ALISO VIEJO, Calif., September 2. SOKA University of America (SUA) has announced the hiring of its first head coach in Intercollegiate Athletics. Dr. Dave Salo, Ph.D has been named Director of Aquatics, overseeing both swimming & diving and water polo. He will be in charge of all aspects of his program for both men and women student-athletes.
A head track and field coach was also named.
"Both of these positions are critical to the future success of our Intercollegiate Athletics program at Soka University,” said Keith Shackleford, Director of Athletics at SUA.
"As the Founding Members of our coaching staff, their ability to coach, recruit, and bring competitive success to Soka University will provide a foundation for our future sports, coaches and student-athletes.”
Salo may be regarded as one of the premier hires in small college athletics. As exhibited by his most recent stint as an Assistant Coach for the USA World Championship Team in 2003, Coach Salo will provide a world-class training environment for SUA student-athletes.
"Coach Salo brings immediate legitimacy to our entire Athletic program”, said Shackleford. "His coaching success and recruiting contacts on a national and international level mean we’ll be able approach talented student-athletes from around the globe. In keeping with the Mission of the University, he’ll bring a new level of diversity and excellence to our student population."
"I am excited about being the founding director of aquatics at Soka University” said Salo. "The challenge of recruiting the first competitive team is made easier with the energy and excitement of this young university and a visionary athletic department.
"Soka combines a great educational opportunity and a vision of excellence that will attract student-athletes eager to excel, both in the classroom and in the athletic arena. The environment for competitive success is second to none and is on par with most Division I institutions. We will recruit the same student-athletes as Stanford, USC and UCLA-and we will certainly get our share of the top talent."
Coach Salo comes to SUA from the Irvine Novaquatics swim club (NOVAS) where he has served as Head Coach since the fall of 1990. The NOVAS are a USA Swimming Gold Medal Club and one of the world’s premier swimming organizations. Since becoming Head Coach of the NOVAS, Salo has guided the club to USA National Championships in the Men’s, Women’s, Combined, and Combined Under-18 categories, as well as countless age group championships (BC and Junior Olympic) and several Junior National Team Championships.
For his efforts, Salo was presented with USA Swimming’s Doc Counsilman Award as Coach of the Year in 2002. This in a year that saw Salo lead his team to the Spring and Summer USA National Championship titles, highlighted by the world record performance of Aaron Peirsol in the 200 meter backstroke that Spring.
Along with team championships, Salo has coached several swimmers to the USA National Team. Including multiple Olympic Gold Medalist Amanda Beard, Salo coached five swimmers – Aaron Peirsol, Jason Lezak, Gabrielle Rose, and Staciana Stitts – who represented the USA at the 2000 Olympic Games, bringing home five medals. Salo served as assistant coach for the USA Women's team in the 1999 Pan American Games as well as the 2000 Olympic Games and served as Head Coach of the USA Men's Team at the Goodwill Games in 2001. The list of dominant swimmers of this generation who have trained under Coach Salo includes Hayley Peirsol, Dave Denniston, Scott Tucker, Brad Schumacher, Diana McManus, and Colleen Lanne.
The NOVAS placed seven swimmers on the 2002 Pan Pacific Championship Team that summer coming away with 5 gold medals, 3 silver medals and one bronze medal. In addition, long-time NOVA alum Amanda Beard came away with 2 golds and 1 silver.
Salo came to the Novas from the University of Southern California, where he served as Assistant Men's Coach under legendary Head Coach, Peter Daland. While at USC, Salo also served as recruiting coordinator during his final two years at the university. During Salo's tenure, the Trojans earned NCAA top five honors, taking second in 1986 and 1987.
Recently, Salo has also been the Co-Head Coach of the Women’s team at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, CA. In his third season, the Pirates won the 2003 State Championship, as Salo was awarded State Co-Coach of the Year honors.
Salo is a graduate of Long Beach State (B.A. and M.A.) and earned his doctorate in Exercise Physiology from the University of Southern California in 1991.