Aggies and Crimson have battled to one-goal games in past three meetings
Thanks to a generous donation from the families of two former UC Davis student-athletes, the head men’s water polo coaching position was renamed as the Child And Meisel Families Director of Men’s Water Polo in January 2017. It became the first endowed coaching position in Aggie athletics history.
The new title was bestowed upon Daniel Leyson, who was announced as the program mentor on May 22, 2013. Owning more than 30 years of experience at both the collegiate and international levels, Leyson enters his fifth season at the Aggie helm.
Leyson brought an immediate impact to UC Davis men’s water polo, guiding the Aggies to an undefeated conference record in his first year. The 2015 squad then reached new heights: the program’s best win-loss percentage (.692) since 2007 and the highest national ranking (No. 9) since 2011. For his achievements, Leyson was awarded the Monte Nitzkowski Distinguished Men’s Coaching Award by USA Water Polo. He also served as the head coach for USA NorCal in the second season of the USAWP National League.
Never one to rest on laurels, Leyson continues to raise the bar for Aggie men’s water polo. In 2016, the former U.S. National Team player and coach guided UC Davis to its first Western Water Polo Association championship and NCAA postseason appearance since 1997. Leyson was subsequently named as WWPA Coach of the Year. That 2016 squad set school records for wins (23), winning percentage (.793), goals scored (12.6 per game) and final national ranking (No. 10).
Leyson's experience in Spain later paid dividends in his coaching career: the 2015 Aggies took part in an eight-day team training camp at the Barcelona International Water Polo Academy.
After concluding his playing career in 1998 with Club Natacio Atletic-Barceloneta, a 1st-division Spanish team, Leyson embarked on his coaching career at USC where he assisted Vavic from 2000-02. The 2000 Trojans team finished third at the NCAA Championship.
Leyson gained valuable international experience from 2002-04 while working with Rudic on the U.S. National Team. The U.S. participated in the FINA World League, 2003 World Championships and 2003 Pan American Games before heading to Athens.
From 2005 until his arrival at UC Davis, Leyson served as head coach of the Rose Bowl Water Polo Club, which has tripled its membership to more than 200 members representing 70 schools during his tenure. He earned Best Coach accolades in the 2010 Ironman League while leading the 16-under boys team to the league's championship.
Leyson was named winner of the Bill Barnet Distinguished Men's Coach Award (Scholastic) from the U.S.A Water Polo Assembly in 2011. Three of his boys teams that year captured gold medals at the South Florida International competition. He also served as head coach for the California Coastal Zone for the Olympic Development Team (2006-07).
Leyson has served as UCLA's assistant coach for the past two seasons, helping them to a championship in the powerful Mountain Pacific Sports Federation and a pair of runner-up finishes at the NCAA Championships.
Leyson earned his undergraduate degree in business from USC in 1992 and his master's in physical education, with an emphasis on coaching, from Ball State in 2008.
He and his wife, Camille, are parents to daughter Mia and twin sons, Benjamin and Silas.