Marcelo Leonardi hired as water polo coach

By Brad Whipple, Daily Sports Writer
Published May 31, 2014

Any suspense over the future of the Michigan water polo team ended Friday, when the Wolverines named a new coach.

Athletic Director Dave Brandon named Marcelo Leonardi as the new head coach for the 2015 season.

“His experience as a player and coach at all levels of the sport will be extremely valuable for our program and the young women under his tutelage,” Brandon said in a statement, later citing Leonardi’s consistency in both the classroom and the pool.

Taking the reigns from Matt Anderson, who resigned on April 29 after 12 years, Leonardi will be the program’s third coach.

“It is an honor and a privilege to join the Michigan family,” Leonardi said in a statement. “The academic and athletic success found at Michigan is one of a kind.”

Leonardi comes to Michigan from Cal State Northridge, where his team has been nationally ranked in every year he has been head coach, including a program high this year at No. 7. Leonardi was 115-64 in five years at Cal State Northridge.

In his final campaign, the Matadors finished second in the Big West.

Also important to Leonardi are academics. Three years ago, he received his doctorate in educational leadership at Azusa Pacific in California. On top of his own accomplishments, his players have always averaged above a 3.0 grade-point average.

Leonardi couples an impressive collegiate résumé with six years of USA water polo experience. Currently the coach of the women’s national youth team, he and his team will compete at this summer’s Youth World Championships in Madrid. He also serves as the national technical director of the women’s Olympic Development Program, where he sets training routines for the athletes.

When Leonardi first moves to Ann Arbor in June, campus should feel a bit familiar. Back in his second year coaching the Matadors, his team lost to Michigan at Canham Natatorium in the opening match of the season.

Now, Leonardi could instead help sing “The Victors,” rather than let the tune leave a sour taste in his mouth.

“The culture that is embedded throughout all of Michigan’s programs is genuine and unique,” Leonardi said. “I look forward to being part of a rich tradition of excellence and a culture that fosters success.”