The University Interscholastic League (UIL) approved a pilot program to add water polo to its list of sanctioned high school sports, the first to be added in over 20 years. The UIL Legislative Council voted in favor of it on Monday after the Policy Committee approved it at their Sunday meeting. The sport is the first new one to be sanctioned by the UIL since wrestling was added in 1998.
The move ends eight years of concentrated effort and decades of behind-the-scenes work by swim and water polo coaches to achieve official recognition for the sport, which first held a club state championship in 1972.
Survey data presented to the board indicated that more than 200 schools would field one or more programs “if [the] UIL sanctioned Water Polo…” Over 60% of the 200 6A superintendents who were surveyed responded positively to the question. Those responses were the strongest in favor of adding the sport since the annual survey was first administered in 2015.
Under the pilot plan, the first state championships for boys and girls would take place in the fall of 2021. The season would begin in August and culminate in October according to the Dallas Morning News. One simplified 6A conference would be created with schools from smaller conferences invited to “play up.” Questions remain about how participating schools would be assigned regionally, and how referees are to be organized.
With few exceptions the Texas Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association (TISCA) has managed the prep club sport for several decades. A group of Houston high schools splintered from TISCA Water Polo in 2007 but re-joined within a few years. San Antonio teams have competed separately in their own fall league since 2013. As of the spring of 2019 over 150 high schools fielded TISCA Water Polo-supported club teams.
This is a developing story. Check with TXWaterpolo.com as more details emerge.