Tim Reed and the Washington Water
Polo Club put themselves and the Pacific Northwest in the national spotlight
this summer with a Silver medal at the Junior National Olympics in the 16&u
age group. The Midlakes Newswire staff caught up with a busy Tim Reed to
talk about this tremendous achievement.
Q: So Tim, how did you get
started in Water Polo?
I Started playing in 8th grade with friends at Hilltop middle
school in Chula Vista California. I really enjoyed the camaraderie, playing
summer league games and the travel to different locations around southern
Q: What was your road to the Northwest?
I continued playing in High School at Hilltop H.S., then played
some junior college polo and club polo in the southern California area,
mostly San Diego. I started coaching in 1987 for Hilltop H.S. and as an
assistant coach in Swimming. I then went to Crawford H.S. for a year and
became head coach of aquatics at Bonita Vista in San Diego for another 9
years where I coached boys and girls Water Polo and Swimming. I left
California for Washington in 1999 after one year at Grossmont Girls High
School. I then became aquatics director at Mercer Island Country Club and
head coach for the Mercer Island High School Boys Water Polo team.
Q: You moved to the Northwest
from the San Diego area in 1999. When you arrived what was your impression
of Northwest Water Polo?
The first time I saw kids play was at Seattle U. The Mercer
Island club team was working out there. They could pass, swim and shoot and
I thought they had some great athletes. Right after we moved here in late
July Midlakes Water Polo was just starting and I watched games at Mercerwood
Shore Club. I was amazed at the enthusiasm and competitive fire of the
parents and players for such a short season. I’ve witnessed this at Junior
Olympics or maybe CIF (State Championships) but not at a 4 week local summer
league. It was amazing. The level of play was more grass roots driven, with
a few great athletes on each team scoring and doing most of the work. In the
High School season, Games were played with the same enthusiasm of Midlakes
without the discipline I was used to seeing in California.
Q: What were some of your
early goals with your program at MIHS?
Our first goal was to build on the success of the State
Championship in 1998, which in our first year I failed at. Other goals
included better fundamentals, overall knowledge of the game and a structured
offensive and defensive attack which I believe we were successful at in
1999. Over the last 4 years this work paid off with 4 consecutive State
Championship titles. This did not come easy. Some great athletes did not get
to live up to their potential because of the restructuring and retooling of
the style of play. Team came before individuals, which a few of our athletes
had a tough time with. The structure of team over individual has maintained
success from year to year.
Q: How is it that Washington
Water Polo Club got started?
It was started as Mercer Island Aquatics (MIA, thanks to Katie
U.) in order for the High School athletes to play year round. All other
schools that I coached at in southern California played year round in order
to be competitive. The goal was to give athletes in the pacific northwest
the same opportunities that kids have in California. The club has been
through a few name changes. It quickly became apparent that the name was not
going to work when there were kids outside of Mercer Island that were
joining the club. We tried “Storm”, which someone pointed out to me was a
girls basketball team somewhere in Seattle. Not soon after this we became
“Washington Water Polo Club” since we figured that would cover most of our
For me personally it was a way to give back the same
experiences that I had as a kid. Playing year round and being able to travel
with friends and compete together in a sport we loved was a great way to
Q: How big is the program now?
We serve between 50 and 70 athletes throughout the year from age
6 to 18 with college alumni dropping in occasionally.
Q: What kind of events do you
attend throughout the year that other kids in the area would not?
Our goal as a club is to attend all national tournaments
including: Speedo Cup (8th grade and under), 20&under mens and
womens nationals as well as the Junior Olympics.
Q: The buzz around the
Midlakes League is that Washington Water Polo Club put the Northwest on the
map nationally for the first time in history. Could you share with us the
road to the Silver medal at the Junior National Olympics? How did you and
the kids achieve this incredible feat?
It’s been 5 years in the making with athletes and families making
the sacrifices and commitment in order for us to travel, compete and train
for this level of competition. We were very lucky to have athletes from
Bainbridge, Bellevue, Newport and Mercer Island come together in pursuit of
a common goal. Starting in December we set our sites on the possibility of a
medal. Through hard work, commitment, morning swims, weight lifting and
discipline toward a common goal the athletes received the reward of a silver
Q: Did the team really believe
they could medal as they prepared?
It was hard for them to believe it would be possible with a 32nd
place finish last year and their limited knowledge of national level Water
Polo. To their credit they bought into what I was selling. With a Midlakes
level of enthusiasm, great athletic ability and the faith to share in the
dream of medal round games they extinguished all doubt.
Q: How did the tournament
unfold for them?
We did get a great seeding being in a bracket of only two teams
starting out with a great game against LA Water Polo Club. We lost, but
executed our game plan well and saw it as a success. We lost 3 games total
out of a total of 7. We were pretty down after our Carlsbad loss and thought
the dream might be over, but with common opponent seeding we advanced higher
out of the bracket to put us against CHAWP which win or lose we would make
the medal round. The kids played beautifully against CHAWP with the attitude
that there was nothing to lose and everything to gain. The boys put on a
warrior like performance to advance to the Gold Medal round.
Q: I imagine the kids are very
proud of their accomplishments. Can you touch on some of the aspects of how
all of this is affecting their lives?
From start to finish the boys had great enthusiasm supporting
each other in the common goal of the team. I got to witness for the first
time the boys jumping up when goals were scored, fist pumping and that
unbridled Midlakes enthusiasm which I believe carried us through some of the
tougher times. My hope for their accomplishment would be that they learn
that if they work hard towards a goal that most anything can be
accomplished. Also that they become ambassadors for the sport and give back
some of the great feelings they got playing at this level. They have
definitely shined the light on the Northwest for other athletes as well as
themselves for higher level Water Polo opportunities.
Q: Many of these kids have
grown up playing Midlakes Water Polo summer league. What role has that
played in getting them to the level they are at today?
I think Midlakes exposes them to a sport they might not ever know
about or experience in a fun environment. It starts the obsession we call
Water Polo that each of these kids have.
Q: What can Midlakes do to
better prepare kids for High School and National level play?
Focus more on fundamentals through drills, practice and games
that the athletes will need at the High School and national level. It’s
difficult in a 4 week season but perhaps just picking a few skills to focus
on would help overall development. Midlakes does a great job in turning kids
on to the sport to see if they want to pursue high school and beyond.
Q: It’s great having you in
the northwest to benefit from your expertise in Water Polo and
congratulations on an incredible Silver Medal at the Junior Olympics.
Thanks to everyone that puts in the time and effort to make
Midlakes a reality. Keep up the great work in the sport we all love. In
parting, I’ve been told “Midlakes is life”.
"Yes, it certainly is Tim."
Interviewed by Tom Woods