The Notre Dame Women’s Water Polo team officially began in the Spring of 1995. Up until that point there were always a couple of women who played on the men’s club team. In the Spring of 1995 a group of women led by Mary Sundy and Brigid Fitzpatrick informed the men’s team captains that they wanted to compete against other women’s teams. Then men’s captains Donald Balhoff, Eric Shultz and Brian Coughlin informed them that if they got at least nine women to practice for the next few weeks they would assist the women in finding a tournament. The women were motivated and got at least 12 women to attend practice for the next month. The men were true to their word and help to arrange a four team tournament at Bowling Green State University which the Notre Dame women attended and won. The next year that group of four expanded to 6 and formed the first ever women’s club conference (the Midwest Division) in the Collegiate Water Polo Association. Pages 2-5 of the CWPA Media Guide has a good history of the organization: http://static.psbin.com/5/8/4drq80eub09gvt/2015WomenMediaGuide.pdf
You will see that the Men’s team blazed a trail for Men’s Club teams and the Women’s Club did the same for Women’s clubs.
The CWPA Women’s season begins in late January of the spring semester and concludes with a National Championship Tournament the first weekend of Mary. We don’t have a great deal of history for the 96, 97 and 98 seasons. We know that the team did not place in the top two in the CWPA Midwest Division in 96 and finished 2nd in 97. The Division did not conduct championships in 1998. In 1998-’99 we won our first CWPA Midwest Championship. We beat Miami, OH to win it in Oxford, and there were no Nationals, they would begin in 2001. Team captains were Erin Fitzgerald and Jen Beranek. Brian Coughlin returned to the University as a residence hall rector. The team asked Coughlin to serve as their volunteer coach. He agreed. 1999 was Coughlin’s first year as coach and he has held the role as a volunteer ever since.
Since 1999, head coach Brian Coughlin has been keeping stats and season recaps. Whether you’re a fan, alum or family member of a player, please feel free to go down memory lane by clicking the seasons to the left beneath the “Team History” page. Enjoy!