A look into the people of Water Polo, who they are, what they have done, and what they have learned along the way. This is a series highlighting some of water polo’s best minds and athletes over the past 50 years. Featuring CWPA Hall of Fame member, George Gross Jr., providing listeners with a conversation about what helped good players, coaches, and administrators reach the top of the game. New Episodes release on the first and third Tuesday of every month. Be sure to subscribe to get the latest episodes!
A member of the Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) Board of Directors and a past athlete in the league at the University of Notre Dame, Brian Coughlin has excelled as the head coach of his alma mater's Fighting Irish women's water polo program. They have accrued 12 Midwest Division Championships and 8 Division Runners-up. Coughlin has led Notre Dame to Second (2009, 2015), Fourth (2002), Sixth (2001, 2010), Seventh (2000), Ninth (2006, 2013, 2014), 10th (2008, 2019), 11th (2007) and 12th (2012) place finishes at the Women's National Collegiate Club Championship during his tenure as volunteer Head Coach. In addition to his water polo commitment, Coughlin serves as the Associate Vice President for Student Development at The University of Notre Dame where he oversees the Office of Community Standards, the Gender Relations Center, Multicultural Student Programs & Services, the Student Activities Office, Student Media, and the Notre Dame Band. Previously, Mr. Coughlin served in the role of Assistant Vice President from 2007 to 2010 and Director of Student Activities from 2001 to 2007, leading the Student Activities Office through a period of substantial growth. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Government and Theology from Notre Dame in 1995 and a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from West Virginia University in 1997.
Appointed head coach of the California Baptist University women's water polo team in the spring of 2014 following time as an assistant for both the men's water polo and swimming and diving programs starting in 2012, Jon Miller has made a mark at his alma mater.
In seven seasons, CBU has gone 126-90 under Miller and finished a program-best third in the Golden Coast Conference in 2016. The Lancers have produced 14 All-America selections and 21 All-GCC selections under Miller. Hannah Evans also earned back-to-back NCAA Division II Player of the Year honors in 2015-16.
The former standout water polo player for the Lancers came to CBU after three seasons as the head women's water polo coach and assistant swimming and diving coach at Grove City College in Grove City, Pa.
Miller led the Wolverines to Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) Division III titles in 2010, 2011 and 2012, and was named 2010 CWPA Division III Coach of the Year. During his tenure with Gove City, the Wolverines racked up a 52-34 record, including a program best 18-8 mark his last season. He also helped lead the Wolverine men's and women's swimming and diving teams to three straight Presidents' Athletic Conference (PAC) championships. With both a bachelor's and master's of science in kinesiology from CBU, Miller also served as an assistant professor of physical education at Grove City for three years.
A 2008 graduate of Cal Baptist prior to staying on as a graduate assistant for the men's and women's water polo programs while he earned his master's degree, Miller was a four-year standout goalie for the Lancers and has the third-most saves in program history with 1,025. His 415 saves in 2007 are still the highest single season total in program history and his 22 saves against Pepperdine in 2007, which still sits second all-time.
Ryan Castle has traveled the world, speaks 5 languages, and has coached water polo at all levels from youth to National Teams. He began his varsity collegiate coaching career at Arizona State University under former Brown University head coach Todd Clapper from 2007-to-2010. In addition to serving on the women’s water polo varsity staff, he served as head coach for the ASU men’s collegiate club team. He helped lead the Sun Devils to a third-place finish at the 2008 National Collegiate Club Championships in 2008 at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, as the program finished Third (2007), First (2008) and Second (2009) in the Southwest Division during his time in Tempe, Arizona.
Castle accrued four years of experience at CWPA Division I institutions by working a three-year stint as an assistant at Hartwick College under Alan Huckins. From there he went to the University of Michigan under then Wolverines’ coach/now Connecticut College head coach Matt Anderson from 2013-2014.
