The final Sunshine State Games event of the month of June, the Water Polo Championships, features 57 teams playing in eight divisions, this weekend at the Coral Springs Aquatic Center and Pompano Beach Aquatic Center, including one team with an Olympic Gold Medalist on the roster.
Suiting up for one of the five Riptides Water Polo teams, is 2016 U.S. Olympic Water Polo team gold medalist Ashleigh Johnson (pictured below), who advanced to the highest level of the sport of Water Polo, playing for the Riptides and in the Sunshine State Games.
Johnson will be the goalie for the Women’s Open Riptides team that begins competition on Saturday at 12:10 p.m. at the Coral Springs Aquatic Complex against the Central Florida Sharks. The Riptides play their second game of pool play at 3:30 at Coral Springs against South Florida Water Polo
“Ashleigh Johnson, our hometown girl and forever a Riptide, has won gold and captured the hearts of the world in her journey.” said Riptides Head Coach Carroll Vaughan. “We are so proud of Ashleigh and all of her accomplishments. She’s come a long way from starting at Cutler Ridge pool with us.”
One of the goals of the Sunshine State Games, during its 38 years of providing amateur sports opportunities for Floridians, is to provide an outlet for athletes of all ages the first level of competition against athletes from within the state as they move to national and international competition.
“The journey of Ashleigh Johnson is one the Sunshine State Games has provided many Florida amateur athletes,” said Stephen Rodriguez, Sr. Vice President of the Florida Sports Foundation. “She began playing on the local club level for the Riptides against other Florida athletes, advanced to the collegiate level at Princeton to play against national level and then played for the U.S. National Team to play against international competition and finally in the Olympic Games. She’s an inspiration to all Sunshine State Games athletes.”
Sunshine State Games play begins Friday morning at 10:30 a.m. with the last game of the day beginning at 8:30 p.m. Saturday’s action begins at 8:00 a.m. and concludes with the final game of the day at 8:30 p.m. Sunday’s championship play starts at 8:00 a.m. with the last game beginning at 6:00 p.m. Visit www.sunshinestatemgames.com for the complete schedule of games that will be updated with scores during the course of the weekend.
Johnson is the second Olympic gold medalist to make an appearance at the Sunshine State Games in 2017. Two-time Olympic Judo gold medalist Kayla Harrison (pictured at left) visited with athletes at the Palm Beach County Convention Center last weekend.
Over 7,000 athletes have competed in 2017 Sunshine State Games events since February. The Sunshine State Games is presented annually by the Florida Sports Foundation, the state’s lead sports promotion and development organization. This weekend’s SSG Water Polo Championships are presented in conjunction with Broward County Sports Development.