Passages: Arthur Lambert, U.S. Water Polo Hall of Fame Coach, 86

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Photo Courtesy: NCAA

Passages: Arthur Lambert, U.S. Water Polo Hall of Fame Coach, 86

Arthur Lambert, the Hall of Fame coach of the 1968 U.S. Olympic team, died on Aug. 26. Lambert was 86 years old. He died from complications of Parkinson’s disease.

On the international stage, he led Team USA to gold at the 1967 Pan Am Games. (As a player, he was an alternate for the Pan Am Games four years earlier.) Lambert coached the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, in which the Americans finished fifth. He earned a bronze medal at the 1972 Games in Munich as an assistant to Monte Nitzkowski. He also won an NCAA championship at Stanford.

A native of San Francisco, Lambert was an accomplished player, first at Sequoia High School, then at San Jose State. At the latter, he was a team captain and three-time All-American. He won a pair of national titles for the storied Olympic Club, in 1957 and 1959.

After military service, he earned a master’s degree at SJSU. He coached at Awalt High School from 1961-67, winning four Northern California water polo championships. He led De Anza Community College from 1968-73, winning six Golden Gate Conference titles, six Northern California championships and the 1971 state title. He won six AAU titles at Foothill and De Anza Aquatic Foundation.

After his time with the national team, Lambert moved on to coach Stanford from 1974-76, winning the program’s first national title in 1976 and a pair of Pac-10 titles. Just the second coach in program history, he went 55-17 in charge, giving way to legendary coach Dante Dettamanti in 1977.

Lambert was inducted to the U.S. Water Polo Hall of Fame in 1985 and the San Jose Sports Hall of Fame in 2011.

At Stanford, Lambert began to move away from water polo. He was the inaugural coach of Stanford’s men’s volleyball team in 1977 and also helped the women’s team transition from club to varsity status. After a break from coaching, he returned to build Notre Dame’s women’s volleyball program from 1984-90. He continued to coach club volleyball after that and moved in the 1980s to Idaho, where he lived at the time of his death.

He authored two books, The Technique of Water Polo (with Robert Gaughran) in 1968, and The Realistic Approach to Coaching in 1986.

Lambert is survived by his wife of 42 years, Mary Jo Lambert; son and daughter from his first wife, Dana Williamson, Greg (Kelly) and Gena (Michael) Muehle; stepdaughter Geneva Tracy (Scott) Campo; stepson Grant (Nicole) Tracy; and grandchildren Ben, Matthew and Sam Lambert; Gisella Campo; Jared and Jake Tracy.

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