Serving as the associate head coach for the University of Hawaii in 2015 and 2016 under head coach Maureen Cole, Castle helped guide the Rainbow Warriors to the 2015 Big West Tournament Championship and an appearance in the 2015 NCAA Championship. Castle served as an interim head coach during the 2016 season, and in that time Hawaii earned a 13-4 record.
Ryan Castle is currently the Head Women's Water Polo Coach and Director of Club Sports at Carthage College. Ryan came to Carthage College in July 2019 following a three-year tenure at Indiana University where he compiled a 52-36 record from 2017-to-2019.
Outside of the collegiate ranks, Castle honed his craft with international teams, both at the junior and senior levels. Most recently, Castle held the reigns as the head coach of the Kazakhstan Women’s Senior National Team, where he guided Kazakhstan to an appearance at the 2011 FINA World Championships in Shanghai, China. Kazakhstan’s 13th-place finish at the event was the fourth-highest in the country’s history.
Before Kazakhstan, Castle served as the Video Analyst for the New Zealand senior team at the 2009 FINA World Championships. From 2007 to 2009, Castle worked in the US Olympic Development Program by running one of the United States’ under-18 zone teams.
Castle had the opportunity to coach for his home nation of South Africa from 2002 to 2005, and again in 2011, where he assisted with the Women’s Senior National Team and served as head coach for the National “B” Team. In 2003, Castle took charge of the South African Women’s Junior National Team and assisted with the Men’s Junior Team.
A native of Cape Town, South Africa, Castle graduated from the University of Cape Town in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in information systems and earned a post-graduate credential in education in 2003.
Katie Larson has achieved success in the water as an athlete at the University of Massachusetts and on the deck as head coach of the University of Florida women’s collegiate club team.
A native of Atlanta, Georgia, she started playing water polo in 9th grade at Pace Academy in Atlanta and immediately fell in love with the sport and played all four years, both at Pace and at the Dynamo Water Polo club team of Atlanta, and made the Honorable Mention All-American team her senior year. She then enrolled at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where she walked on to the Division I varsity women's water polo team. She competed with UMass for three and a half years, during which time the team placed as high as Fifth in the nation, before returning to Atlanta to enroll in Graduate school and resume playing with the Dynamo team. Katie moved to Gainesville, FL, in 2004, and she began playing with the UF women's club team the next year. In 2007, she served as the volunteer assistant coach for UF, and in 2008 was given the honor of head coach.
Larson, who led the Gators to the 2019 Women’s National Collegiate Club Championship as Florida became the inaugural East Coast club team to win a National Championship in the sport of water polo, the 2018 and 2019 National Championship Coach of the Tournament has led Florida to become a dominant force in the ranks of club teams around the country.
The 2018 Coach of the Tournament award for leading Florida to a Third Place finish Mt. Hood Community College prior to earning the 2019 honor for guiding the Gators to a 4-3 defeat of the University of California-Davis for the National Championship at the University of Notre Dame, has led the rise of Florida with fellow coach/husband Tim Larson.
Dr. Marcelo Leonardi enters his seventh season as the head coach of the University of Michigan Wolverines in 2021. In six seasons, Leonardi has recorded a 143-56 (.719) overall record at Michigan. He has guided the Wolverines to four NCAA appearances & four CWPA Championships in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and three first place conference finishes during the regular season. In just his second year at Michigan in 2016, Leonardi took the Wolverines to their highest point in the 16 years of the program. U-M achieved its highest ranking of all-time, No. 4, after placing 4th at the NCAA Championship. The Wolverines won the CWPA Championship for the sixth time and first since 2010, giving Leonardi his first college championship. He was named the Doc Hunkler Coach of the Tournament. The team finished with a 30-8 overall record. Named the 2014 and 2018 recipient of USA Water Polo's Sandy Nitta Distinguished Women's Coaching Award, Leonardi has been heavily involved with the national governing body since 2009. He served two cycles as the USA women's national youth team coach, leading Team USA to gold at the FINA Youth World Championship in Madrid, Spain in 2014 and to a fifth place finish in New Zealand in 2016. His gold medal in 2014 was the first Youth World Championship in USA Water Polo history. Leonardi has served as the national technical director for the women's Olympic Development Program (ODP) and has been associated with the organization since 2013. In his role with USA Water Polo, Leonardi oversees the implementation of training for all female athletes in the Olympic Development Program nationwide as well as competition at the national training and selection camps.
