Paragon Awards                           Presented By

Barbara Kalbus (USA)

USA Water Polo President

2016 Paragon Award / Water Polo


Dr. Barbara Kalbus never played the sport of water polo a day in her life, but during her lifetime, she was one the most influential and respected persons in the sport.


Originally from Wisconsin, Dr. Barbara Kalbus obtained her doctorate in biochemistry and botany. She first became involved with aquatics when her oldest son, Randy started swimming with the Phillips 66 Long Beach Aquatic Club in the early 1960s. As a volunteer she managed various aspects of both age group swimming and water polo programs and eventually became President of the Club. From 1969 through 1976 she also served on the Southern Pacific AAU Swimming Committee, in charge of time standards. Following the enactment of the Amateur Sports Act, in 1976, she was elected as US Water Polo’s first secretary and set up the organization’s first bylaws. She was also USWP’s first national registration chair. Although primarily a men’s sport at the time, she was appointed to serve on the Men’s International/Olympic committee in 1978 and was elected president of the USWP from 1980 to 1984. From 1985 through 1991 she served as Chair of the USWP Foundation. Beginning in the late 1970’s, she either wrote or helped to write grant requests, made arrangements for Olympic housing and tickets for Olympic parents and wives, organized events, made travel arrangements, handled insurance claims and correspondence not only for the organization, but for the coaches, managers and athletes as well. When she was the team manager for the U.S. Men’s Senior National Water Polo Team for the 1992 and 2004 Olympic Games, she did it all. Even when she wasn’t the manager, she was the right arm and invaluable resource for every administrator, US National Water Polo Team and Olympic Team Coach and Manager.


Beyond AAU and USA Water Polo, Barbara worked with the NCAA W/P and CIF (high school) Rules Committees from 1976 until 2014. She attended yearly meetings, worked with the editor of the Water Polo Rules Book to insure it was edited correctly, prepared rules revisions and proofs. She worked with NCAA & USWP to assist NCAA retention of Water Polo. She organized and ran the desk at approximately the last ten NCAA Water Polo Championships. Barbara prepared the master schedule of NCAA water polo each fall and prepared and distributed statistics of team comparative standings each week during fall season.


Barbara was also one of the most respected and experienced desk officials in the world. In her later years she was a fixture at Newport Harbor water polo games, where she would supervise the kids working the desk.


She was inducted into the USA Water Polo Hall of Fame in 1993. In 2010, USA Water Polo established the Barbara Kalbus Distinguished Volunteer Award to honor those who have gone above and beyond in their service to the sport of water polo.


Barbara Kalbus did almost all of this volunteer work while working for Long Beach City College for forty-years as a science teacher, vice-president of academic affairs and finally vice-president of administrative services before retiring. She was a tireless worker, an innovator, a perfectionist and someone who wanted things done always the correct way. No one ever will care as much for the sport of water polo than Dr. Barbara Kalbus. It was her life and those who worked with her will forever be grateful for knowing her.

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