2024 USA Water Polo Hall Of Fame Induction Class Announced

Courtesy: USA Water Polo

Irvine, CA – March 18, 2023 – USA Water Polo is proud to announce the 40th induction class for the USA Water Polo Hall of Fame. This year’s class once again showcases the best in water polo from Olympic legends to generational coaching talents at the club and high school levels.

Kiley Neushul, an Olympic gold medalist and three-time world champion is joined by her former Team USA coach, Chris Oeding. Oeding is a two-time Olympian and World Cup gold medalist who captained the 2000 US Olympic team in Sydney. Other coaching icons include Doug Peabody who has won more than 65 championships combined with club powerhouse San Diego Shores and high school juggernaut, The Bishops School. Ken Smith has spent the last 50 years amassing more than 600 wins at the Punahou School, cementing the program’s reputation as the best to ever play the sport in Hawaii.

Join us on June 7 at 11 a.m. Pacific time for the Hall of Fame Induction luncheon at the Doubletree by Hilton Claremont in Claremont, California. To purchase individual tickets or tables, click here. To learn more about the Hall of Fame, including a look at all the past inductees, click here. For lodging at the Doubletree, click here.

Congratulations to all the inductees!

More on the 2024 USA Water Polo Hall of Fame Induction Class:

Kiley Neushul
As a young girl, expectations were unbelievably high for Kiley Neushul. At age 12, the Santa Barbara native was already carving up defenses against women in their 20s. She seemed destined to win high school state championships, NCAA titles, Olympic medals, and more. And she did. In fact, as a tactician with precision on both offense and defense, she spent the next 10 years amassing every honor a water polo player could want – sometimes twice.

When Neushul anchored Dos Pueblos High School teams to win four straight CIF titles in the late 2000s, she was named section player of the year each year. On the club scene, Neushul’s Santa Barbara Water Polo Club (now Santa Barbara 805) won five Junior Olympics titles. It wasn’t long before she made her debut on the world stage. In the run-up to the 2012 London Olympics, Neushul trained with the US team that eventually won gold. In 2013, she claimed a gold of her own when she helped the US win the Junior World Championship title. During all that, she was also starting her college career at Stanford, where she made a staggering impact. She helped the Cardinal win three NCAA Championship titles in four seasons and bookended her career there with two Cutino Awards (in 2012 and 2015) for being the best player in the game. The victories didn’t stop there. On the senior national team, Neushul helped the US win gold at the 2015 World Championships in Kazan, Russia, and the 2016 Olympic gold in Rio. She helped the US win two more World Championship titles in 2017 and 2019.

Neushul’s victories weren’t only for the stars and stripes, as she also claimed one European League championship and three Spanish League titles while playing for C.N. Sabadell in Barcelona. Domestically, she also helped the New York Athletic Club win multiple titles.

Hailing from a family of water polo players including her parents, Cathy and Peter, and younger sisters  Jamie (a fellow Olympic champion in 2020) and Ryann (a current Olympic hopeful), water polo and the Neushuls simply go together.

Chris Oeding
One of the greatest male water polo athletes to emerge from tradition-rich Orange County, Chris Oeding has defined excellence for nearly 40 years as both a player and a coach at the highest levels. The 1988 CIF Player of the Year from Corona del Mar High School in Southern California was also a three-time All-American who guided the Sea Kings to two CIF Championships. From there, it was off to Northern California where he added a new chapter to the University of California-Berkeley’s storied history by helping the Golden Bears win three consecutive NCAA Championships and sharing Player of the Year honors in 1992.

Around the same time, Team USA selected him for the 1989 and 1991 junior national teams, the latter as a captain. Despite a shoulder injury that could have ended his career in 1993, Oeding played his first major tournament for the senior national team at the 1994 World Championships in Rome, Italy. That launched a seven-year run on the US men’s national team where Oeding competed in two Olympic Games (1996 and 2000) and was captain of the 1997 team that won World Cup gold in Athens, Greece.

As his playing career neared its finish, Oeding began coaching: first at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, then 20 miles northwest at Long Beach City College where he has been a fixture since 2000, guiding its water polo programs to six state championships. In 2013, he joined the staff of the US women’s national team as an assistant coach – a tenure that has spanned five World Championships and, soon, his third Olympics in Paris 2024.

Doug Peabody
It would be nearly impossible to imagine water polo in San Diego for the last four decades without thinking of Doug Peabody. From the years he played for Crawford High School under the legendary Hall of Fame coach Dick Draz to his time building championship-caliber high school and club programs, Peabody is deeply etched into the water polo lore of America’s Finest City.  Peabody has coached at every level in the San Diego area and beyond. He was an assistant head coach for the San Diego State women’s water polo team. He was the first-ever men’s USA cadet water polo coach. He also coached the US men’s junior national team to three consecutive Pan American Championship titles. In 2002, he was named Developmental Coach of the Year by the United States Olympic Committee. In 2018, he was USA Water Polo’s Legacy Award Winner.

Peabody’s legacy is also permanently tied to the extraordinary history of two programs: the San Diego Shores and The Bishop’s School in La Jolla, California. In 1992, Peabody founded the San Diego Shores, which has become one of the most successful age-group programs in USA Water Polo history. The Shores have claimed 35 national championships titles (including 22 at the Junior Olympics) and developed 450 athletes for college programs where many became captains, All-Americans and national champions. Some even reached the pinnacle of the sport, like 2012 Olympic champion Kelly Rulon and national-team mainstays like Alex Bowen, Brett Ormsby, Moriah Van Norman, and Gabby Stone.  At The Bishop’s School, Peabody has been leading the boys’ and girls’ water polo programs for the past 26 years, guiding them to 32 boys’ and girls’ San Diego CIF Championships – including the 2024 San Diego girls’ open division title.

Peabody also competed at the 1989 Maccabiah in Israel and, later, coached the US men’s and women’s teams to Maccabiah gold in 2013. Even now, he remains a fixture on the pool deck, coaching his children at both The Bishop’s School and the San Diego Shores.

Ken Smith
Competitive, fundamentally sound and kind: it’s the perfect recipe for the greatest water polo coach Hawaii has ever known. For more than 50 years, Ken Smith has been a mainstay at Punahou School building the boys’ and girls’ teams into the most dominant water polo programs in the 50th state.

Before he was a coach, Smith was a standout player at UCLA in the late 1960s. The two-time All-American started every game during his four years in Westwood when the team went 65-0. He stayed with the Bruins to launch his coaching career under the UCLA legend Bob Horn, and helped UCLA win the first NCAA Championship title in water polo, in 1969. From there, he ventured to Hawaii where he took over Punahou Aquatics, later known as Hawaiian Islands Water Polo. At the same time, he took on head coaching responsibilities for the Punahou boys’ team and started a run that included 39 league championships and 359 wins. In 1996, he launched the Punahou girls’ water polo program, amplifying the school’s dominance all the way to 15 state championships between 2006 and 2023 as well as 292 victories. Under Smith, both Punahou squads set the standard for excellence in Hawaii.

Smith’s influence radiated even further, however.

From 1988 to 2008, every US Olympic men’s water polo team featured at least one player that Smith had coached, including Chris Duplanty (1988, ’92, ’96), Sean Kern (2000) and Brandon Brooks (2004, ’08). Smith also mentored Olympic and Hall of Fame referee Aaron Chaney (2004, ’08). Many more of his proteges have become coaches, like Brooks (UCLA), Chaney (UC Santa Barbara), Maureen Cole (University of Hawaii) and Ikaika Aki (Loyola Marymount University), and Duplanty (assistant US coach at the 2000 Sydney Olympics).

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