Also, check out our new CWPA Remote - Professional Edition video series on YouTube. The first episode is available now with Nicole Freeman Womack - VP of Team Marketing and Business Operation for the NBA. Watch it here: https://youtu.be/FkB7Oh31Ru8
Lynn Kachmarik is a bona fide legend in the water polo community. The first woman to be inducted into the Collegiate Water Polo Association Hall of Fame, her career in aquatics spans four decades with a lengthy list of accomplishments.
A 2003 inductee to the CWPA Hall of Fame, Kachmarik was among the first group of women inducted in the United States Water Polo Hall of Fame in 2004. She also is a member of the Bucks County Chapter of Pennsylvania’s Athletic Hall of Fame (2015), the Slippery Rock Athletic Hall of Fame (1991) and the Neshaminy High School Hall of Fame (1985).
Beginning with her undergraduate athletic career as an All-America water polo player and swimmer for Slippery Rock University, Kachmarik went on to become a 12-year member of the U.S. Women’s National Water Polo Team. The first player for the national team outside of California, she appeared in three World Aquatic Championships (1980, 1984, and 1988), along with numerous FINA World Cup Championships. Kachmarik also captained the squad for half of her tenure. She also coached and served on the executive committee, helping guide the team at the World Aquatic Championships in Perth, Australia in 1993. Her playing career reached a crescendo in 2007, when she won a gold medal for 30+ Women’s Water Polo at the 2007 Aquatics World Championships at Stanford University.
In 1981, she accepted a position at Bucknell University, working in various capacities for 18 years. Initially hired to coach women’s swimming and diving, she broke down another barrier with her appointment as men’s water polo coach two years later. This made her the first woman to coach any NCAA Division I men’s team sport. Kachmarik also held the positions of Director of Aquatics and Head Women’s Water Polo Coach. The Bison inducted her into their Athletic Hall of Fame in 2015.
Kachmarik would parlay 18 years at Bucknell into 16 years working a number of positions in South Bend, Indiana. She spent 10 years as the Director of Athletics and Recreation for Division III Saint Mary’s College, followed by a one-year stint with the South Bend/Mishawaka Convention and Visitors Bureau as their executive director. Another domino fell in 2009 when she became the first woman to hold a top executive position for a minor league baseball team, serving as Vice President and General Manager for the South Bend Silver Hawks. After two seasons with the Silver Hawks, she worked as General Manager for the South Bend Country Club, and became the National Director of Growth for the Play Like a Champion Today Program at Notre Dame.
Today, Kachmarik is a renowned global speaker and educator on leadership, cultural change embraced by empathy, character development and vulnerability. She currently serves as president of Equilibria in Sports as well as Equilibria in Education. Lynn is also the founder and owner of True Brand Sports LLC, which provides workshops around the world to improve the sport culture at the youth, high school, collegiate and professional levels.
