Mark Boensel – Water Polo (21st Co.)

Mark is a 1974 graduate of Loyola High School in Los Angeles, California. While at Loyola High School, Mark was a four year letterman and two year team captain in swimming and one year letterman in football. Growing up in southern California, one of the country’s hot beds for water polo, Mark started playing the game competitively at an early age and did so through high school, despite the fact that Loyola High School had yet to establish a water polo team (it is now one of the top high school programs in the country). Instead, Mark played competitive water polo on several Los Angeles area club teams, including at the college level as part of the Loyola Marymount University club team. He was actively recruited as a swimmer by several colleges and universities, including receiving appointments to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, U.S. Military Academy and the U. S. Naval Academy.

Boensel entered the Naval Academy with the class of 1978 and swam for the Navy Varsity Swimming team for the 1974/75 season. During his plebe year, Mark discovered that, despite the fact that earlier in its history the Naval Academy had had a very successful and competitive water polo team, there was not a USNA water polo team that regularly competed at the intercollegiate level at either the varsity or club level. Given the number of good water polo players that participated in intramural water polo, Boensel saw an opportunity to re-energize the sport.

Mark began to recruit players throughout the Brigade and organized the group into a recognized club sport. Over the course of the next three and a half years, the Naval Academy Water Polo Club grew in both size and success. Garnering the talents of many in the Brigade while playing in individual games and tournaments up and down the eastern seaboard, the Navy team successfully took on some of the best teams in the East and re-established a thriving intercollegiate water polo team at the Naval Academy. Boensel was the club’s coach and captain and a multiple club “N“ winner for water polo. In 1982, building on the kick-start of the late 1970s return of intercollegiate water polo, Navy established the current Division I Varsity Water Polo team. Mark has returned to USNA on several occasions to play in annual alumni games.

After graduation, Boensel completed flight school and was winged in Pensacola, Florida as a Naval Flight Officer. He enjoyed a very successful flying career in the S-3 Viking community which included command of VS-29. He later successfully commanded Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida. He also had assignments as: Executive Assistant to Commander, Naval Air Forces, Pacific Fleet; as Military Assistant to the Under Secretary of Defense (Policy); and, as Military Assistant to the Secretary of Defense. He was selected to Rear Admiral (Lower Half) and Rear Admiral where served successively as: CNO N-45 (Director, Environmental Readiness Division); Commander, Navy Region Southeast; and, Commander, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic. He retired from active duty on 1 January 2012.

He still plays competitive water polo as a member of a Masters club in Jacksonville, Florida where he continues to stay connected to Navy Water Polo with the steady stream Navy Water Polo alumni who play with the team while assigned at the nearby bases.