Spartans' Water Polo World All A Twitter

Jack Stewart, a 60-year-old business lobbyist based in Sacramento, California, and Lou Tully, the 65-year old head coach of the nationally-ranked San Jose State University women’s water polo team, born at the onset of Baby Boomer Generation, defy the stereotypes of age and technology. Still in their professional prime, Stewart and Tully grasp consumer durables clearly foreign to them as youngsters and embrace one of today’s new media forms - the social media.

Stewart’s 19-year-old daughter, Allie, is one of 10 freshmen on the Spartans squad, currently ranked sixth in the coaches’ poll prior to the start of the 2009 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) Women’s Water Polo Championship on April 24 at the University of Hawaii’s Duke Kahanumoku Aquatic Center. Allie plays the 2-meter position, the offensive role in front of the opposing team’s goalkeeper. Jack will be in the grandstand in his Twitter persona as “jackstew” tweeting his account of each one of San Jose State’s three matches.

“I work around and in the capitol (Sacramento). When the (state of California) budget hearings were going on in January (2009), one, a reporter for Capital Public Radio started doing a play-by-play of the budget proceedings using twitter.com. I thought, boy, wouldn’t that be a good idea for water polo.  My sister (Betsy Geisel) lives in Pennsylvania, is a huge fan of Allie and follows her water polo career. So, I tried it out on a few early season games,” says Stewart, president of the California Manufacturers and Technology Association that represents manufacturers, processors and technology-based companies in the state.

“Of course, some the players’ parents noticed I was typing into my phone during games and when I explained what I was doing, they began to sign up on Twitter and follow my posts when they were unable to attend a game,” he continues. Age aside, Stewart considers himself technologically proficient. “About a month ago, I sent an email to all the parents inviting them to sign on and be a part of the action when they are unable to attend a game in person. Now, on any given weekend, I have 15-to-20 Spartan fans following my tweets.

“I originally thought about giving tidbits of the game like scores and kickouts. As I got a few games under my belt, I got more and more detailed. I was posting times and scores and everything along the way,” says Stewart. At San Jose State’s final regular season match, a 14-5 win at #10-ranked UC Davis, Stewart pounded his cell phone with 92 tweets in 82 minutes of real time. Unlike Allie who warms up with her teammates before a match, “jackstew” to the Twitter universe needs no time to get his two thumbs ready for action.

TWEET #3: IT’S TERRIFIC TO SEE COACH TULLY ON DECK

Lou Tully is the only head coach San Jose State has had for women’s water polo since the program’s initiation in 1996. The 1967 graduate played for the 1963 through 1965 Spartans’ men’s water polo teams.

Among the many relics in his office is a black-and-white photo of him wailing away as a member of the locally-known band, Big Bop & The Choppers. Specializing in 1950’s rock and roll, former high school physical education teachers and sports coaches at San Jose’s Oak Grove High School patterned their style after better-known groups - Sha Na Na and Butch Whacks and the Glass Packs. One of Tully’s singing partners was Green Bay Packers Super Bowl-winning coach Mike Holmgren.

“(At one time) Mike was my mic partner. He really could sing and I had to stand far enough away from the mic, because I sang in R-sharp,” laughs Tully about the band that had 14 different members and performed from 1973 to 2000, four years into his reign as the Spartans’ top water polo master.

The UC Davis victory on April 18 was the 200th in the history of San Jose State women’s water polo - a program that has finished in the top-10 national rankings seven of the last eight seasons, all with Tully at the helm.

When the Spartans go for win #201 against #5-ranked University of California in the first round of the MPSF Championship, the head coach will be in his San Jose home intently glued to his computer with pen and paper totally reliant on thumbs of Jack Stewart to tweet the action as it happens.

In August 2008, Tully was diagnosed with multiple myeloma a cancer of the plasma cell, vital to the immune system producing antibodies to help fight infection and disease.