In the center of California stands a water polo program that has emerged from almost facing death a few short years ago. UC Davis staved off being cut as a program and is flourishing. The next step is returning to NCAAs and UC Davis has an outstanding shot of making that happen this Fall.
UC Davis is coming off a strong season that saw you end the 2014 season ranked thirteenth in the country. What does UC Davis need to do to win the WWPA and get back to NCAAs?
Actually last season was disappointing. While we played well at times, we were not able to execute consistently at a level that resulted in victories. We lost a lot of tough close games and had some defeats that were truly painful. We did not reach the goals we have set for our program. However, I do believe that we will be better this year for having gone through what we did last year and I expect better results. It’s no secret that in the WWPA what’s important is to play well at tournament time in November. This year WWPA’s will have an added level of difficulty because it is at USAFA, at altitude. That being said, in order for us to be successful, we need to be playing at our best at the end of the season.
I saw your squad took a training trip to Spain this summer. Can you tell us a little about that experience?
We had an outstanding experience in Barcelona. We trained really hard twice a day for most days, and we played against teams that, for the most part, were better than us, which is what we wanted. As the trip went on we were able to adjust to the different style of play in Europe and we got a lot better. Away from water polo our team had a lot of fun and grew closer as a group. It was a memorable experience to say the least.
The Aggies return All-WWPA performer Sean Grab for this Fall. Can you tell us a little about him and what makes him the outstanding player that he is?
Sean played great for us last season. And he has had a tremendous off-season in which he has worked extremely hard, grown as a player and has played an important leadership role on our team. Sean is mature, dedicated, tough, talented, and a hard worker. This is why he is so important to our team. I expect great things from him this season.
Cory Laidig and Spencer Creed also return from last season's strong cast of newcomers. What makes them the tremendous performers that they are?
Both Cory and Spencer are exceptional members of our team. Cory does all the little things that make a team work, and Spencer is a talented goalkeeper that now has a year of Division 1 water polo under his belt. Both are steadily growing
I noted you signed a stellar recruiting class with two international players that represented their country's Junior National squads and one who was in Sports Illustrated. Can you tell us a little about that group?
Although our incoming class has only been with us a short period of time, I am pleasantly surprisexd at their level of play. I expect some of our true freshmen to play right away and make a big impact. And I expect the other players in the class to redshirt and contribute after one or two years of training. Overall this is a great recruiting class and I look for big things from them both now and down the road.
Leading the Aggies is Dan Leyson. The third-year Head Coach of the Aggies has been a roaring success thus far. In his first campaign, he led UC Davis to a perfect conference record and spot in the Western Water Polo Association title game. Last season, UC Davis finished third at WWPAs. I sat down with the former U.S. National team player to discuss his squad and below is our interview.