Steve Heaston, USA Water Polo’s Technical Director and head coach of Cal Berkeley passed away at his Pleasant Hill home Thursday morning after a long battle with brain cancer. He was 50. A memorial service for Heaston will be held at a future date.
Heaston was an assistant coach of the USA Olympic Water Polo team that won the silver medal at the 1988 Olympic Games and was the head coach of Team USA which won the World University Games in 1993. During his 10-year tenure as head coach of Cal, Heaston guided Cal to third place or better in the NCAA Tournament seven times. He led Cal to a second-place national finish in his first year as head coach in 1989 before taking the Bears to NCAA titles in 1990, ’91 and ’92. In 1993 and ’94, his Cal squads placed third at the NCAAs, and in 1995 Heaston’s young team placed second at the national championship. Heaston was named conference Coach of the Year four times, most recently in 1995, and was voted NCAA Coach of the Year in 1990 and ’92. He compiled an impressive 224-56 record for an .800 winning percentage.
Prior to accepting Cal’s head coaching position, Heaston was an assistant for the Bears from 1982-88 under Pete Cutino. He was a part of seven NCAA title winning teams, having aided Cal as an assistant coach in the Bears championship seasons of 1983, ’84, ’87 and ’88.
Heaston launched his coaching career at Acalanes High School in 1971, a program that he built into a national powerhouse during his 10-year tenure. Acalanes captured six North Coast Section championships and produced 38 high school All-Americans along the way. When Heaston left his Acalanes position after the 1980 season, he owned a 183-57 (.763) career record.
In the summer’ Heaston ran the Concord Water Polo Club, USA Water Polo’s largest water polo club with over 400 members, from 10 and under to master age athletes.
Heaston was hired as USA Water Polo’s Technical director in January of 1997 and in 1998, he was elected to the USA Water Polo Hall of Fame. His induction was to take place on Saturday, July 17th in Newport Beach.
A 1970 graduate of Fresno State, Heaston earned his master’s degree in physical education from Saint Mary’s College in 1982. Heaston is survived by his wife, Marsha, and three children, Karen, Kristin and Brian.