She was an Olympic Swimmer at age 16, has been a professional poker player, and remains a pioneer and in the sport of Water Polo. The recipient of the 2012 International Swimming Hall of Fame Paragon Award, Sandy Nitta began by participating in competitive swimming and developing her swimming skills to become a member of the 1964 USA Olympic Swim Team competing in the breaststroke. She coached swimming for a few years prior to turning her attention to the development of water polo. The founder of the City of Commerce (Calif.) Water Polo program which she led to multiple national championships, Nitta served as the USA’s Women’s International Chairperson from 1976 to 1978. From 1980 to the present, she has given water polo clinics all around the world including New Zealand, Australia, England, Norway, Sweden, Spain, Singapore, India, France, Germany, Brazil and Mexico. In 1977, Commerce hosted the first-ever Women’s International Tournament in the United States and Sandy was the Tournament Director. She was one of the original coaches who began the push for the inclusion of women’s water polo at the Olympic Games, which became a reality in 2000 during the Sydney Games. She was the first Head Coach for the United States Junior National Team (1979). For 17 years (1980-1996, 1998), she was head coach of the USA Senior National Team. She was also head coach of the Queensland, Australia State Team (1996) and the Brazilian Senior National Team (1999-2002) where she coached at the first Pan American Games to include women’s water polo and the first-ever wins against the United States by the Brazilian team. For two years (2000-2002), she was coach of the Tualatin Hills Water Polo Club in Portland, Oregon and then Head Coach of Team Vegas in Las Vegas (1992-2000) and currently Team Vegas/Henderson (2002 to present). Other positions of leadership include: U.S. Water Polo Masters Advisory Committee (2008-2011), USA Water Polo Hall of Fame Committee (2006-2010), USA Water Polo Board of Directors (2010 to present), U.S. Olympic Development Director of the West Region (2011 to present) and Co-Chairperson of the USA Water Polo Coaches Association. She is the first and only female water polo coach in the USA Water Polo Hall of Fame and in her honor, the “Sandy Nitta Distinguished Women’s Coach Award” is presented annually by USA Water Polo.
Ed Reed is the Coordinator of Officials for the Collegiate Water Polo Association and a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Referee Evaluators Group. He began his coaching tenure at Brown University in 1971 when he was named head coach of the men’s varsity swim team and club water polo team. In 1974, the men’s water polo team achieved varsity status as he built the program into an East Coast powerhouse by never experienced a losing season at Brown, compiling a career record of 420-159-5 in 20 years at the helm. He led the Bears to 17-consecutive New England Championships and four Eastern Championships, including three straight from 1983-85, and a record ten Eastern Championship final appearances. Under Reed, the team made eleven NCAA tournament appearances, finishing sixth in 1983, 1984 and 1985. He received Eastern Water Polo League Coach of the Year honors in 1987 and 1989, was inducted into the Rhode Island Aquatic Hall of Fame in 1986, the Brown University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1996, the United States Water Polo Hall of Fame in 1999, and the CWPA Hall of Fame in 2003. He also contributed to the sport on the national level, serving on the coaching staff of the United States Men’s National Water Polo Team from 1993-96. He was also elected President of the American Water Polo Coaches Association and served on several committees for United States Water Polo. In addition to his service to water polo, Reed continues to be active in swimming competing in the Pan Am Masters and US Masters Swimming Championships.
This is the third part of a special 3-part holiday release with Dan Sharadin. Here we get a chance to chat about water polo in general and talk to Dan about his long time coaching and playing the game.
Thank you for listening and supporting the CWPA!
This is the second part of a special 3-part holiday release. In this series, we take a look at Dan Sharadin - the first (and current) commissioner of the CWPA. In this episode, we take a look at the CWPA over the years, from it's formation to what it is today and how Dan has helped shape that along the way. We hope you enjoy this episode and be sure to check back for part 3!
Thank you for listening and supporting the CWPA!
In this the first part of a special 3-part holiday release. In this series, we take a look at Dan Sharadin - the first (and current) commissioner of the CWPA. This first episode takes a look at his early and family life that includes the adoption of his 5 (that's right, FIVE) children. We hope you enjoy this and look forward to parts 2 and 3.
Thank you for listening and supporting the CWPA!
A native of Nis, Serbia, the Washington & Jefferson College men's and women's water polo head coach Nikola Malezanov took over the Presidents' programs following a successful tenure as the head coach of the Pittsburgh Water Polo Club and North Allegheny High School, where he won Pennsylvania state titles in 2011-12 and 2012-13. He is a veteran coach with approximately 20 years of experience on the deck, he has also been the assistant coach for the USA Water Polo Cadet National Team, the Great Lakes Zone head coach, as well as served on the staff for the US National Team at the World University Games and World League preliminary tournament along with a three-game series against Serbia in Southern California in December 2019.
