Monte Nitzkowski, among the most influential and well respected water polo coaches in US history, has died at the age 0f 86. Officials at USA Water Polo confirmed the news that began to spread on social media on Friday.
Inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1991, Nitzkowski helmed the US men’s Olympic teams in 1972, 1980, and 1984. He led the team to bronze and silver medals in the Munich and Los Angeles Games. Team USA boycotted the 1980 Olympics in Moscow.
He played for UCLA in 1950-51 after transferring from Fullerton Junior College, after which he took the head coaching position at Long Beach City College. There he won 32 conference water polo championships and became one of the most recognized teachers of the game in the US and beyond.
A video recently posted by the organization features a young Nitzkowski teaching counter-attack and extra-man tactics in a development film produced in 1965 and narrated by film star Burt Lancaster.
Friends and admirers took to social media in response to the news:
RIP Monte Nitzkowski. A great man who made a huge impact in our sport. I will miss you! pic.twitter.com/2m3PpmeLb6
— Brown Water Polo (@brownwaterpolo) July 29, 2016
A dear friend and Olympic Coach has passed. RIP Monte Nitzkowski. Aloha pic.twitter.com/gkn1ZfrwSP
— hawaiiwaterpolo (@hawaiiwaterpolo) July 29, 2016
Nitzkowski previewed the 2012 Olympics with Total Waterpolo. Read the interview here.