San Jose State named Bruce Watson head coach of the newly reinstated men’s water polo program on Saturday. His appointment was imminent, according to people with knowledge of the process, as soon as the university announced in August that it would reinstate the varsity men’s water polo program. The team will compete at the varsity level for the first time in 30 years.
Watson has been a key member of a group of alumni who organized the effort to bring back the program. Though the school has long intended to hire the highly successful coach, the announcement was delayed largely to allow Watson to complete his final season as coach of West Vally College. Watson won six state championships during his tenure at the highly regarded junior college.
The Spartans won an unofficial NCAA championship in 1968 and were runners up to UCLA in the 1971 championship tournament. Overall the team participated in four NCAA title tournaments in the 70s before the program was eliminated in 1981. The announcement from San Jose State’s Department of Athletics:
San Jose, Calif.—– Bruce Watson, a five-time California Community College Coach of the Year with more than 600 coaching victories in 31 seasons, accepted the position of head coach of the San José State University men’s water polo program. Gene Bleymaier, the Spartans director of athletics made the announcement.
Watson returns to San Jose State, his alma mater, after leading West Valley College to six California Community College state championships between 1998 and 2010 and 11 second-place finishes at the state tournament. His coaching record at West Valley was 638-184 covering the 1979 through 1984 and 1990 through 2014 seasons.
“We are extremely pleased to introduce Bruce Watson as San José State’s men’s water polo head coach. He built West Valley College into one of the best programs in the state of California and maintained the program at a very high level throughout his entire career,” says Bleymaier, who reinstated the Spartans’ men’s water polo program for the 2015 season after a 34-year hiatus. “As a San Jose State alum and one of the program’s best players, we know how much he wants the Spartan men’s water polo program to be one of the top programs in the country.”
A member of the San José State Sports Hall of Fame, Watson earned All-America honors playing for the 1971 and 1972 Spartan teams. San José State finished second and fourth, respectively, at the 1971 and 1972 NCAA Championships.
“It’s a real honor to be named the head coach and bring the program back. There is a tremendous history of men’s water polo at San Jose State,” says Watson. “Building the program from the ground up will be a real challenge. We’re starting in the fall (2015) and we have a lot of interest in the program.
“We are looking to play a pressing, fast-paced, counter-attack, motion-type of game. It will be a lot of fun.”
Watson’s post-collegiate water polo playing career includes playing on the 1976 through 1979 USA Senior National Teams and earning All-American honors in AAU and master’s water polo.