The Auburn Water Polo Club was founded in 1995 and began with nine members. Soon after it’s formation, the team suffered a tragic loss when one of it’s founding members, Chris Young, was killed in a car accident in October, 1996. The following Spring, the first annual Chris Young Memorial Tournament was held in his honor. That same year, the team joined the Southeastern Collegiate Conference (SCC) under coach John Owens and began competing in Fall and Spring championship tournaments.
Three years later in 2000, Auburn won it’s first Chris Young Tournament over Florida in front of its largest ever crowd as fans leaving an Auburn basketball game at the coliseum filled the James E. Martin Aquatic Center. That same year, the SCC merged into the Southeastern Conference of the Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA), and Auburn followed, a move that Jonathan Dobkins would later describe as “The best move that this club has ever made
That following Fall in the team’s second year in the CWPA, Auburn changed coaches as former player Rick Smith took over. In his second year as coach, Auburn fielded what would arguably be the best team to date for the Fall 2002 season. Unfortunately, the team failed to win the Conference championship and its first trip to nationals when it lost to Georgia Tech on a controversial goal which was allowed in the last minute. Auburn’s lack of offense in the game (only three goals) Goalie Terrence Serna attributed to the fact that “our top three offensive players didn’t show up to play.” Auburn rebounded from this defeat in the spring however by capturing their second Chris Young title. The team avenged its loss that Fall by overpowering Georgia Tech in the championship game (11-5) through the deployment of a double-hole offense. A few weeks later, Auburn won it’s second tournament of the Spring by defeating Florida State in the championship game to capture the 2nd Annual Alabama Tournament in Tuscaloosa. Following the spring season, Smith stepped down to spend more time with his family, and the team was led by captain and goalie Eric Van Goethem. That Fall the team equaled its second place conference finish again losing to Georgia Tech in the championship game. In the Spring of 2004 one of the team’s biggest contributors and founding members, Jonathon Dobkins, graduated with his bachelor’s degree and his number eleven was retired to honor his eight years of service to the team.
The next two years the team was led by captains Kevin Clements (2004) and Jeff Davis (2005) and fell into the middle of the pack in the growing Southeastern Conference. Through the years, the team has traveled to tournaments from North Carolina to Florida and takes pride in the fact that in eleven years it has never lost to the University of Alabama.
The women’s team was founded three years after the men’s team in 1998. In the team’s third year of existence it joined the CWPA and managed a fourth place finish. The next few years were spent heading to various invitational tournaments around the Southeast before re-entering the CWPA for the Spring 2005 season. After this the team has left the CWPA electing for a more laid back approach and placed second in the Lady Vols Classic in the Fall of 2005. Currently, the girls play with the men's team in the CWPA and in various invitational tournaments.
More Recent History
Leading up to the 2009 season the team graduated a good deal of the core players that had played critical roles. Therefore, in the 2009 season it was essential for the team to recruit new players and rebuild. At the start of the 2010 season the team once again had a large group of players. This group consisted of mainly inexperienced players that were eager to learn and represent Auburn as the new faces of the team.