Malezanov gained experience in the collegiate ranks as a graduate assistant for swimming and water polo at Salem University (W.Va.) from 2007-2009. He then moved on to the United States Naval Academy as a coach with the club water polo team, eventually earning a spot on the varsity coaching staff.
He earned his Bachelor’s degree from the Faculty of Physical Education at the University of Nis and later received his Master’s in Education, Coaching and Exercise Science from Salem.
Connecticut College men’s and women’s head coach and former women’s head coach for the University of Michigan, Matt Anderson has garnered the third most wins in women’s collegiate water polo history. Since joining Connecticut College, the women’s team has captured the CWPA Division III Championship twice (2015, 2017) and the men’s team has set new school records for number of wins. In his time at the University of Michigan, he was named CWPA Western Division Coach of the Year six times and collected 332 wins and 10 division titles. His experience includes more than a decade of coaching high school programs, assistant coach for the United States Men’s Water Polo national junior, youth, and cadet teams, and head coach of the United States Women’s National B Team. He has also been involved in the administration side and is the only person to have ever served on all three of the NCAA’s water polo committees.
This episode is a special release for the holidays and gives us a chance to find out more about our host!
George Gross, Jr. started at goaltender for an exceptional Yale University men’s water polo team from 1971-1973. Yale ruled the East during that time, winning the Eastern Championship three times, and competing at the NCAA Championship in 1972. In honor of his success, Gross was named first member of the Yale Water Polo Hall of Fame, CWPA Hall of Fame, Ontario Aquatics Hall of Fame, and Etobicoke Sports Hall of Fame. Upon returning home to Canada after graduating from Yale, Gross played for the University of Toronto men’s team for two seasons and earned a roster spot on the Canadian Men’s National Team and enjoyed a long and successful career as an international player. He played in two Olympic Games (1976 and 1984), scoring the longest goal in Olympic water polo history versus China in 1984 and serving as Canada’s flag-bearer at the 1986 games. After the conclusion of his international playing career, Gross served as Head Coach of the Canadian Men’s National Team twice, from 1987-1991. In addition, he founded the Toronto City Golden Jets water polo club and served as head coach/player from 1980-84 and 1986-1991. Under his guidance, the club grew from 12 initial members to 125 members in men’s, women’s, junior and senior levels of play.
Gross currently gives back as a commentator and announcer for water polo broadcasts. He has done color commentary work on national television in Canada for three World Championships and two Olympic Games, while also providing play-by-play of the women’s international Canada Cup from Olympic Stadium in Montreal, Canada. The “Voice of the CWPA”, Gross has announced the Women’s NCAA Championship, the CWPA National Collegiate Club Championship (both men and women), the CWPA Championship, the CWPA Division III Championship and the Mid-Atlantic Water Polo Conference (MAWPC).
Fordham University former Head Coach, and current Associate Head Coach, Bill Harris enter his 17th season as part of the Rams' water polo program. During his time at Fordham he has compiled five trips to the CWPA Championship (2009-10, 2013-15) and four to the Mid-Atlantic Water Polo (MAWPC) Championship (2016-19). Under Harris' leadership, the Rams have seen sustained recent success, posting three straight winning seasons (2015-17), six straight seasons of at least 16 wins (2014-19), and a Top 20 national ranking in multiple seasons for the first time since the 1980s. The team has also been recognized by the NCAA for its Academic Progress Rate (APR) score six times. Since 2004, Harris has brought respect back to Fordham as he helped 13 Rams earn All-CWPA Northern Division honors from 2005-14. The former girls' varsity coach at Greenwich High School (Conn.), he served as the travel team coach for Greenwich Youth Water Polo from 2000-03, while also serving as an Age Group coach for the New York Athletic Club from 1995-2003. Harris was also the head coach for the NYAC Men's Team from 1982-87. A 1997 U.S. Water Polo Hall of Fame inductee, Harris had a prolific playing career at St. Francis College, where he was a 1966 NCAA All-America selection and a four-time Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) All-Star Team selection, while helping St. Francis to four ECAC Championships and an undefeated conference record in those four seasons. He later was selected to the St. Francis College Athletic Hall of Fame in 1990. Following his collegiate career, Harris represented the New York Athletic Club from 1967-92, where he was a member of eight National Championship teams. He was selected First Team All-America eight times as a member of the NYAC, and was 1973 and 1977 MVP for the National Championship Tournaments. Harris was also named MVP of the NYAC Paul Wacker Tournament on three separate occasions (1975, 1978, and 1980), and earned MVP honors of the North American Cup in 1977.
