NCAA champ takes helm for water polo

Now in its third year, the water polo program took its next big step when the Athletic Department hired new coach, Sam Bailey, a winner of three NCAA championships.  Whereas previous coach Peter Lambert coached both the swim and water polo teams, Bailey will focus only on water polo.

Now in its third year, the water polo program took its next big step when the Athletic Department hired new coach, Sam Bailey, a winner of three NCAA championships. Whereas previous coach Peter Lambert coached both the swim and water polo teams, Bailey will focus only on water polo.

Wings and sweeps. Sets and points. Wet passes and dry passes. Thanks to new coach Sam Bailey, members of the water polo team are making these terms a meaningful part of their lingo.

Though many players are veterans, they’re finding they have plenty to learn from Bailey, who won three national titles when he played at UCLA.

“We are learning to be more official water polo players. We are talking about new positions, and most importantly, we are learning how to function as a six man team,” said Cami ’10, who has been on the water polo team for the past three years.

The program, which includes varsity and middle school teams, started three years ago. For the first two seasons, swim coach Peter Lambert was the coach.

Hiring a new coach who will focus only on water polo was a big step in developing the team. Bailey, in addition to his success as a college athlete, has coached at UCLA and Stanford at the NCAA Division I level.

Lambert, who is assisting Bailey, said that he and Athletic Director David Collicutt have wanted to hire an experienced water polo coach all along.

“I am happy the school’s need for a water polo coach has been taken care of at a higher level. Marlborough is very lucky to have him as a coach,” he said.

Collicutt and Lambert interviewed six candidates and the process included observing them coach a practice with the team.

“Coach Bailey has a great grasp of the sport. He plays at the highest level and coaches at the highest level. When you see a coach like that, who connects with the players and coaches in that way, you know he’s the right fit,” said Collicutt.

Bailey said, however, that the team’s success this year will be determined by its improvements.

The team will play a mix of varsity and JV competitions this season. Their first two matches were against varsity teams and they beat Westridge 9-8 and lost to Mayfield 14-2.

Over break, they will gain experience in a JV tournament in Burbank and then return to varsity competition.

Bailey said that he looks forward to the program moving forward not just this season, but over the long run.

“I eventually want to start a water-polo club on campus to hopefully attract more players,” he said. “It will take a couple of years, but we want to eventually join a league and compete in CIF.”