USA Water Polo Board Chairman Michael Graff has announced the addition of three new members to the National Governing Body’s Board of Directors. Four-time Olympic medalist and 2012 Olympic Champion Brenda Villa, 2008 Olympic Silver Medalist Peter Varellas, and veteran financial analyst Walt Price bring pivotal experience to the board both in and out of the water polo pool. Villa and Varellas will serve as athlete representatives while Price assumes the role of director.
“We are very pleased to welcome three new board members to the USA Water Polo board. Brenda and Peter are not only very accomplished Olympians, but have also gained valuable business experience since their retirement from competition. Walt Price has been a major supporter of our programs, and brings valuable business and financial expertise to the Board,” said Graff.
Villa and Varellas join current board member Jessica Steffens as Athlete Advisory Council (AAC) selections voted onto the board by their fellow athlete peers.
Considered one of the greatest women’s water polo players of all-time, Brenda Villa led Team USA to medals in four different Olympic games culminating with gold at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. The longtime captain of Team USA, Villa helped bridge the gap from the pioneer era of women’s water polo prior to inclusion in the Olympic Games to the present-day success that has seen consecutive Olympic titles.
Hailing from the largely Hispanic community of Commerce, CA, Villa played high school water polo with the boys before girl’s water polo was widely available and became the first person from her high school (Bell Gardens) to attend Stanford University. An NCAA Champion while at Stanford there isn’t an area of water polo where Villa hasn’t succeeded. Named FINA’s Player of the Decade at the end of the 2000s, Villa was also recognized as the Pac-12 Conference Women’s Water Polo Player of the Century in 2016.
Since her retirement from International water polo, following the 2012 Olympic Games, Villa has pursued another passion, giving back. At the helm of Project 2020, a non-profit organization committed to providing aquatic opportunities for those in under-privileged communities, Villa has helped pave a road for the next generation’s involvement in the game of water polo. Working within the Northern California community of East Palo Alto and East Menlo Park, Villa paired high school coaching with Project 2020 efforts hoping to mirror the offerings she received as a youth where sports were available regardless of financial status.
As of late Villa added an additional focus on the promotion of female athletics overall, joining the athlete advisory board of the Women’s Sports Foundation. She is also a member of the U.A.N.A executive committee, where she is the liaison for water polo in the Americas.
A sharp shooting left-handed attacker on two U.S. Olympic Men’s Water Polo Teams (2008 and 2012), Peter Varellas was a catalyst in helping Team USA back to the podium for the first time in 20 years with a silver medal effort at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. As an undergraduate at Stanford University, Varellas helped the Cardinal to an NCAA Championship before beginning his international playing career with Rari Nantes Savona in Italy. After his time representing the USA, Peter returned to the Stanford Graduate School of Business to earn his MBA.
Away from the pool Varellas entered the professional world and currently serves as a Case Team Leader in San Francisco for Bain & Company, a global management consulting firm. He remains active in the game, participating in Open and Masters level water polo as a member of the Olympic Club.
As a Certified Financial Advisor, Walt Price, Jr. has built a long career successfully managing a variety of funds for a host of clients over the last 40 plus years. Currently he serves as Managing Director, Senior Analyst and Senior Portfolio Manager at Allianz Global Investors U.S. LLC. Prior to his time with Allianz, Price served key roles at RCM Capital Management LLC and Colonial Management. A graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Price holds an MS and BS in Management from the Sloan School at M.I.T. He also earned a BS with Honors in Electrical Engineering from M.I.T. No stranger to the athletic arena, Price was a three-time letter winner on the wrestling team and captain of the 1969-70 team.
Price is an active supporter of water polo and the Olympic movement. He was introduced to the game through his daughter Olivia who plays for the Diablo Water Polo Club of Northern California. She will compete for the Harvard University Water Polo Team starting in the Spring of 2018. Price’s son, Cameron, attends Cal State University, East Bay. Price and his wife Virginia reside in Lafayette, California.
About USA Water Polo
USA Water Polo, Inc. is the national governing body for water polo in America, overseeing our United States Olympic program as well as 20 different championship events annually, such as Junior Olympics and Masters National Championships. With more than 40,000 members, USAWP also is the sanctioning authority for more than 500 Member Clubs and more than 400 tournaments nationwide. USAWP is committed to the development of the sport throughout the U.S. It fosters grass-roots expansion of the sport, providing a national system of affiliated clubs, certified coaches and officials.
News courtesy of USA Water Polo.