Former Loyola Marymount head coach Rick McLaughlin was named UCSB’s men’s volleyball coach on Tuesday, replacing Ken Preston, who recently retired after 30 seasons with the program. McLaughlin, a National Coach of the Year, was most recently the women’s coach at Golden West College, where he went 36-9 over two seasons and guided the Rustlers to the state title game.
“I am elated that [McLaughlin] is joining our staff,” Athletic Director Gary Cunningham said. “He comes to us with a wealth of experience, and I believe that he is the right person to help Gaucho volleyball continue a long tradition of success.”
McLaughlin’s resume is highlighted by an eight-year stint at LMU, where he was twice named Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Coach of the Year, including the 2000 season in which he was named ASICS/Volleyball Magazine National Coach of the Year after leading the Lions to their first appearance in the MPSF Tournament semifinals. The 2000 season produced victories over volleyball powers UCLA, Penn State and Long Beach State, but following the season, LMU dropped the program.
McLaughlin moved on to Santa Monica College before joining his brother’s staff at Washington to help coach the women’s program. Following that, he returned to Pepperdine, the site of his first collegiate coaching job, where he helped guide the Waves to three Final Four appearances and the 2005 National Championship. McLaughlin is familiar with UCSB, having served under women’s coach Kathy Gregory in 2005 when the Gauchos shared the Big West title and made a trip to the NCAA Tournament.
“I am very excited to be back in Santa Barbara and back doing what I want to do, which is coach Division I men’s volleyball,” McLaughlin said. “I am really lucky to take over a program that has been run so well for so long. When I started coaching at 23, Ken [Preston] helped me a great deal, and I have always looked up to him. He is a real class act. This should be a very easy transition and one that I am looking forward to.”
A four-year starting setter at LMU, McLaughlin will assume his new position at UCSB on July 1.
Women’s Water Polo:
The UCSB women’s water polo team took a huge step toward respectability yesterday when current men’s water polo coach Wolf Wigo was named the school’s director of water polo, putting him in charge of both the men’s and women’s programs.
After just three years at the helm of the men’s team, Wigo has already turned the program around, leading UCSB to its first 20-win season in 16 years, and its first victory over Stanford in 22 years. The announcement is the third major coaching move in a matter of weeks for outgoing Athletics Director Gary Cunningham, who is set to retire at the end of the summer.
“I am excited about this appointment,” Cunningham said. “I hope Wolf elevates the women’s program the way he has elevated the men’s program. As women’s water polo becomes a fully sponsored sport in the Big West Conference, I think Wolf will help us become a consistent contender for league championships and NCAA bids.”
The women’s team recently finished a tumultuous season in which the Gauchos went 6-21 and finished 12th in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. In addition to having a new coach next season, the women’s program will also have a new conference, as the Gauchos are leaving the MPSF behind to join the Big West.
“I think our women’s program is one that has a ton of potential,” Wigo said. “Water polo is such a strong sport in this town, and this program really has an opportunity to succeed. I look forward to the chance to revitalize the program and get us to the top of the rankings, where we should be.”
First-year Head Coach Jenn Durley left the team in March due to medical reasons, leaving Assistant Coach Paul Rave as the interim head coach for the remainder of the season. Rave was the assistant for both the men’s and women’s teams last year before taking over for Durley, and with Wigo’s promotion, he is again the assistant for both programs.
Wigo has a 53-45 record in three years, including a 40-28 record the past two seasons, and finishes off fifth and sixth in the Big West Tournament. A well-known name in the water polo community, Wigo has shown an ability to get creative with recruiting, bringing in two-time MPSF Honorable Mention honoree Zsombor Vincze from Hungary and 2007 MPSF Newcomer of the Year Milos Golic from Serbia.
A three-time Olympian and former U.S. National Team captain, Wigo had an extremely successful collegiate career at Stanford, winning back-to-back national titles and being named a four-time All-American and 1994 NCAA Player of the Year. Wigo is now Mr. Water Polo in Santa Barbara, as he also coaches for the Santa Barbara Water Polo Foundation. With the promotion, he will attempt to duplicate the dual-coaching model that currently exists at water polo powers UCLA and USC.