Finding a new head coach for the UCSB men’s water polo team has been like trying to find a full lecture hall on a sunny day in Spring Quarter.
Currently, the UCSB Athletics Dept. has narrowed its search down to two candidates to replace former head coach Joe O’Brien.
“We’re getting down to the tail end of the search, we’re getting close to coming up with a candidate and we’re pleased with the people we’re involved with,” UCSB Associate Athletics Director Bobby Castagna said. “We have some quality people that are making it to the finals of the search, and we feel good about them; it’s exciting.”
O’Brien stepped down in February, accepting a position as an academic counselor in the College of Letters & Science after coaching the Gauchos for 11 years, posting an 103-178 overall record. Whoever takes over the reigns will be the ninth coach in UCSB history and will try to improve upon last season’s 18-14 record.
Upon O’Brien’s announcement, the athletics department immediately began the search for a new coach. The department advertised the opening in NCAA News, a publication produced by the NCAA to alert potential applicants about the vacancy.
“We’re looking for someone who has a love for the sport and for someone who’s a good leader. We’re also looking for someone that has knowledge and experience and understands water polo from all aspects,” Castagna said. “Someone that’s going to come in and trying to recruit good student athletes and become as good as we can become. Someone who’s energetic, who wants to make UCSB as good as it can be.”
The Santa Barbara Water Polo Foundation has also been active in the search by forming the Alumni Search Assistant Committee. Independent of the Athletics Dept., the alumni have informed members of the water polo community both on the collegiate and national level.
“All of the water polo alumni had an absolute wonderful experience playing water polo in the greatest place and with a top-notch head coach at the program, it could return to the days of glory for years to come,” UCSB alumnus Peter Zamoyski said. “This is the first time the job has opened. We are thrilled with the idea to support the program.”
Sseveral UCSB student athletes met with the candidates Wednesday to give their input in the selection process. The Athletics Dept. hopes to have a final candidate within 10 business days.