Gregg Emde, a decades-long fixture in the Missouri water polo community, died in a motorcycle crash on Wednesday in Jasper County, South Carolina. The news was first reported by The Island Packet. He was 53 years old.
Emde was named the first head coach of the newly minted varsity program at McKendree University in Lebanon, IL in 2015 after coaching the Lindenwood University men to a national collegiate club championship in 2014.
His coaching career included a 10-year stint at Marquette High School in St. Louis where he twice led the team to final-four appearances at the Missouri high school water polo championships.
Highly active in the development of area water polo athletes he founded Mad Dog Water Polo in 2000 and was head coach for the zone’s Olympic Development Program beginning in 2006. He was honored in 2013 with the Ted Newland National Developmental Coach of the Year award from USA Water Polo.
Emde was a standout poloist at Parkway West High School in St. Louis where he won a state championship and All-State honors. He was a member of the legendary Daisy Water Polo Club, which won Junior Olympics bronze in 1984. He was also among the most prominent referees in the Midwest both at the high school and amateur levels.
Emde moved to Okatie, SC in the summer of 2020 to take a position as an 8th grade virtual science teacher at the Robert Smalls International Academy in Beaufort. Wednesday’s accident took place in Jasper County approximately 10 miles north of Okatie after his motorcycle collided with a tree. The South Carolina Highway Patrol said Emde was not wearing a helmet according to The Island Packet.
News of his passing was met with social media condolences from USA Water Polo, McKendree University, and others who recognized Emde’s prominent role in the sport.
Gregg was the first @NCAA_Water_Polo coach at @McKendree_Polo and was a long time Club Coach in @MOWaPo and for @usawpODP. He committed his entire career to the sport and raised two upstanding young men within it.
Rest In Peace Coach Emde…your dedication will not be forgotten. https://t.co/3lHRmhdjvh
— Water Polo Coaches (@wpolocoaches) February 5, 2021
Our thoughts & prayers go out to the family & friends of former McKendree Head Coach Gregg Emde. Emde oversaw the launch of both our men’s & women’s water polo programs back in the 2015-16 season.#BearcatsUnleashed pic.twitter.com/OofaYwz8iO
— McKendree Bearcats (@McKBearcats) February 5, 2021
Total Waterpolo reported on Emde’s selection as the first coach at McKendree in 2015, the text of which is reprinted below.
Gregg Emde Named Varsity Head Coach and McKendree – CWPA
August 29, 2015
McKendree University has pried Greg Emde from Lindenwood’s national champion club team to lead its new varsity men’s and women’s water polo programs. The Lebanon, Illinois school posted the coaching job for their newly created Division II varsity programs in July.
Emde completed a perfect season with the men’s club team at Lindenwood, winning the school’s first Division I men’s championship in the fall of 2014 after defeating top seeded San Diego State, 13-8.
McKendree is likely to recruit from the robust high school programs centered in the suburbs of St. Louis, only 30 miles from the university. The Bearcats will begin play in the fall of 2016.