Army officer coaches and motivates new Kansas State Water Polo team
November 21, 2008
By Lyndsey Born
Fort Riley, Kan. - At a young age, 2nd Lt. Samuel Greulich, 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, was afraid of water. His parents decided to put him in swimming lessons, and by second grade he was swimming competitively.
Greulich decided to start water polo when he began high school because it was another water sport but didn't conflict with his competitive swimming.
"Back in grade school I decided to start swimming competitively, and about the time I was going to high school I new where I was going to go," Greulich said. "The coach of the swim team there happened to be the coach of the water polo team. Swimming was a winter sport and water polo a fall sport, so I got started playing water polo because it was at the school by the same coach. I thought it would give me a little bit of a break from swimming."
Greulich continued both sports throughout high school, eventually becoming captain of the water polo team. He also made the All-State team for water polo and All-American team for swimming. At West Point, Greulich kept to the water.
"I had done both swimming and water polo in high school. When I got to college, I wasn't quite good enough to swim on the swim team. Besides, I had grown tired of swimming in the four years because I had swam competitively for a long time," Greulich said.
In college, Greulich said water polo was a way for him to get away from the stress of academics.
"When I went to West Point I was probably as good as a swimmer as you could be without making the team," Greulich said. "I was an All-American back in high school but only on relay's. My individual times weren't good enough, which I think was good because I didn't really have to wonder one way of the other because maybe I should do swimming ... and water polo was a really great outlet at West Point."
After graduation, Greulich found ways to stay involved with the sport. When he found out he was going to be stationed at Fort Riley he did some research to see if he would be able to stay connected to the sport in some way. Greulich found his answer in the newly formed Kansas State University water polo team.
"Originally I was looking for something I could play for, I was hoping there was some type of master's club program, that kind of thing," he said. "What I did end up finding was Kansas State was just starting up a team, and they just started it last year, and this is the first year that they have been competitive."
Greulich started coaching the team in May 2008 just before they left for summer vacation. When they came back to school, they began preparing for the year's competitions.
Although Greulich works with the team as a coach, it is not an official position because the team is considered a club sport.
"It's purely on a volunteer basis," Greulich said. "I go and help with the practices and come up with workouts for them and travel with them and run the bench during games, that sort of thing."
Being a Soldier occasionally interferes with coaching, but the players understand.
"They are really understanding about, the players themselves. Because I have no official position, I don't really have any administrative control over them," Greulich said. "Honestly the team is young enough that they are not getting anything out of it other than that fun of playing. There is no scholarship or anything like that, so it's fairly relaxed."
Greulich is set to deploy with his brigade during the next season.
"It has made me miss a few practices, and obviously my brigade is scheduled to deploy next fall, so depending on when that will actually happen, I can very well end up missing the brunt of the season, which will be unfortunate, but I think it will be just fine anyway," he said.
Despite the upcoming deployment, Greulich continues to work with the young team. After the first year of competing, the team took third in its division, he said.
"I am very proud. They won the semi-final game in sudden death overtime, and that was their first official win of the season so it was a good way to end the season," Greulich said.
If anyone is interested in helping with the team, Greulich said he is more than willing for them to join and they should contact him.
"The more interest they get, the better shot they have at growing as a program and getting that support that hopefully is going to lead to them establishing them to be a team," Greulich said.