Water Polo Achievements
1984 – 1987 All State Water Polo Player
1986 – 1987 All American High School Water Polo Player
1987 Tony Lawless Award as a player
1987 High School Player of the Year for Illinois
1990 Water polo MVP for Loyola University
1990 All American College Water Polo Player
1992 Coached AAU 14 & Under Coed National Champions
1999 Tony Lawless Award as a coach
1999 Illinois Coach of the Year (Maria H.S. head coach)
2005 Maria Hall of Fame for coaching water polo.
2010 St. Laurence Hall of Fame – 1987 State Champion Water Polo Team inducted
2011 St. Laurence Hall of Fall – Inducted for Swimming and Water Polo
2016 Illinois Water Polo Hall of Fame
Eric started playing water polo for the Chicago Park District as a Curie Park Barracuda in the late 70’s. As a young player, teenager, and adult he played on many Championship teams in the Chicago Park District, winning championships at the 14 & under Boys, 18 & under boys, and Senior Men’s Levels. Over the years he played for many parks: Curie, Ridge, Mann, Kosciuszko, Shabbona, Lafollette, Beilfuss, and Gill. He started playing club polo for Rich Norman at the age of 10 on the Chicago Parks Club. He played for Coach Norman for eight years where he developed into one of the top 2 meter players in the country. This club finished an impressive fourth place at the Junior Olympics with a victory over the first place finisher and a tie against the third place team.
He attended St Laurence H.S where he swam and played water polo for Jim Caliendo the first three years and his father, Art Fischer, his senior year. Here he was a successful swimmer and was a Catholic League swimming champion, sectional champion, and scored points at the state meet.
As a freshman, Eric played on the varsity water polo team which won the Novice State Championship with four freshman starters, including Eric. His sophomore year they won the Frosh/Soph Catholic League Championship. His junior year they finished 3rd place in State. Finally, in his senior year, the team won the Varsity Catholic League Championship. This team went on to win the State Tournament with one of the largest margins of victory in a championship game in the history of the ISA; 19 – 3. He was a four-year All State recipient and a two-time All American. He was a Tony Lawless Award winner and was named the player of the year in Illinois.
As one of the top recruited athletes in Chicago in 1987, with scholarship offers from over a dozen universities, he chose to attend Loyola University in Chicago to continue to representing not only Chicago, but also Illinois. Additionally, he wanted to play for his club coach, Rich Norman, who was named the Head Coach at Loyola University. Here, Eric was the first freshman since Dan O’Connell to make the traveling team and contribute to the team’s success. The Loyola University team was ranked as high as fifth in the country. At Loyola Eric received many honors including: Loyola Athlete of the Month (multiple times), Water Polo MVP, Conference honors, and All American. He was touted as one of the nation’s fastest 2meter players in the country. As a swimmer, he broke the school 200 yard freestyle record with a time of 1:37. 84 for the 200 yard freestyle.
He played for various Clubs including: Chicago Parks, Chicago Park District, Team Chicago, Chicago Aquatics Club, Curie Barracudas, Midwest All Stars, Loyola University, Chicago Apostles, and the Chicago Manatees.
During his high school and college years Eric played in two Olympic Sports Festivals and he was selected to participate in the World University Games. He was also a member of the National Youth Team, National Junior Team, National Men’s Zone Team, and was invited to tryout out for the National Men’s prior to being diagnosed with Lupus which ended his water polo career as an elite player.
Eric began refereeing Chicago Park District water polo while he was a high school student. He refereed most of the park district’s championship games unless his team was playing. Eric names both, Both Rick Marsh and Perry Korbakis as his mentors as a referee, helping to develop his skills and pushing him to be one of the better referees in the state. He started refereeing in the ISA immediately upon graduating high school where he refereed many Sectional and State Championship games. In the 1990’s, Eric developed a referee training program in the Chicago Park District to train a new generation of referees for Illinois water polo. Eric began refereeing club and summer tournaments outside the Chicago Park District with success and was ranked as high as an A level referee. He refereed Junior Olympics, Speedo Cups, NCAA Division 1 & 2 games and at Club Nationals. He was brought in by teams to referee in Canada and in Mexico when teams were asked to bring referees from the United States. He was Big Ten Assignment chair one year and Head of Officials for IIlinois one year as well.
Just like his experiences as a player and referee, Eric began coaching water polo at a young age. He started coaching at 16 with the Chicago Park District. He was the Assistant Coach and eventually the Head Coach for the Curie Park team. Over the years he coached many championship teams at the 14 & under, 18 & Under Boys, 18 & Under Girls, Senior Men’s, and Senior Women’s levels including teams from: Curie, Ridge, McGuane and Blackhawk parks. He enjoyed working with new athletes by developing their skills. He excelled at building up water polo programs that ultimately grew the sport in the Chicagoland area.
He coached the following clubs: Curie Park, Team Chicago, Chicago Apostles Age Group and Women’s Team, Team Chicago, Windy City, Loyola University Club, Chicago Manatees, N.W.O., and the Chicago Park District. As a club coach he won the 14 & under coed AAU National Championship, brought many teams to Junior Olympics, and traveled the country with teams on all levels representing Chicago, Illinois.
He started coaching Maria H.S. in 1995 and continued coaching there for five years with success. During his time as head coach, Marie H.S. won the Frosh/Soph Catholic League Championship for two years, the Varsity Catholic League Championship one year, Sectional Champions for three years and finished the State tournament with two third place finishes and one second place finish. Eric had the pleasure of coaching many All State recipients and six All Americans. Two of his players, Norma Ramirez and Hilary Rajkowski, were named Player of the Year in Illinois.
Eric is currently working for the Chicago Park District as the Manager of Beaches and Pools. He oversees one of the nation’s largest Lifeguard Services and all the aquatic programs including water polo. Prior to becoming the Manager, Eric ran the Prairie State Games for four summers and held week-long water polo tournaments at Riis Park and Portage Park outdoor pools.
He revitalized the Chicago Park District water polo club and the local programs by developing strong coaches and training programs thereby allowing kids from all over the city the opportunity to compete at the club level. The Chicago Park District program has since won most of the Midwest 12 & under Coed Division Championships, numerous 14 & under Girls and 14 & under Boys Midwest Championships, took 3rd place in the National State Challenge for 18 & under girls and 1st place in the National State Challenge for the 15 & under boys. Currently, there are over 100 teams playing water polo in the Chicago Park District at various levels: 10 & under coed, 12 & under coed, 14 & under coed, 14 & under boys, 14 & under girls, 18 & under boys, 18 & under girls, Senior Men’s, and Senior Women’s. The 2015/2016 season has recorded 1,630 athletes playing water polo in the Chicago Park District which is one of his proudest accomplishments. Eric is married to his beautiful wife, Wendy, and has four children Kelly, Kate, Zach and Tim, who all play water polo at various levels.