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Women's Water Polo - Mon, Jun. 5, 2017

ROHNERT PARK, Calif. – The Western Water Polo Association (WWPA) has added McKendree University as a member to its women's water polo conference, raising the number of teams in the league to eight for the 2017-18 academic year, it was announced by WWPA commissioner Christy Sicard on Monday.

"We are pleased, and we are proud to welcome McKendree University women's water polo to the family of the Western Water Polo Association," said Sicard.  "In McKendree, we have added an institution with a strong academic reputation and athletic tradition."

"They are committed to the conference's vision of strengthening our community to create more opportunity and healthy competition at the Division II level," Sicard explained.  "We look forward to having the Bearcats join us for next season."

As a program, McKendree recently wrapped up its inaugural season this past spring, competing as a club in the Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) Midwest Division, going 9-16 overall.  Led by interim head coach Colleen Lischwe, the Bearcats will compete at the NCAA varsity level for the first time this upcoming season.

"This is outstanding news for our women's water polo program," said Chuck Breuggeman, Director of Athletics at McKendree. "When we revealed our intentions to advance our water polo programs to NCAA status, our goal was to align ourselves with a top-tier conference that shared our aspirations of competing for national championships on a yearly basis. The Western Water Polo Association jumped out to us in that respect, as the league boasts some of the top programs across NCAA Division II. McKendree is honored to become their newest member and we look forward to a long and productive partnership."

"We are thrilled to enter the 2017-18 year as an NCAA program and the newest member of the WWPA," said Colleen Lischwe, Interim Women's Water Polo Head Coach at McKendree. "I expect this transition to elevate our level of play as a team to expose us to some high-caliber competition. The WWPA is traditionally a very strong conference and we look forward to the challenge as we compete against many of the nation's top programs. We are certain to grow as a team as members of the WWPA and I look forward to taking McKendree women's water polo to a higher level."

Located in Lebanon, Ill., 25 miles east of St. Louis, Mo., the athletic department at McKendree sponsors 34 intercollegiate sports, many of which compete at the NCAA Division II level in the Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC).

McKendree and Fresno Pacific University will join Cal State East Bay, Cal State Monterey Bay, Gannon, Mercyhurst, Sonoma State and UC San Diego to make up the eight members of the WWPA women's conference when the 2018 spring season gets underway.

The WWPA competes within the NCAA and qualifies for the NCAA's automatic bid to the National Collegiate Water Polo Championships for both the men (fall) and women (spring).  The WWPA features a championship tournament at the conclusion of both the men's and women's seasons, with the winner earning the league's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.  The Men's Championship normally runs the third weekend of November while the Women's Championship takes place the final weekend of April.

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