Former Pepperdine water polo Director of Operations William Rodriguez has been named head water polo coach for both the men’s and women’s teams at La Verne.
After six seasons as head water polo coach at La Verne, Alex La resigned and handed the throne down to Rodriguez.
“I’m excited to coach at La Verne. It is a school that resembles all the values and same morals that I do,” Rodriguez said. “As far as for the season, without a doubt we want to compete and try to place on the top gear of the conference tournament. We have the components to do that.”
Rodriguez was 16 when he came to the United States, and after his sophomore year in high school he stopped playing every other sport and solely focused on water polo.
He started his college water polo career at West Valley College, where his team won back-to-back state titles.
Rodriguez went on to study and play at Pepperdine in 2001, and the following season he helped lead his team to place first in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, ranking No.3 on the national level.
In 2004 at the Pepperdine alumni game, a previous assistant coach asked Rodriguez what he thought of coaching. He thought he was going to hate it, but more than 10 years later it has become another passion.
Rodriguez became a part of the Pepperdine water polo staff in 2006 as a Division I assistant coach, helping the Waves earn a national top-10 rank.
“It’s a new era having this Division I knowledge being passed down to us,” junior utility player Andrew Phillips said. “I hope to play as a team, compete as a team and of course win as a team.”
After assisting the men’s and women’s water polo teams at USC, Rodriguez returned to Pepperdine in 2012 as the co-head coach guiding them in the right direction as they climbed up the national ranking to the No. 4 spot.
“It all started when I was 8 years old and I was taking swimming lessons. I had seen some older kids bouncing a ball in the pool,” Rodriguez said. “Next thing I knew I was on the pay phone calling my mom asking her if I could play water polo, and ever since it’s been my life.”
Water polo is not only a passion for Rodriguez, but it has also led to opportunities beyond championships and coaching. He has been able to travel the world and build new relationships and friendships that 20 years later still remain strong.
“I am super excited not just for the rest of my team, but for the program and the direction it is heading toward,” junior defender Viken Huening said.
Starting off the season at 0-4, the Leopards stay confident they will fight through the conference.
“I hope we improve from last year,” junior utility player Jordan Bowers said. “It is the start of a new era for the water polo team at La Verne, and I expect to do great.”
The men’s water polo team competes against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in the Inland Empire Tournament at 9 a.m. Saturday at the La Verne Aquatics Center.
Annabel Secaida can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.