Navy's Tom Popp Elected to CWPA Hall of Fame
BRIDGEPORT, Pa. - Two-time All-America selection Cmdr. Tom Popp ‘89 of the United States Naval Academy will be inducted into the Collegiate Water Polo Association Hall of Fame on Friday, November 21 as part of the 2008 Men's Eastern Championship hosted by Navy on November 21-23.
Popp, who returned to the Naval Academy last season as an instructor in the Aerospace Engineering Department following an 18-year hiatus, is the first Navy player inducted into the Hall of Fame and becomes the youngest male inductee in league history.
"It is great timing for the league and the Naval Academy that Tom is presently stationed here at Navy, teaching in the Aerospace Engineering Department, and serving as our Officer Representative and Volunteer Assistant Coach," notes Navy head coach Mike Schofield.
"As a player, Tom epitomized the best qualities that all of the players and coaches in the CWPA strive for each day, and as a member of our staff, he is a great role model for our current players."
A native of San Jose, California, Popp was a two-time high school water polo All-America selection at Bellarmine College Preparatory under legendary coach Larry Rogers.
While playing for Navy under Coach Schofield from 1985-88, Popp helped lead Navy to three Eastern Division Championships (1986-1988) and three NCAA tournament appearances. A two-time MVP of the Eastern Division (1987, 1988), he also earned All-America Honorable Mention in 1987 and third-team All-America honors in 1988.
As a senior, Popp was awarded the Naval Academy Athletic Association Sword for Men in 1989, presented to "that man of the graduating class who is considered by the Association's Athletic Council to have personally excelled in men's athletics during his years of varsity competition."
During this same period, Popp also participated on the U.S. Men's Junior National Team (1985-87), traveling to several European competitions, the Junior Pan-American Games in Ponce, Puerto Rico, and the 19 & Under World Championships in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Following his senior NCAA season, Tom trained with the U.S. Men's National Team from 1989 through April 1991.
"We've been blessed to have many exceptional players over the years, so it is only fitting that Tom is the first one to be honored by the CWPA in this manner," adds Schofield.
After graduating in 1989 with a bachelor of science in Aerospace Engineering, Cmdr. Popp completed naval flight officer training and qualified as an E-2C Hawkeye aircraft mission commander. In January 1995, following deployments aboard the USS Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier, Cmdr. Popp enacted orders to the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., and was selected as a U.S. Naval Test Pilot School (USNTPS) Cooperative program student. Upon graduating from USNTPS at NAS Patuxent River, Md., in December 1997, Cmdr. Popp was awarded a Masters degree in Aerospace Engineering, transitioned to the Aerospace Engineering Duty Officer community, and flight tested several new E-2C advanced avionics systems.
After his test squadron duty, Cmdr. Popp served on the staff of Commander U.S. Naval Air Forces Pacific Fleet (COMNAVAIRPAC) at NAS North Island in Coronado, Calif., (February 2000 to April 2002). He returned to NAS Patuxent River in May 2002 as the AEDO Community Manager within Naval Air Systems Command. Subsequently, he assumed the T-45 Integrated Product Team (IPT) lead for the Naval Undergraduate Training Systems program office (PMA-273) in 2004 before returning to his alma mater in May 2007.
Tom, his wife, Ruth (formerly Ruth Chasen (Navy '89), and their five daughters, Frances (17), Naomi (15), Hannah (12), Mary (8) and Ellen (3) reside in Arnold, Md.