SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The UC Santa Barbara women's water polo team has shored up its coaching staff with the addition of former Whittier assistant coach and Loyola Marymount standout Laura Lopez, the team announced this week.
"I had the pleasure of coaching Laura when she competed on the Youth National Team. She was a fierce competitor with a high water polo IQ that has played and competed with the best," head coach Serela Kay said. "Her strong work ethic will fit right into the Gaucho way. I have no doubt these qualities will also shine through her coaching and will immediately strengthen our program."
Lopez joins the Gauchos following a successful stint as a graduate assistant coach for the Whittier men's and women's water polo programs. During her two years with the Poets, neither program ever fell short of reaching the SCIAC Tournament final four, as Lopez helped guide her teams to four semi-final appearances, two runner-up finishes, and a combined 64-57 record.
"I am very excited to continue my coaching career at UCSB," Lopez said. "I am looking forward to working with the women's water polo team and Serela, and seeing what we can do this coming season in the Big West Conference."
Prior to her coaching days, Lopez was a key contributor to an LMU team that took home three league titles in four years, also earning one NCAA Tournament berth in 2012. Excellent both in the pool and in the classroom, she closed out her playing career as a two-time All-League selection and four-time ACWPC All-Academic honoree.
Serving as the team's captain during her senior year in 2015, Lopez would bring her career tallies to 166 goals and 110 assists, which at the time ranked her ninth and fourth all-time in program history, respectively. Her 131 career appearances also set a school record.
Following her senior season, Lopez played professionally for the second-ranked team in Italy's top-flight water polo league, Serie A1, for four months to close out 2015. She also has several years of experience to her name playing for the USA Youth and Junior National Team from 2008-11.
This summer, Lopez spent time as a girl's aquatics coach and pool coordinator at Warren High School in Downey, Calif. She has also served as a swim elective course at Whittier College and an age group water polo coach for both the Admiral Water Polo Foundation and the Rose Bowl Water Polo Club.