Alumnus, coach makes mark at Rio

Former La Verne water polo player and head coach Alex La served as a videographer for the U.S. Men’s Olympic Water Polo Team this summer in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Using performance analysis software such as SportsCode, La can record a complete 45-minute match and have any aspect of the match available for review at the click of a button. / photo by Michael Savall
Former La Verne water polo player and head coach Alex La served as a videographer for the U.S. Men’s Olympic Water Polo Team this summer in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Using performance analysis software such as SportsCode, La can record a complete 45-minute match and have any aspect of the match available for review at the click of a button. / photo by Michael Savall

Alexandra Felton
Staff Writer

For many athletes, it is a dream to be an Olympian. Seasonally, men and women attempt qualifying rounds for their sport and, regardless of talent and strength, do not pass their event. However, every four years, some have the opportunity to represent their country at Olympic Games participating in a sport they love, even if they are not competing.

This is the case for former La Verne water polo player and coach Alex La, who was on the coaching staff for the U.S. Olympic Men’s Water Polo team this summer in Rio de Janeiro.

“They didn’t need me to coach per se, but since I understood how they needed things it was an easy transition,” La said.

La graduated from junior college in the early 2000s before transferring to La Verne and playing on the water polo team from 2001 to 2002.

“La was the kind of guy that stood out by doing his job, scoring offense when he played and didn’t do it by being loud and obnoxious,” said Paul Alvarez, professor of kinesiology and clinical coordinator of the athletic training program.

La received his bachelor’s degree in business administration in 2003 and later received his master’s degree in marketing in 2005 at La Verne. He simultaneously gave back to the Leopard community as a volunteer, staff member and graduate assistant coach for La Verne’s water polo program.

La left La Verne as a coach to pursue a different line of work pertaining to his degrees, but found himself at Pomona-Pitzer’s water polo program as assistant coach.

He then assumed the temporary role of head coach for a year, while the former coach took a year-long sabbatical.

La stayed for two years when the former coach resigned.

During this time, he expanded his coaching and scouting skills in ways he did not know would be so important in the future, La said.

At Pomona-Pitzer, La has an unofficial title of scouting coach and team videographer.

He became versed with videographic technology to help improve team performance.

“Video analysis has really been the forefront of water polo,” La said.

His skills with the job opened the doors for him to participate in the Rio Olympics when the former coach could not go.

“(The coach) had something happen to which he couldn’t go to Rio anymore, and I was already well-versed in their software and how they coach,” La said.

As Pomona-Pitzer runs its program similarly to the national team, La said he had a good foundation and familiarity to work in Rio.

“It was really good timing and knowing how they wanted things in Rio made me the right guy for the job,” La said.

The invitation to work with videography came three weeks before the Olympics.

One week prior to the opening ceremony, La arrived in Rio to stay for the duration of the games. La said he was excited to represent his country in the sport he is passionate about.

He had unique and unforgettable experiences, such as walking in the opening and closing ceremonies and talking to a Serbian judo silver medalist.

“There is nothing that matches up to wearing the U.S. uniform next to thousands of people representing your country,” Alvarez said.

La said he left Rio with a sense of accomplishment and confidence in the work he does.

“My goal in Rio was to do enough so that people did not notice me,” La said.

“I wanted to do a good job so they held on to me for the next few years.”

Alexandra Felton can be reached at alexandra.felton@laverne.edu.

Related articles

After rocky start, physician’s assistant program set to end

The University of La Verne has ceased all new enrollment for the master of science physician assistant practice program in anticipation of a Jan. 1, 2025, program end.

Interfaith ideas connect health care providers and patients

Megan Granquist, director of the athletic training program and professor of kinesiology, presented “Interfaith and Health Care” on Tuesday in the Quay Davis Board Room to roughly 30 people.

Three-year calendar proposal would streamline planning

The University of La Verne is in the process of adopting a new three-year calendar plan that administrators hope streamline planning and help the school run more efficiently.

Faculty concerned about lack of urgency to fill open positions

Faculty in programs across the University have raised concerns about the dramatic loss of full-time faculty, the University’s failure to retain many of its full-time faculty, and the slow pace and procedure for replacing faculty who have left. 
Exit mobile version