Forget football–real fans follow club sports. Bwog freelancer (and water polo team member) Jason Patinkin reports. 

jjColumbia’s big-name varsity teams, despite a little help from their friends, are still bottom-feeders in the world of collegiate athletics.  But for perhaps the highest  talent-to-cash ratio,  check out the in the truly underfunded and actively neglected realm of Club Sports, many of which thrive in the face of athletic director M. Dianne Murphy’s attempts to brush them to the side.  Case in point:  Water Polo. 

Led by New York Division Coach of the Year Igor Samardzija, CU Water Polo has had quite a season so far, with an  undefeated showing at the United States Military Academy (where last year they shocked the Black Knights in the finals to win Columbia’s first Regional Championship and a Nationals berth).  They also discovered the real truth behind the truth behind the truth about the Acadamies, which has something to do with a room next to the pool with darkened windows called “COMBAT WATER SURVIVAL SWIM LAB.”

Anyways, the USMA tournament showcased some of the new talent on the CU team, including that of freshman phenom Akhil Mehta and a cadre of reckless walk-on juniors, though it was the veterans who really took the lead.  Anchored by goaltenders Victor Fedorov and Prospero Herrera, CU Water Polo proved they’ve got the bite to fight it out in the pool.  Especially notable were captains Joe Matuk and co-captain Billy Martin, who earlier received Player of the Week honors for an impressive 18 goal performance at a September 29-30 tournament. 

The team heads to the New York Region Championship this weekend at Colgate University, seeded third behind Army and top-ranked NYU.  If you’re down for a long trek upstate (it’s near peak foliage!) you might just get to celebrate a Lion win.