After 30 years of involvement in water polo as an athlete, coach, referee, and administrator, Dan Sharadin came to the conclusion there had to be a better way. Membership fees through the National Governing Body were escalating and benefits decreasing. Coaches who were the lifeblood of the sport were treated as a revenue stream rather than valued partners. In 2003 Sharadin decided to try something entirely different and American Water Polo was born. In establishing the new organization, he wanted to pursue a different approach, making the individual member the total focus of the organization. The organization would be centered on two basic principles:
Principle #1 Coaches are valued partners of the organization
Principle #2 Membership satisfaction is the only focus of the organization
To ensure coaches understood the first principle was more than just a few nice words, AWP made a commitment to never charge their coaches for membership. Furthermore, every year the coaches would receive a nice reward for their willingness to share their time in order to help kids play the sport.
To address the second principle, AWP determined to provide a quality reward to every member, every year, as part of their membership. They knew that kids registering each season rarely understood where their money was going when it came to discussions about overhead and insurance. AWP felt it was critical that each athlete received something for their membership fee. Since its inception, the organization as distributed tens of thousands of shirts, hats, water bottles, and visors as part of their membership rewards program.
This simple approach has proven extremely successful as membership satisfaction ranks extraordinarily high within the organization.
As AWP looks to the future, it plans to broaden its geographic base to other parts of the country, in addition to expanding its services to include coaching education.