Following an announcement by USA Water Polo Chief High Performance Officer John Abdou, Fresno State water polo head coach Natalie Benson was selected as head coach of the Women’s Junior National Team for the first time in her career, according to a release by Fresno State Athletics.
“It is an honor to be a part of the national team pipeline staff, and to have the opportunity to work with some of our future Olympians,” Benson said in the release on being chosen to lead the national team. “The Junior World Championships is a highly competitive tournament, and will provide these athletes tremendous international experience. I look forward to being a part of their journey.”
Benson has a history with USA water polo. Along with a being a two-time Olympian and medalist, she has been a coaching staple for the last eight years. She led the 18-and-under girl’s teams to a gold medal at the 2011 Junior Olympics and a silver medal in 2012 and 2013. She has also been an assistant coach for the Junior National Team (20U) at the Junior World Championships in 2015 (gold medal) and 2017 (Volos, Greece).
In 2013, Benson received the opportunity to serve as the head coach of USA Water Polo’s Women’s Cadet National Team, leading the group to a gold medal at the UANA Pan American Youth Water Polo Championships (17U) in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
As a player at the national level, Benson was an integral part of two Olympic medal-winning squads for Team USA at the 2004 (Bronze) and 2008 (Silver) Olympic Games.
The 2019 Fédération Internationale de Natation World Women’s Junior Water Polo Championships will be held Sept. 9-15 in Funchal, Portugal. Benson will lead her squad through a variety of additional competitions leading up to the championships, according to the release.