Colorado Springs, CO—U.S. women’s water polo coach Guy Baker has been selected as the 2000 United Airlines/U.S. Water Polo Coach of the Year and will be honored, along with Developmental Coach of the Year, Randy DiMicali, at the USWP awards luncheon in January.
For Baker, this will be his second reign as the top coach in the sport. Baker was also named Coach of the Year as a National Team rookie coach in 1998. This year, however, Baker led the members of the U.S. women’s team from “last ditch qualifier” status to the proud owners of 13 silver medals.
“I feel really fortunate to have been named as the Coach of the Year,” said Baker, who also coaches at UCLA. “I’ve always said that coaches get too much
of the credit, or too much of the blame. But I’d rather be on the ‘too much credit side’. This is a great team and they’ve had a great year.”
The U.S., after missing out on an early Olympic qualification last year, secured its entitlement to an appearance in Sydney in late April with a win over Hungary at the Olympic Qualification Tournament in Palermo, Sicily.
After that, Baker and company scripted a storyline fit for Hollywood.
Team USA, who had now locked in its spot to compete at the first Olympics to include women’s water polo as a team sport, went on a tear over the next few months, most notably at the Holiday Cup in July. The Baker-led Stars and Stripers went undefeated against the whole of the Olympic field, winning six straight en route to the tournament crown. The U.S. managed to dispatch gold medal favorites Australia and Holland in the process, and consequently threw itself into the medal mix, no longer just a “last ditch qualifier.”
Baker then led the team up against the world at the 2000 Olympic Games, its only two losses coming to Australia, once in the preliminaries, and once in
the gold medal game. A new element had gripped women’s water polo…the crowd of 17,500 at the final match had vehemently declared the arrival of the sport on the spectator map. The largest crowd to ever take in a women’s water polo contest watched as the world’s two best teams battled down to the wire for the sport’s first-ever gold medal. And even though “Baker’s Dozen”
didn’t walk away with the gold, he had taken them further than anyone had imagined only a few short months earlier.
“I see this as a great honor, not just for myself, but for this team,” he said. “The players, the staff, the parents…everyone. So many factors go into success. This has been a great ride, and everyone’s pitched in.”
San Diego Shores Skipper Named USWP Developmental Coach of the Year
Colorado Springs, CO—For his accomplishments with San Diego Shores, Randy DiMicali has been named as the 2000 United Airlines/U.S. Water Polo Developmental Coach of the Year. DiMicali will be formally recognized at the USWP Awards Luncheon in January along with UA/USWP Coach of the Year, Guy
This is DiMicali’s first time being named as the Developmental Coach of the Year in over a decade of service and dedication to the sport.
“I am stoked,” he said, the Southern Californian in him shining through.
“It definitely is an honor to be in the company of previous winners. I
didn’t even expect this, primarily because there are so many deserving
coaches out there. I guess we must be doing something right, huh?”
Sufficed to say.
Over the last year, DiMicali and San Diego Shores have consistently demonstrated excellence in the sport.
For the second consecutive year, San Diego Shores took home gold from the men’s junior nationals, while the junior women won their first medal of any kind at the national level. Shores also took home the club title for the second year in a row at the National Junior Olympics, with a third straight gold going to the 16-under boys. Shores dominated the JO’s, with a team in
the final four of each age group…men and women included.
DiMicali has also been instrumental in bringing age group water polo to the forefront in the San Diego area. He helped establish the Grommet League, which runs in both the fall and the spring. The league, which started with six teams in 1993, has since blossomed to include 28 teams in 2000. DiMicali
also had his hand in starting the County Cup, which is held every spring. The 1993 County Cup featured 12 teams. The 2000 field included over 115
But DiMicali refuses to take all the credit for the rapid emergence of San Diego as a water polo Mecca on the west coast.
“I would like to share this award with Doug Peabody,” he said. “He has played an instrumental role in the development of this club, since we started it in 1992, as a coach, player, friend and business partner.”