Meet The U.S. Men’s Olympic Water Polo Team
by Todd Kortemeier
Every member of the 13-player roster took part in the team’s run to the World League Super Final. Ten of them are holdovers from the team that won gold at the most recent Pan American Games in 2019, and five return from the 2016 Rio Games. U.S. men have never won a gold medal at the Olympic Games in official competition; the team’s lone gold came in 1904 when water polo was still a demonstration sport. The U.S. men have won three silver medals since, most recently in 2008.
Here’s a closer look at the team trying to bring home a historic first Olympic gold medal.
Alex Bowen shoots for goal during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on Aug. 8, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The 27-year-old Bowen developed his reputation as a scorer in college at Stanford, where he scored more than 200 goals. A member of the senior national team since 2013, Bowen made his Olympic debut in 2016, pitching in three goals. He currently plays professionally in Greece.
Luca Cupido shoots during Lima 2019 Pan American Games Aug. 10, 2019 in Lima, Peru.
Cupido has competed for Team USA since 2014, previously competing for his birth country of Italy. He made his Olympic debut in 2016. The 25-year-old was a four-time All-American at Cal and won a 2016 NCAA title. Known for scoring buzzer-beater goals, Cupido plays professionally in Italy.
Hannes Daube, attacker
Hannes Duabe shoots the ball during the 2019 FINA World Championship on July 17, 2019 in Gwangju, South Korea.
The youngest member of the team at 21, Daube currently attends USC, helping the Trojans to the 2018 national title as a freshman. Daube has been a consistent scorer for Team USA, chipping in 13 goals at the 2019 Pan American Games and 2019 world championships. He played the 2020-21 season with Olympiacos in Greece, scoring 42 goals.
Ben Hallock, center
Ben Hallock battles for the ball at the Maria Lenk Aquatics Centre on Aug. 6, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Hallock was one of the youngest members of the 2016 Olympic team and still is only 23. The Stanford alum was the 2018 and 2019 Cutino Award winner as the top player nationally. Hallock has been a big scorer for the U.S., adding 17 goals on the 2019 Pan American Games team, and plays professionally in Italy.
Drew Holland competes in the FINA World Championship on July 7, 2019 in Gwangju, South Korea.
Fresh out of the net for Team USA from the World League Super Final, where he made nine saves, Holland is the all-time saves leader at Stanford. The 26-year-old was a four-time All-American for the Cardinal and has played with the national team since 2017. He plays professionally in Greece.
Johnny Hooper, attacker
Johnny Hooper poses at the Team USA Tokyo 2020 Olympic shoot on Nov. 23, 2019 in West Hollywood, California.
Hooper led Team USA in goals at both the 2019 Pan American Games and world championships. The 24-year-old is one of the all-time leading goal scorers at Cal, where he was a four-time All-American and won a 2016 national championship. He currently plays professionally in Greece.
Max Irving, attacker
Max Irving during the Gwangju 2019 FINA World Championships on July 19, 2019 in Gwangju, South Korea.
A teammate of Daube’s with Olympiacos, Irving is fresh off a 43-goal season. The 26-year-old was a three-time All-American at UCLA, winning a national title in 2017. He scored nine goals at the 2019 Pan American Games and eight at the 2019 world championships.
Alex Obert, defender
Alex Obert shoots at the Maria Lenk Aquatics Centre on Aug. 6, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Obert made his senior national team debut in 2013 at the World League Super Final, and in 2016 made his Olympic debut. Obert was a three-time All-American at the University of the Pacific, winning a national title in 2013. The 29-year-old plays professionally in Croatia.
Jesse Smith, utility
Jesse Smith competes at the London 2012 Olympic Games on Aug. 12, 2012 in London.
The oldest member of the team at 38, Smith is its most experienced player and the only Olympic medalist. Smith made his Olympic debut at the 2004 Athens Games, and will make his fifth appearance in Tokyo, tying him with Tony Azevedo for the most in U.S. water polo history. Smith has played professionally across Europe since 2005.
Ben Stevenson, attacker
Ben Stevenson competes in the USA Water Polo Men's Senior Nationals on July 2, 2019 in Torrance, California.
One of the relative newcomers to the national team, Stevenson made his debut in 2018 at the FINA World Cup. A three-time All-American at the University of the Pacific, Stevenson hails from Reno, Nevada, and not a coastal area typical of the rest of the U.S. men’s team.
Alex Wolf, goalkeeper
Alex Wolf during the Division I Men's Water Polo Championship on Dec. 3, 2017 in Los Angeles.
The team’s goalie in their 2019 Pan American triumph, Wolf has been playing with the senior national team since 2017. The 6-foot-7 24-year-old was a standout at UCLA, where he won a 2017 NCAA title. He currently competes professionally in Greece.
Marko Vavic, attacker
Marko Vavic shoots the ball during the Division I Men's Water Polo Championship on Dec. 3, 2017 in Los Angeles.
One of the younger members of the team at 22, Vavic recently wrapped up his college career at USC where he was a 2018 national champion. Vavic has been on the national team since 2017 and plays professionally in Italy.
Dylan Woodhead competes in the USA Water Polo Men's Senior Nationals on July 2, 2019 in Torrance, California.
A standout for the Stanford Cardinal, Woodhead capped his college career in 2019 with a national title. Woodhead has played with the national team since 2018, when he made his debut at the FINA World Cup. Woodhead plays professionally in Greece.