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The562’s coverage of Long Beach Wilson Athletics is sponsored by Joel Bitonio, Class of 2009.
The Wilson High aquatics program has been historically successful in the pool, now the Bruins are trying a little something different on the pool deck.
Wilson announced Monday that alum Zach Polmanteer has been hired as the new boys’ water polo coach to take over for Jeff Nesmith. The school also added girls’ water polo coach Barry O’Dea as the new Director of Water Polo.
“We are excited for the opportunity to have two of the best coaches in the area lead our Bruins for years to come,” Wilson Assistant Principal Lloyd Wilson said.
Polmanteer, who graduated from Wilson in 2013, won a CIF title as a Bruin in 2011 and attended the University of Redlands. He’s coached with Whittier College, Shore Aquatics, Junior Olympics and has been an assistant for the Bruins for the last four years.
“To me, it’s the biggest privilege in the world to be able to join this legacy. It’s such an honor,” Polmanteer said. “It’s everything to me to continue the greatness of the community of Wilson aquatics.”
Polmanteer knows he has a lot of former coaches and mentors around the city and on campus who can give experienced advice. Obviously, all of that experience and mentorship has formed how Polmanteer wants to coach. Water polo legends Ricardo Azevedo and Rich Foster were part of the search committee.
“There’s going to be a lot of overlap from what I’ve learned from (Tony Martinho) and (O’Dea and Nesmith) but I’m definitely going to add my own element I’ve learned as a club coach,” Polmanteer said. “I’m going to mix a lot of elements. But we’re going to try to play like Wilson did in the early 2000’s and play really fast. We’ll be aggressive and in your face at all times. We’re going to play with a lot of hustle and grit.”
O’Dea, who is also a Wilson alum, took over the girls’ water polo program in 2018 when the Bruins won their first ever CIF title. He’s coached for almost 30 years and has had All-Americans and Olympians under his tutelage.
“We’re going to try and trailblaze this idea,” O’Dea said of becoming Director of Water Polo. “The boys and girls teams will be set in the same philosophies on how the teams are run. We’re going to keep Long Beach kids in Long Beach by creating a situation where we operate in very similar ways in the same progress and program to create a flagship.”
O’Dea and Polmanteer both said that the other coach will be on the pool deck with them during games to provide the most elite leadership available.
“I think it’s going to be a really cool mix together,” O’Dea said of their coaching styles.
The Wilson boys’ water polo team reached the CIF-SS Division 1 semifinals last season.