A look at Cougar Water Polo through the ages: part two

A look at Cougar Water Polo through the ages: part two

Garrett Jaffe

This is the second of four articles interviewing four different generations of  Ventura Water Polo players ranging from 1980 to present.


Ventura Water Polo in 1990

Interview with Mark Schmidt

As the sport of water polo grew in popularity in our country, the Ventura Water Polo teams attracted well rounded athletes like Ventura Cougars’ own past Bulldog, Mark Schmidt, who enjoyed all sports but found water polo to be his favorite. Looking back on water polo through 1990, the sport continued its traditions of the intense Buena/Ventura rivalry and harmless hazing of freshmen players.

Schmidt, the water polo coach at VHS, was asked about his time playing water polo for its nemesis, the Buena Bulldogs and what the climate was like as a water polo player in 1990.  Like Mitch Dooley the 1982 MVP player, Schmidt choose water polo over his many other sports because of his sheer love of the game.

Garrett:  What made you want to play water polo?

Schmidt: I was always an athlete growing up. I played baseball, basketball, soccer and then did some club swimming when I was younger.  So when I tried water polo as a 7th grader in a summer program at Buena, I was invited by their assistant coach at the time to come out and play because my family knew him. I just fell in love with it fr

om the beginning. It was like the best of all worlds for sports for me. So, I knew then when I got to high school I would play water polo and I stayed with it and I swam in order to play water polo.

Garrett: What was your favorite part and do you have any good memories?

Schmidt: Ya know I think the favorite part was travelling with the team, being part of the team, the Buena Ventura rivalry became a pretty big part of it. Over the years that I was at Buena, we were real competitive. Buena had been really good for a long time and there were some coaching transitions during that time and we were really competitive with Ventura that whole time so those rivalries were some of my strongest memories.

Garrett: Was there hazing at that time?

Schmidt: There had been a few traditions, but it was kind of a transitional period  where it was really frowned upon. I saw a couple of seniors engage in some stuff that would be considered hazing but the but the biggest thing that we would do was to take a couple of the freshman on the back of the bus and make them sit with the seniors and stuff and just sort of mess with them. But it was during the age here we were transitioning to now where appropriately mind you that hazing is not tolerated in any way shape or form and rightly, so we always tried to be mindful of that and were well intentioned in terms of trying to torment the freshman a little bit but also be respectful and supportive.







Garrett: What years did you play? Where did you play? And How long have you coached?

Schmidt: I played at Buena from 1986-90. I played at Ventura College in 1990-92. I played at U.C. Santa Cruz from 1993-95 and then, I started coaching the summer after my senior year which would have been in 1990 and then, right after I graduated from college and I’ve been coaching water polo of some form or another ever since.