On June 1, a sold-out crowd of 1,500 gathered at the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center to watch the United States Olympic men’s water polo team compete against the Croatian National Men’s water polo team in an exhibition game. The U.S. team, considered a gold medal contender, played its last game in the United States before departing to London for the Games of the XXX Olympiad. The center, which hosted the U.S. synchronized swimming trials in 1992, the U.S. Olympic swim team in 2000 and the U.S. Olympic dive team in 2008, welcomed the U.S. Olympic water polo team for the first time.
“Hosting the event was an incredible experience,” said Kurt Knop, RBAC executive director. “Everyone wanted to be a part of the action – everyone wanted to help. It truly spread the Olympic spirit. We are very proud of our U.S. athletes and look forward to watching them compete in London. We thank everyone in our community who supported this tremendous event.”
Festivities began with a crowd-pleasing appearance by Sam Eagle, the mascot for the 1984 Olympics held in Los Angeles. The audience rose to its feet to join Allison Crawford in singing both the Croatian National Anthem and the Star Spangled Banner.
The game was hard-fought, pitting the two accomplished teams in a fierce showdown with the U.S. coming out on top winning 9 to 5. Competing for the U.S. Team were Adam Wright, former RBAC 12U boys water polo coach and current UCLA men’s water polo head coach and Peter Hudnut, who received great support from his father and nephews who are La Cañada residents and patrons of the RBAC.
Don Brantley, announcer for 52 of the 57 water polo games in Beijing, provided colorful commentary, describing the official calls for many in the audience who did not know the rules of the sport.