BRIDGEPORT, Pa. — Our new segment “Meet the Staff” is designed to allow the water polo community to learn more about who comprises the Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) league staff. The second segment features Assistant Commissioner/CWPA Hall of Fame member Tom Tracey who discusses his involvement with the sport and role in the league structure. Keep checking back weekly as we feature the league staff over the next several weeks.
A 2014 CWPA Hall of Fame inductee, Tom Tracey returned to the league office in the Summer of 2016 following a previous stint as the league’s Director of Officials from May 1999 until June 2010.
Tracey is responsible for the daily oversight of office functions along with supervision and training of the majority of the league’s staff. In addition, he will oversee the league’s Officiating Bureau and Technical Committee, serve as the initial disciplinary review authority for incidents during the season, aid in membership growth and assist in scheduling the league’s varsity and collegiate club competition in 39 of the 48 contiguous states.
The Director of Membership and Development with American Water Polo (AWP) from January 2003-to-July 2011, Tracey most recently served as the Aquatics Coordinator (August 2011-to-July 2014) and Director of Aquatics and Non-Athletic Extracurricular Activities (July 2014-to-Present) at Wilson School District in West Lawn, Pennsylvania.
Hired as the Director of Aquatics at Wilson in August 2011, he was responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the natatorium, its adjacent areas, including the locker rooms, spectator seating, storage areas and filtration rooms. In addition, he completed the more traditional roles of an aquatics coordinator including pool scheduling, creating and developing a successful community swim program, supervising and directing of the natatorium staff – lifeguards and instructors, budgeting and conducting regular program evaluations as well as working with all aquatic coaches to ensure their programs have the greatest opportunity to succeed. Further, he worked with the Physical Education department to develop aquatic lesson plans that can be incorporated into the PE curriculum.
From May 2013 to June 2014, the position also involved overseeing the renovation of the natatorium on behalf of the school district so that the project moved forward in accordance with the timeline and budget set forth by the school board and to minimize interruptions during the school day.
Tracey was promoted to the position of Director of Aquatics and Non-Athletic Extracurricular Activities in July 2014. In addition to the duties associated with serving as the Director of Aquatics, he was also responsible for budgeting and conducting regular program evaluations for non-athletic extracurricular programs including but not limited to the music, theater, and academic club programs for the Wilson School District.
Prior to joining Wilson, Tracey worked from 2003 until his start date at Wilson with American Water Polo, a non-profit 501(c)3 membership based organization, whose primary focus is the provision of insurance coverage and competitive opportunities in water polo for teams at an affordable price. Overseeing and coordinating leagues and competitions around the country, as well as providing assistance for individual teams to do so independent of the national office, he was responsible for the retention and acquisition of members, overseeing the management of current customer relationships, helping to develop and implement strategic planning and the organization and running of national level events and local leagues for several states.
During his tenure with AWP, he raised membership to 3,225 members and 262 clubs in the span of eight years to help grow a Mid-Atlantic Region centered program into a national organization.
However, it was during his first tenure with the Collegiate Water Polo Association from May 1999 to June 2010 that Tracey had his greatest impact on the sport.
Serving as Director of Officials for the CWPA, the country’s second largest collegiate sports organization behind only the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), he coordinated the recruitment, education, assignment and evaluation of officials for the largest water polo conference in the country. Overseeing the management of over 120 collegiate officials hailing from 22 different states and the assignment of over 300 events and 2,500 games on an annual basis, he worked closely with the NCAA Coordinator of Water Polo Officials and the league’s officiating Technical Committee, to increase the quantity of quality referees on the collegiate level.
During his tenure, Tracey increased the officiating core from 54 (1998) to 123 referees (2010); created and maintained an on-line reporting program for officials to submit reports for payment, travel expenditures and reportable situations in a timely and consistent manner; and helped create an educational system with Dartfish.tv, now considered the preeminent video evaluation system in the sport, to increase the consistency and quality of referees.
He also gave back to the National Governing Body of the sport by serving as the Director of High School and Age Group Programming for United States Water Polo from May 1999-to-November 2002. His responsibilities with USA Water Polo included increasing membership numbers under the age of 18 from 17,016 (1998) to 28,651 (2002) through the development of new programs by lobbying high school principals, athletic directors, aquatic directors and swim coaches. Further, he was responsible for the increase of high school programs around the country from 725 (1998) to 991 (2002) and prompted three state associations to include water polo as a sanctioned high school sport.
