All of The562’s water polo coverage for the 2021-22 school year is sponsored by Aqualand. Visit AqualandOfTheFree.com to learn more.
The Millikan Rams have new leadership for their boys’ aquatics program after the hiring of accomplished water polo player and coach Randy Wright. A Long Beach native, Wright is excited to be back in his hometown where his love of water polo first began.
Wright had an All-American career as a player at nearby Los Alamitos High, then went onto UCLA where he had tremendous success with the Bruins, winning national championships in 1995 and ‘96. Speaking of UCLA, Randy’s brother, Adam Wright, has been the head coach of the Bruins’ men’s water polo program since 2009 and is a four-time National Coach of the Year.
During his playing career, Wright was coached by some of the biggest names in water polo, including Ricardo Azevedo, Guy Baker, Ken Lindgren, and Monte Nitzkowski. Solidifying his Long Beach bona fides, Wright points out that his first job ever was as a lifeguard at the Belmont Plaza Pool.
After his playing days were finished, Wright became a water polo official and a coach. He spent 15 years as the head women’s water polo coach at the College of San Mateo and has recently been coaching at Visalia High since his return to Southern California in 2018. But he always knew he wanted to end up back in Long Beach.
“It was always on the radar to be close to home, get back to my local roots, and be able to ride my bike to work,” said Wright. “I feel like I’ve almost come back to full circle … As I stated in my interview, this is where my end game is. This is where I want to ride off into the sunset, by teaching and coaching in the Long Beach Unified School District.”
“We couldn’t be more excited to have Coach Wright join our coaching staff,” said Millikan athletic director Kacey Mendoza. “He comes with a very strong water polo and swim background and will make an impact within our aquatics program immediately.”
Wright acknowledged that there would be a transition period as he takes over at Millikan, where the Rams lost a solid group of seniors and should have a young roster for the upcoming season. But Wright is focused on long-term program building with the Rams, working on both the mental and physical aspects of the sport.
“My number one priority is to change the culture of aquatics at Millikan,” Wright said. “It’s time for Millikan to realize there isn’t a single dominant team (in the Moore League). Poly is very strong this year and they have every bit of chance of being league champions in boys water polo as well as Wilson. But we are going to get out of the gate establishing this framework that we are here for a reason. We are here to become the best we can be.”