680 Drivers place fourth nationwide in water polo | August 7, 2009 | Danville Express | DanvilleSanRamon.com |


Danville Express

Sports - August 7, 2009

680 Drivers place fourth nationwide in water polo

Championship 14U team open for new signups later this month

by Chuck Herrmann

Interstate 680 should mean more to residents in the Danville area than long drives and congested traffic jams. Now it stands for a competitive boys and girls water polo organization that's making a splash nationally.

The 680 Drivers was formed from the Danville Boulevards club and the East Bay Water Polo teams to create a water polo powerhouse.

"We have athletes from Benicia all the way to Livermore compete for us," said Matthew Mundelius, co-founder and head coach of the 14-and-under boys' squads.

The 680 Drivers 14U red team, made up of seventh- and eighth-graders, recently returned from the Junior Olympics held at Stanford with stats to make the Bay Area proud.

Coached by Mundelius, the team competed throughout the school year in National tournaments to better themselves and their chances at qualifying for the Junior Olympics. They earned two second-place finishes and one first-place finish.

With 48 total slots available in the 14U division, the 680 Drivers knew they needed strong fall, winter and spring seasons to earn one of the coveted eight Pacific Zone slots. This zone is one of 11 countrywide, and due to its population size was given eight slots of the 48.

The 680 Drivers were able to take not one of the bracket spots, but two, with the red team landing in the No. 1 spot in the Pacific Zone and the blue team in No. 6.

The team already had a 10th-place finish in last year's Junior Olympics but had lost a majority of its starters, so getting the No. 1 spot in the Pacific Division was incredible, said Mundelius.

"Losing all of those players and adding the younger guys did not slow us down one bit," he marveled.

What they went on to do, however, was absolutely amazing to all their fans.

The Junior Olympics broke up the 48 competing 14U teams into 16 brackets of three teams each. After those games were played, with the Drivers going 1-1, the undefeated teams went off to the platinum bracket for the top 24 squads, while the teams without wins were transferred to the gold bracket.

The club teams on the bubble, like the 680 Drivers, had to compete in a playoff game to determine their bracket. The Drivers red team was able to advance to the top 24 in what would be an epic rollercoaster ride for this young squad.

"We ended up playing the most games out of every team in the tournament. We had to keep fighting just to stay alive in the extremely competitive Platinum bracket," said Mundelius.

The Drivers even had to square off against the No. 1 seed in the whole country- twice. They also were able to defeat the Lamorinda water polo squad, a rival Northern California team.

The 680 Drivers red club team finished in fourth place overall out of the 48 teams that competed, not to mention the other thousands of teams that could not qualify for the prestigious tournament.

"Fourth place was an incredible accomplishment and we are so proud," said Mundelius. "The way these young men stepped up and competed showed their true character and determination."

The 680 Drivers club teams are always looking for members. Boys and girls in the eighth grade and younger compete year around while their high school counterparts compete during the summer.

Fall registration for 14U begins in late August. The 680 Drivers offer introductory classes for those interested in learning the fast-paced game of water polo. For more details, visit http://680polo.d4sportsclub.com/.

Now 680 is more than a freeway, it's a championship caliber program building respectful competitors and Olympic futures.