Alan Huckins is in his third season as an assistant men's coach at the United States Air Force Academy. He previously spent 15 seasons as the head coach of the Hartwick College women’s water polo team prior to the program being discontinued after the 2018 season. During his 15 years on the Hartwick bench, he led the Hawks to 20 or more wins 14 times and compiled an overall record of 396-173. Under his guidance, the Hawks qualified for the NCAA Championships three times and captured three CWPA Eastern Championships (2004, 2006, 2007) in five title game appearances (2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009). In addition, he coached four Olympians, and was named The CWPA Northern Division Coach of the Year four times (2005, 2006, 2007, and 2010). A 1992 graduate of Slippery Rock University, Huckins is an experienced coach on the international, collegiate, high school and club levels. Huckins served as assistant coach for the United States Women's National Water Polo "A" Team from 1995-1998 and also worked as an assistant coach for the U.S. Women's National "B" Team from 1993-1995. In addition, he has previous experiences as a head swimming/water polo coach at Florida Atlantic University, Bucknell University, Slippery Rock, The College of Saint Rose and Beyer High School (Calif.).
Barry King has risen to stand among the ranks of the premier coaches in the Collegiate Water Polo Association. During his tenure at Indiana University, he guided the Hoosiers to 20 or more wins in 17 of 19 seasons with five conference championships and a staggering total of more than 400 wins. He brought his excellence to Washington, D.C., where he serves as the head men's and women's coach at George Washington University. Among the inaugural coaches to begin recruiting international student-athletes, he helped the GW men's team achieve the program's first league titles with back-to-back Mid-Atlantic Water Polo Conference (MAWPC) crowns in 2017 and 2018.
Ted Minnis stands as the 10th and most successful mentor in the history of the men's and women's Water Polo programs at Harvard University. An aquatics tactician, Minnis coached the Crimson men to three Northeast Water Polo Conference titles (2016, 2017, 2019) and has led a resurgence of both the men's and women's teams at arguably the most prestigious school in the country. Minnis' path to Cambridge is among the most unique in any collegiate sport. Despite not competing in water polo beyond high school, the gregarious mentor of the Crimson came to Harvard following previous experience at Castilleja School in Palo Alto, the USA Water Polo National Youth Team, and the Stanford Water Polo club. Some of his accolades include the 2017 USA Water Polo Olympic Development Coach of the Year, a two-time Positive Coaching Alliance Coach of the Year finalist, and The Friends of Harvard Water Polo and James Herscot '58 Coach of Excellence.
A 2014 inductee to the CWPA Hall of Fame, former United States Naval Academy head coach Mike Schofield retired in 2013 after leading the Midshipmen to nine CWPA/Eastern Championships during his 29-year tenure on the Navy bench as the squad competed in 13 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Tournaments. Twenty-one Navy athletes earned 31 All-America honors under Schofield, and Navy was represented on the All-America team in each of the last 14 years of his career. Schofield is the school’s all-time winningest coach, compiling an astonishing 631 wins in 28+ years in charge of the Navy water polo program.
We are launching a new Podcast - PoloCAST! We are taking a look at some of the most prominent people in Water Polo, where they came from, what have they experienced, and what they have learned along the way. Here is an introduction to the podcast with a little bit about our host - George Gross Jr.
Don't forget to subscribe, we are releasing 2 episodes a month, with some bonus episodes sprinkled in along the way.