the fall of 2022 it began its first ever season sanctioned by the UIL (Texas’ version of the CIF or IHSA – the state’s official prep sport sanctioning body). So for newcomers to our area there may be some things unfamiliar with how things work at the high school level. Hopefully we’ll address some here after hearing from many families new to the area:
High school water polo in Central Texas is the youngest and, frankly, weakest of the four major regions in the state. There’s a lot of history here, mainly in San Antonio. But to keep things short, it really only kicked off in the Austin area around 2010. Given our relative youth we’re very proud of the progress we’ve made, but there’s still work to be done – perhaps with your help.
The season is relatively short, starting the first week of August and culminating in a state championship the last week of October. High school teams may get 20 or more games per season in that period.
High school coaches are “on campus.” Our Californian friends are accustomed to high school coaches who are not required to be teachers or employees of the district where they coach. That pretty much doesn’t happen in Texas. So it’s just short of impossible that your high school coach will be the same as your club coach unless he or she teaches at your school or works at the district. And for those interested in coaching keep that in mind: you basically cannot coach high school water polo unless you are an employee of the school or district.
Given all that, you’ll understand that nearly every one of the best players in our region and throughout the state are very active club players. So we won’t recommend any one high school over another (we’ve been asked). Rather, we’d argue that even more so than in California, Illinois, or elsewhere, it’s the club that matters far more than the high school if you’re looking for how and where to develop.