A 1997 graduate of Villanova University in Villanova, Pa., with a Bachelor of Arts in English and a 1993 graduate of Germantown Academy in Fort Washington, Pa., Tracey began his professional career by serving as an Aquatic Intern and an assistant coach at Villanova from June 1997-to-April 1999. In addition, he worked as a volunteer assistant swimming coach with the Villanova Men’s & Women’s Varsity Swimming teams while competing and training for the 2000 Olympic Swimming Trials.
Outside the collegiate realm, he gave back to a variety of organizations in the high school and amateur athletics ranks. Since 2011 he has held administrative responsibilities, such as the development of schedules for all Pennsylvania public school water polo programs as well as overseeing the state’s middle school competitive opportunities, with the Pennsylvania Scholastic Water Polo Association. Further, he served as the head coach of the Wilson High School Varsity Girls Water Polo water polo program with primary responsibilities focusing on schedule development, organization of practice structures and the overall development of the program that includes teaching the Six Pillars of Character: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship.
During his tenure at Wilson, he also served as a head coach for the Kingfish Water Polo Foundation, a non-profit water polo sports club program, offering competitive and educational opportunities for over 300 athletes ranging from 8 to 55 years of age as well as both genders.
For his athletic and professional success at the amateur, high school, collegiate varsity, collegiate club, club and National Governing body levels, he is a member of four Hall of Fames as the past inductee to the Germantown Academy, Villanova University Athletics and Villanova Swimming Hall of Fame member became the 25th inductee into the CWPA Hall of Fame in 2014. The youngest male inductee into the CWPA HOF at the time of his selection, he joins former referee Paul Barren as the only individuals inducted into the Hall of Fame for service to the organization for roles beyond those of a student-athlete or coach. Further, he became the first collegiate club player to garner honors as Tracey earned All-America honors as a member of the Villanova men’s water polo team under Sharadin.
Beyond his professional exploits, Tracey holds a position of prestige among East Coast and NCAA athletes of his generation as a consistent national championship contender in the sport of swimming.
Earlier in his career, he also served as an administrator and head coach for Greater Philadelphia Water Polo from 2000-to-2011. Another non-profit sports club program, Greater Philadelphia continues to offer competitive and educational opportunities for over 175 athletes ranging from 5 to 55 years of age as well as both genders.
One of the best swimmers in both Villanova and BIG East conference history, Tracey rewrote the record books and earned National recognition during his time as a member of the Wildcats’ swimming team from 1994 to 1997. A six-time Big East Champion, the current Villanova record-holder in seven events and a three-time Olympic Trial qualifier (1992, 1996, 2000), he was a five-time All-America recipient, including three times in the 100 Backstroke (1995, 1996, 1997) and once in both the 200 Backstroke (1997) and 400 Medley Relay (1996).
The 1997 NCAA Championships put Tracey and Villanova swimming on the map as he earned two top five finishes. In the 100 back, he finished with a time of 47.57 to earn third place in the event. He followed it up with a fifth place finish in the 200 back with a time of 1:44.40.
In addition to his achievements at the NCAA Championship, he notched record breaking performances at the BIG EAST Championships. In 1996, he shattered the BIG EAST meet record in the 100 back with a time of 47.81. His other individual BIG EAST win came in the same event a year earlier, 1995, with a time of 48.03.
Along with his individual championships, he contributed to four different relay teams that won BIG EAST Championships. In 1995, he swam the first leg of the 200 medley relay, which finished with a time of 1:31.64. The Wildcats also won the 400 medley relay from 1994 to 1996 as Tracey headed the team.
In his final season of 1997, he established school records in the 100 (47.44) and 200 (1:44.26) backstroke. In addition, he was also part of all five of the relay teams that have recorded the fastest times in school history. He swam the first leg in both the 200 and 400 medley relays and was the final swimmer in the 200, 400 and 800 free events that hold Villanova records.
He is the husband of Colleen Tracey and the father of two sons, Thomas F. Tracey V and Jameson Patrick Tracey.
Since its inception, the CWPA has grown in size to become the largest water polo conference and the second largest collegiate athletics organization in the country behind only the NCAA. Today over 80% of all collegiate contests are played under the auspices of the CWPA.