The Water Boys sing their way to historic success

The Water Boys pose with an award.

In 2008, eight engineers from the University of Waterloo joined together to create a platform from which they could actively pursue one of their many passions – singing! It was then that the Water Boys, UWaterloo’s first all-male a cappella group, was officially formed.

This year marked an historic achievement for the group, as they became the first Canadian group in over a decade to win the International Championship of the Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA) semi-finals, and secured a spot in the ICCA finals. Their win made them the number one a cappella group in Canada and the number one all-male a cappella group in North America.

The ICCA competition is considered the mecca for collegiate a cappella, dubbed as the “varsity of vocals.” If you’ve ever watched Pitch Perfect, you know that competing in the ICCA finals is monumental for anyone involved in the world of a cappella.

With success comes great challenge, and the Water Boys have certainly faced their fair share of difficulties on their road to finals.

I was able to exchange words with Matthew Leandres, a fourth year math student and the president of the Water Boys, to learn more about their unforgettable journey.

The biggest challenge for most of us was balancing our rehearsals and practice time with our various other commitments. Our members are all very active in school and the community.

matthew leandres

Luckily, they were met with an outpouring of love and support from the community. With the ICCA finals in New York City, the travelling costs did not fit the student budget. The boys set up a GoFundMe page to help alleviate some of their expenses, and the support they received enabled them to reach their goal in a matter of weeks.

We actually couldn’t believe how quickly we reached our GoFundMe goal. It really helped us feel loved and filled us with the emotional drive we needed at the ICCA Finals. We’d be nowhere without the amazing love and support from our friends, family, and (now thousands) of fans.

matthew leandres

With this support, they were able to successfully arrive at the ICCA Finals in New York City where they competed against some of the world’s best a cappella collegiate groups.

The Water Boys perform onstage.

It feels absolutely unreal. It still hasn’t settled in for most of our members. The feeling of being able to represent our school and country on an international stage of that caliber in front of over 3,000 people, with many more watching from home, was phenomenal.

matthew leandres

Unfortunately, The Water Boys did not place. However, their efforts and accomplishments have not been in vain, as they managed to make history while embarking on the experience of a lifetime.

Canada’s Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, recognized their achievements in a letter written to the Water Boys.

As the first Canadian team to qualify as finalists in this competition in over a decade, you can be proud of the efforts that have brought you this far […] Your talent and passion for A Cappella are truly inspiring.

Justin trudeau, Canadian Prime Minister, in a 2017 letter to the Water Boys

Thus, if there were a word to adequately describe the Water Boys and all of their triumphs this year, our Prime Minister penned it perfectly – inspiring.

Congratulations on the history-making success boys. Not only have you made us proud, but you have inspired us all!


If you’d like to get involved in the UW A Cappella Club (UWACC), the UWACC has five groups: The Water Boys, the Acabellas, the Unaccompanied Minors, the Musical InterDudes, and ACE.                    Keep an eye on out on their individual Facebook pages for audition information, including details on how to sign up! 

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