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Four Long Beach Players, Coach Make USA Water Polo Olympic Team

The Long Beach connection with the USA Water Polo is deep, and extends back more than a century. There’s only been one Olympic men’s water polo team from the United States that didn’t feature a Long Beach native, and this Summer’s USA squad headed to Paris for the 2024 Olympics is upholding that tradition. The team’s roster was revealed earlier this week at a French restaurant in Los Angeles, and it features four Long Beach natives, as well as a Long Beach assistant coach.

The players are Wilson alum and two-time Olympian Max irving, two-time Olympian Hannes Daube, and two first-timers: Ryder and Chase Dodd, who figure to be among the team’s bigger stories this year. They’re the first brothers to make the team together in 36 years, and Ryder will be the youngest player in team history to play in an Olympics, breaking a record set by Long Beach legend and USA Water Polo GOAT Tony Azevedo.

Irving said that he and his fellow Long Beach teammates were excited to represent their city as well as their country in Paris.

“It’s an absolute honor,” he said. “Long Beach has such a rich aquatic tradition and then even more so a rich Olympic tradition. We’ve got a ton of high-level athletes who’ve come from Long Beach. To be able to contribute to that legacy and that tradition is something I take a lot of pride in.”

Irving was a CIF-SS champion and an All-American at Wilson High, but the three other Long Beach natives on the team attended high school in Orange County. Daube, who will be a returning attacker alongside Irving, played at Shore Aquatics before attending high school at Orange Lutheran.

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The Dodd brothers grew up in East Long Beach but played their high school water polo at Huntington Beach High and JSerra. For older brother Chase Dodd, now two years into a UCLA career where he’s playing for Wilson alum and Olympian Adam Wright, making the Olympic team with his little brother is a dream come true.

“Having my little brother on the team is the best thing you could ever hope for,” he said. “Words can’t really describe it. I have faith in him, he has faith in me. It’s always been my dream to go to the Olympics and to do it with him makes it that much sweeter.”

Dodd established he and his brother’s Long Beach credentials and said they’re proud to represent the city.

“We’ve grown up all around Long Beach, we’ve been at Blair Field all our lives, spent a ton of time in Naples, and we actually started water polo at Shore Aquatics back when they had practice at the Long Beach Yacht Club and at Long Beach State,” he said. “Long Beach is a powerhouse with all our past Olympians, with Tony Azevedo, with Adam Wright, and having four guys on the team this year. It’s cool to be in that tradition.”

Ryder Dodd, Chase’s little brother, will be one of the United States’ wunderkinds this Summer, playing in his first Olympics at just 18 years old, having graduated from JSerra just a few months prior. Ryder will also matriculate to UCLA to play alongside his older brother under Wright.

The four Olympians from the city in the pool will be joined by another on the pooldeck, as Long Beach State water polo coach Gavin Arroyo will be an assistant coach under head coach Dejan Udovicic. Arroyo has had a successful career coaching at the Beach, and will be trying to help lead the USA team to a historic finish in Paris.

The Americans haven’t won a medal at an Olympics since the Beijing games in 2008 (when there were five Long Beach players on the roster), where they took home silver, matching the program’s best finishes at the 1984 and 1988 Olympics. 

This year’s team wants to make history as the first to bring home a gold medal. Udovicic said that this year’s squad has been very committed to the sport, with the returners all playing overseas in pro leagues in Europe. The Dodds have been in high school and college, but both Irving and Daube were among the veterans to play overseas, which Udovicic said he thinks will make a huge difference.

“What I’m most proud of is that this group changed the culture and approach for how to achieve high-level performance,” said Udovicic. 

The team has some tune-up games against Italy and Spain in San Diego and Northern California before departing for Paris. The Olympics are scheduled for July 26-August 11. on X (formerly Twitter): “There was a lot of Long Beach in the building as @USAWP announced its 2024 Men’s Olympic Team roster this morning in LA.Hear from head coach Dejan Udovicic & captain Ben Hallock as they discuss this year’s group. We’ll be keeping a close eye on this team all summer! 🇺🇸 / X”

There was a lot of Long Beach in the building as @USAWP announced its 2024 Men’s Olympic Team roster this morning in LA.Hear from head coach Dejan Udovicic & captain Ben Hallock as they discuss this year’s group. We’ll be keeping a close eye on this team all summer!

Mike Guardabascio
An LBC native, Mike Guardabascio has been covering Long Beach sports professionally for 13 years, with his work published in dozens of Southern California magazines and newspapers. He's won numerous awards for his writing as well as the CIF Southern Section’s Champion For Character Award, and is the author of three books about Long Beach history.