Dan Christy has a season of water polo to coach with the Lodi High boys team.
But before he gets started with that, he has a season of water polo to finish at the FINA (International Swimming Federation) Masters 60-65 Water Polo Championships in Gwangju, South Korea.
Christy, 62, is a member of the Santa Barbara Silver Surfers club team, which qualified to the FINA Masters Championships with a second-place finish at the USA Water Polo National Championships.
The Silver Surfers have started the FINA tournament with three straight wins over Calgary, Canada, Perth, Australia, and an Argentina team on Tuesday.
“Today we had a tough game, the hardest yet,” Christy said about the Argentina squad. “We started out with Calgary, beat them 19-1, pretty handily, then we beat Perth 10-2 yesterday in a good, physical game, and the score didn’t indicate how competitive it was. Today we played an Argentina team. We were tied at halftime, and ended up beating them 9-4.”
Between games, Christy and his wife Janis have been taking in the sights and sounds that Gwangju has to offer — food trucks, restaurants, temples, parks, and monuments.
“The people are very accommodating. When we were in Seoul, we got to do some touring, and see some temples,” Dan said. “It was very interesting. Our hotel is downtown, and it’s a very hopping area — a lot of restaurants, a lot of taxis, a lot of traffic. After the first few days, we settled in.”
There was one big surprise in South Korea — the Christies ran into 2003 Lodi High graduate Stacy Werner, who was a collegiate All-American in water polo at San Diego State and is now playing for the San Diego Shores in the 30-35 women’s division.
Dan said the Silver Surfers team was founded by members who were part of another Santa Barbara team made up of former NCAA champions.
“As we get older, they invited a few outside players in, and those players decided to break off,” Christy said about the formation of what he called Santa Barbara’s B Team. “Two years ago we ended up beating the A team, and we beat them this year at the nationals. I call us a renegade team.”
There’s a few familiar faces for Christy — a former University of the Pacific teammate, Kit Fulmer, is also on the team, along with Pacific’s Jeff Bergman, who wasn’t able to make the trip to South Korea but played in the national championship.
“There’s about six of us that get together and play every other week in San Jose, scrimmaging against other teams — usually younger teams,” he said. “We have a couple of Australians on our team, and the week before we came here we went to Australia and played a game a day to get ready.”
Christy said a key member of the team is goalkeeper Steve Hammond, who was on the Olympic team for the 1980 Moscow games, which the U.S. boycotted.
“He’s a wall, Christy said. “He’s nice to have on our side.”
Christy hasn’t been a life-long water polo player. He was an All-American in swimming at Lodi High and played on the water polo team, then went to Pacific mostly for the swimming, and also played water polo. After that, he didn’t play competitive water polo for 20 years.
“In 1995 I started coaching at Lodi High, and really learned the game through coaching, and started getting together with friends,” he said. “I actually got my eardrum broken about four years ago and took a couple of years off, then my former teammates called and said they were forming this team.”
Christy's Santa Barbara team will play Germany at 11 a.m. South Korea time today (that’s 7 p.m. in Lodi), and will play Spain at the same time on Thursday. The championship game will be Friday, with the time to be determined.
Games can be live streamed on www.youtube.com from the FINA account.