Wolf Wigo

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“We want to win NCAA as soon as possible..... I think that history can repeat itself” [1]

Wolf Wigo (born May 8, 1973 in Abington, PA) is a renowned American water polo player and coach. He has played competitive water polo at the national level since age 13, was a four-year All-America collegiate player and led his Stanford University team to two NCAA Championships. A member of the U.S. National Team since 1993, Wigo competed in the Olympic Games in 1996, 2000 and 2004, was leading team scorer in the 2000 Sydney games and team captain from 2001-2004. Since 2005, he has been the head coach of the UC Santa Barbara men's water polo program. And starting in 2008 he will be coaching the UCSB women's team as well.

Early life[edit]

Wigo's parents were both swimmers so at an early age he and his sister would travel to the pool at the West Side Y in New York City and compete with the Gotham Aqua Kings. After success in swimming (he was named “Swimmer of the Decade” at New York’s Bronx High School of Science), Wigo took up water polo because he enjoyed the team spirit and competition. He played on the St. Francis College Youth Water Polo Club in Brooklyn Heights, New York. By age 13, he was the youngest player on the New York Athletic Club team, earned back-to-back NYAC Utzinger Awards, and was a Prep All-American three years in a row. While still in high school, Wigo was a member of the only 17-and-under team from outside California to win the national Junior Olympics in water polo.

Stanford University[edit]

Wigo's college career was plagued by chronic back pain (degenerative discs) and he missed substantial parts of his sophomore and junior seasons at Stanford due to back problems, but still managed to earn All-America honors both years. Wolf Wigo scored 203 goals from 1991–94 and helped lead the Cardinal to two NCAA championships during his junior and senior seasons. He remains one of only 9 athletes in Stanford’s history to be named All America all four years. In 1995, along with swimmer Jenny Thompson, Wolf was named outstanding senior athlete. Wigo is a 1996 graduate of Stanford with a BA in Political Science.

Olympics and international play[edit]

Wigo was chosen for the United States National Water Polo team in 1993. In 1996, he became the first player from east of the Rockies to make the US Olympic team in water polo since 1956. Wigo competed in the Olympic Games in 1996, 2000 and 2004, and was team captain from 2001 to 2004. In 2000 at Sydney, Australia, he was the team's leading scorer with 16 goals. Wigo helped the U.S. Men's National Team win the 1997 FINA World Water Polo Championship. Between the 2000 and the 2004 Olympics Wolf was a star on the Ethnikos Piraeus team in Athens, Greece. Wigo is still active in USA Water Polo's Premier League, playing for the New York Athletic Club team. He netted 3 goals in the 2006 final game, notching a second consecutive Premier League championship for the NYAC.

Other distinctions include:

  • Top US scorer at 1995 (22 goals in 8 games) & 1993 World University Games.
  • Leading overall scorer in 1995 US Olympic festival.
  • Leading US scorer at 1993 Junior World Championships.

Coaching career[edit]

Wigo served as an assistant coach at Stanford in 1996, and again later in 2001 when the Cardinal won the NCAA Championship. He was head coach for the Saddleback El Toro Water Polo Club for two years, and became the UC Santa Barbara men's water polo coach in April 2005 and women's water polo in May 2008.[2] He is also now the director of the Santa Barbara Water Polo Club program. Wigo served as an analyst for NBC Sports coverage of Water polo at the 2008 Summer Olympics.[3]

Awards and honors[edit]

  • Two year winner of Utzinger Award, the prestigious citation from the NYAC.
  • Named to the Hall of Fame of the New York Athletic Club.
  • Four-year AWPCA All-American (1991, 1992, 1993, 1994).
  • 1994 NCAA Player of the Year and NCAA Tournament MVP.
  • American Water Polo Coaches Association National Scholar-Athlete.
  • Stanford University Biff Hoffman Award for the school's top senior male athlete.
  • Three-time USA Water Polo Male Athlete of the Year, (1999, 2000, and 2003).
  • First Team All-World by NBC Sports and USA Water Polo (2000).

Personal[edit]

  • His given name is Wolfgang, reportedly from a character in a James Fenimore Cooper novel.
  • After college, Wigo worked as an equity options trader at the Pacific Stock Exchange in San Francisco (1996–2000).[4] For most of the four years he made trades for Cole Roesler Capital Management until about 2:30 p.m., then went to either Stanford, or across the bay to Cal for his water polo workouts. Every Friday, he would head from the trading floor to the airport, fly south to train with the US National Team all weekend, then back home Sunday night.
  • Wolf and his wife Barbara have a daughter, Athena, born during the Athens 2004 Olympic games.
  • His father, Bruce Wigo, is the former executive director of US Water Polo, and now CEO of the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Ft Lauderdale, Florida.
  • Drac and Janson, Wolf's younger brothers, have signed national letters of intent to play water polo at Stanford in Fall 2006. The Wigo twins played for Northeast High School in Oakland Park, Florida, reaching the Florida state championship game in 2004 and helping Northeast win the state title in 2005 and 2006.
  • In December 1998, Wigo was in his father's backyard pool trying to win a bet with his 12-year-old twin brothers that he couldn't swim 20 laps underwater. He blacked out from lack of oxygen—because he hyperventilated too much before he got into the water. His father dived in, pulled him out and performed CPR, saving his life.[5]
  • Wigo's mother, Dawn Young, an actress and filmmaker in New York City,[6] made him the subject of a 2004 award-winning documentary, Beneath The Surface,[7] about his rise in the water polo world to compete in three Olympics.

External links[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ April 2005 quote
  2. ^ UCSD Coaching Appointment
  3. ^ Medium Well: Your NBC Olympics lineup - A blog on sports media, news and networks - baltimoresun.com
  4. ^ sfgate.com(2000): Wolf Wigo
  5. ^ Bruce Wigo: The Dangers of Underwater Swimming are Real (ASCA Online)
  6. ^ Dawn Young's website
  7. ^ Beneath the Surface website