Dennerley using memories of the US to guide him to Olympic glory
Australian men’s water polo goalkeeper, Chester Hill’s Joel Dennerley, is set to line up in his first National League All Star game tomorrow in Canberra having missed out on the inaugural 2011 edition.
Dennerley, who will represent his beloved UNSW Wests Magpies at the All Star fixture, has spent the last four years playing polo in America building his reputation as one of college water polo’s greatest ever players.
Dennerley has not only won four NCAA championships and All-American selections, but he is the University of Southern California’s all-time saves leader as well as the 2011 National Player of Year, leaving him as one of USC's most decorated stars.
Now, as the 24-year-old eyes off a berth in the Aussie Sharks 2012 London Olympic squad, the star keeper has taken time to reflect on what has been a whirlwind adventure as he searches for more glory in the next few months.
“It certainly has been a great experience for me,” Dennerley told AWPI.
“I have come away with a degree, I have definitely improved as a player, and to move my way into the national team in that time has been a huge step forward.
“If you go back a few years when I was at Sefton High and you’d ask me if thought I’d be where I am today, I would have said no.
“So to have been able to go to the states and now be on the cusp of Olympic selection is very exciting and quite rewarding.”
For Dennerley’s coach, Aussie Sharks mentor John Fox; Joel’s progression has been nothing short of amazing.
“It’s quite a feat for Joel and to consider he went to America as a junior and is now in line to be the number one goalkeeper at the London Olympics, it’s very impressive,” Fox said.
“On top of all that I think he is the first player to win four individual championship rings in the American college competition so it’s great that he has been able to fly the Aussie flag.”
Dennerley is currently one of four keepers in contention for two keeping spots on the London plane and with just over two months remaining until the squad is announced, is eager to keep the golden run going.
“Making the Olympics would mean realising a childhood dream,” Dennerley said.
“It would be an extremely great honour to represent my country at an Olympic Games, and obviously something I have been striving for my entire water polo career.
“I know it’s not going to be easy with three other great players pushing me all the way, but I just have to do everything in my power to continue being the best player I can be.”
Dennerley’s journey will continue tomorrow with the All Star fixture in Canberra. The concept, which divides the 12 National League clubs into two divisions, North and South, rewards the best players from the 2012 season with a host of Olympians, future stars and international players on show.
It will be one of the last opportunities our Aussie Olympic hopefuls have to impress the selectors, before the team heads to Asia and Europe for vital warm-up tournaments in May and June, and the final squad of 13 is announced on June 22.
The All Star night kicks off at the AIS Pool at 4.30pm with the women’s game, followed by the men’s at 6.30pm.
Dennerley's UNSW West Magpies are currently first in the league standings and can claim the club's first title since Dennerley was last at the club in 2008, with a win in the finals series which starts on April 26.