by Rene Luna
The love of a sport can be one’s ticket on the road of life.
University of La Verne men’s and women’s swimming coach John Hallman has purchased that ticket.
After graduating from Cal State Northridge with a bachelor’s in health science, Hallman attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Pasadena. From there, he went on to the South Coast Repertory in Orange County, a professional conservatory, all with a six-year goal in mind: if he could not make a living acting within six years, he had to “switch to plan B.”
Today, Hallman’s love for swimming has led him to ULV as the head coach for the Leopards’ swim team.
However, it was fate that led him to the sport of swimming.
“My parents had a friend that had a child who was the same age as me, and the child drowned when he was 4 years old. My mom said, ‘That’s not going to happen to my kids and she threw my two brothers and I into swim lessons,” Hallman said.
However, it did not end there.
“In high school, I swam and got a lot of self-confidence and honors” he said. “I think if it was not for swimming, I would have never got into college.”
When La Verne implemented the aquatics program in 1997, Hallman was an assistant swim coach at Pomona-Pitzer. Once he received word of the program at ULV, he applied for the position of head coach.
“I bugged Jim Pascal about it. I think he gave me the job just to get me out of his hair,” Hallman said jokingly.
Along with water polo coach Tim Hugar, Hallman came to La Verne a full year before the start of their first season.
“We had a year to prepare for that first season,” he said. “We ended up bringing in 35 freshmen. So it was great because we had an immediate impact on our conference in the sense of the competitiveness of our program.”
That first year, the men’s water polo team took second in conference and the swim team ended up breaking two conference records and qualified seventh for nationals.
“We had a tremendous year,” the coach said.
Now the coach is busy as ever. With a small team this year, Hallman is trying to focus on what the priorities are for the team and what to do in regards to getting hid athletes into practice. Currently, there is no fixed team practice, just the responsibility of each team member to individually practice.
“I go with the W.I.N. philosophy,” he said. “What’s-Important-Now. I go over that with the team a lot.”
In regards to the job as a coach, Hallman said, “you get so much out of it, what you put into it.” The coach strives to live by that.
Outside of the coaching environment, Hallman has accomplished many personal goals. Besides purchasing a house, he has been married a year and a half.
“It’s been more than what I’ve dreamed of,” he said. “There’s a statistic where married couples live longer than single people, and I can see why-my wife is great.”
With the successes of the water polo and the swim teams, Hallman said La Verne aquatics are looking strong to the outside community.
“What’s happening with the team this year is they are realizing quality on the team means so much more than anything else,” he said.
It is with this in mind that coach Hallman continues to establish a good relationship with his student-athletes.
“The personal journeys I follow with the athletes is a great experience for me” he said.
Journalism operations manager at the University of La Verne. Production manager and business manager of the Campus Times.