From the Newport Harbor High School yearbook, 1970:
Sports are an expression of the community. In an area where the sea is ever present, it is natural that our students become familiar with the water and compete in its sporting activities from an early age. The very spearhead of Harbor’s great athletic tradition is its greatness in water polo.
When the NHHS Water Polo team captured the Boys CIF Title in 2021, Newport Harbor officially became the most successful water polo program in Southern Section history. Amazingly, it was also the first top division water polo championship won by a public school in 11 years.
This reflects a dramatic shift in the water polo landscape since the days when Coach Barnett’s Newport Harbor teams appeared in 16 CIF Finals in 18 years and won 10 championships. Over the last decade, private schools have utilized their outsized athletic budgets and unfair recruiting advantage to surge to the top of high school water polo, creating an uneven playing field that makes it extremely challenging for any public school to keep pace.
Fortunately, Newport Harbor Water Polo has something that these private schools cannot duplicate – an entire community where young athletes are deeply connected to the ocean and the water at an early age, where a tradition of aquatic excellence is part of the local DNA, and where families from a tightknit collection of neighborhoods, like Dover Shores, Newport Heights, Eastside Costa Mesa, Newport Shores, the Peninsula and Lido Isle, produce enough talented young men and women to compete head to head with private schools who draw their players from across an entire county.
And yet, while the Newport Water Polo talent pool continues to produce remarkable student-athletes, the fact remains that there is a significant gap in the financial realities between public and private schools. Increased funding for assistant coaches, athletic trainers and other resources is vital to keep pace with Newport’s toughest rivals. If you would like to support the program’s annual budget and ensure that NHHS Water Polo has what it needs to compete at the highest level and bring home more championships, please click the link below to learn about the levels of giving and the potential impact of your contributions.