Interview with Strake Jesuit (TX) Head Coach Brian Chambers

Recently the Houston Chronicle placed Strake Jesuit among the favorites to win the 2012 TISCA (Texas) Championships which will take place at the University of Texas in Austin on May 4-5. Total Waterpolo will be there but had the chance to interview their head coach, Brian Chambers, this week. Some highlights: Liam Jennis will be playing at Loyola Marymount next season and, surprisingly, Coach Chambers will not return to coach Strake Jesuit in 2013.

What were your expectations at the beginning of the season and how has your season matched them
Expectations at the beginning of this season were very high…We have had a fantastic season so far and they have all exceed my expectations so far. This is a wonderful group of young men and I have learned from them hopefully just as much as they have from me.  I have been blessed to work with such a wonderful group who are truly MEN FOR OTHERS.

What’s your story? Where did you learn your water polo and how did you end up at Strake Jesuit?
I was born in Valencia California, and my father was in oil so we moved around a bit. We went from California to Alaska down to Texas…My older brother attended Strake and started playing, which helped introduce me to the game. I would later come to Strake Jesuit and join the water polo team. I began playing as a Freshman in high school all the way through my Senior year. I attended Texas Tech University for college and they did not have a water polo program at all. So after finding guys to mess around with for a few years I founded the Texas Tech Water Polo Club team in 2003. I played for two years but found myself in a coaching position my Senior year.  I never expected to continue with water polo after college…One day I stopped by Jesuit and met with Thomas Walker  and he asked me if I would help with the JV kids. So I spent about 3 years volunteering my time to coach them. After that St. Agnes hired me to take over their JV team. With job security in need I would leave the pool scene only to find myself back at Strake two years later.  I can’t ever seem to get too far away from the sport of water polo and don’t want to.

Share something about Strake Jesuit water polo in general. What are the historical highlights of your program? Do you have any established rivalries?
Strake Jesuit’s water polo program was started in 1988 by Bob Horn. As far as history goes we have had some great players at Strake Jesuit and for many years never had our own pool to use. The program has grown and having our own facility now has helped. Our school placed 2ND in state twice in 24 years. 1992 and 2002. Every ten years we make it to the finals but have never won.  This is our year to break this  trend. A huge highlight for the program is this season. A big highlighted win was our first game of the season Against St. Mark’s, which is considered the top team in the state by many. We have 30 straight wins and 5 Tournament wins including Regional Champs. It has been an unforgettable year. This season I would say everyone is our rival because we don’t want to lose. In years past other rivalries have been Clear Lake, Cy Creek and the Woodlands.

Jennis and Zuiker are your best players according to the Chronicle. What goals do they, and players like them, have for college? Are they being recruited to varsity programs? It seems that a lot of Texas players prefer to stay in Texas and play college club. Is that correct?
Liam Jennis will be attending Loyola Marymount in California to continue his water polo career. Nate Zuiker will be attending the University of Texas  in Austin but will continue to play water polo with the club at UT and join his older brother. These young men are gifted young men with their skills in and out of the classroom. They considered other schools such as Notre Dame, Santa Clara and Air Force. I have no doubt that these young men will go far in life in or out of the pool. I would agree and say that many Texas players tend to stay in Texas and play college club.

Do you have any plans to play outside Texas in 2013? If so, where? 
I’m not sure the future of this program unfortunately, because Strake Jesuit is not keeping me on as coach. The reasons are unclear and weren’t explained to me well as to why I’m being let go, but as of right now I will not be returning. Plans that I had for the program were to travel play west coast to help and develop our younger players. I would of also like to get the team to the DeSmet Tournament in St. Louis next year. Many of the boys participate in the Junior Olympic Program in the summer as well as our summer club league called the Jalapeno league. This gives our players a chance to play all year. So I will be taking part in that this summer with many of them, and this is something that hopefully the program will continue to push.