EMMITSBURG, Md. (WDVM) – Mount St. Mary’s University has added a men’s and women’s water polo team to their varsity athletics program.

“Water polo has experienced tremendous growth in popularity over the past few years, including growth at the high school and club levels on the East Coast.,” said Mount St. Mary’s Director of Athletics, Lynne Robinson. “This is another great opportunity for us to give students a chance to further their education at the Mount and compete at the Division I level.”

Both teams will operate under NCAA jurisdiction as well receive guidance from the Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA).

“We are excited to hear the news that Mount St. Mary’s is adding men’s and women’s varsity water polo.” CWPA Commissioner Dan Sharadin said. “The sport has been growing recently on the collegiate level and the addition of their teams provides more opportunities for the many high school athletes looking to compete at the highest level. Their academic reputation provides a perfect fit for the typical water polo athlete and the other members of our conference and we look forward to giving them any assistance necessary to get their teams started.”

Alyssa Diacono will serve as the head coach of both the women’s and the men’s team.

“I am humbled and honored to be named the inaugural Men’s and Women’s Water Polo Coach at Mount St. Mary’s University!” Diacono said. “The Mount has a legacy of academic and athletic excellence that I’m excited to carry on.”

Diacono played water polo for San Diego State University where she was a two-time Association of Collegiate Water Polo Coaches (ACWPC) All-American, and was named SDSU’s Female Student-Athlete of the Year in 2017.

She also has professional experience, playing water polo internationally for the University of Western Australia Team, in Perth, Australia, and The Exiles Sports Club in Malta from 2017-2019.

Both teams are made up mostly of underclassman, who Diacono heavily recruited before the pandemic hit, and who committed to play at the Mount before ever stepping foot on campus.

“I started two weeks before we were all shelter-in-place,” said Diacono. “There’s a lot of kudos to my current teams. They really took a leap of faith and are trusting the process.”

In a normal year, the men’s team would compete in the fall, and the women’s team would compete in the spring, but this year, since the men couldn’t compete this fall due to the pandemic, there is a current tentative plan in place to have them compete in the spring with the women.