May 22, 2013
DAVIS, Calif. - Daniel Leyson, who brings more than 25 years of high-level coaching and playing experience at the collegiate and international levels, has been named UC Davis men's water polo head coach, it was announced on Wednesday by Director of Athletics Terry Tumey.
"I am honored and excited to have been chosen as the next men's water polo coach for UC Davis," Leyson said. "I believe this program has great potential and I am ready to begin working together with the players to create a new standard of excellence for the men's water polo program."
Leyson's experience features roles as assistant coach at perennial powers UCLA (2011-13) and USC (2000-02), as well as serving as an assistant for the U.S. men's water polo national team when it participated in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.
He's worked alongside 10-time national coach of the year Jovan Vavic at USC and assisted legendary coach Ratko Rudić, coach of four Olympic gold medal teams. Leyson was a three-time All-America player at USC from 1990-92 who went to play for the U.S. National Team in 1994-95 and later internationally in Barcelona, Spain.
"You have to have a great background as a player and a coach when you're trying to prepare yourself to become a head coach, and Dan has done both," said former Stanford coach and UC Davis alum Dante Dettamanti who led the Cardinal to eight NCAA Championships while amassing more than 600 wins. "He knows what it takes to build a successful program."
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 Rudić 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.
Since 2005, he's been the 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.
"My goal is to build a new standard of excellence in all aspects of the program, in and out of the water," Leyson said. "Through our diligent preparation and attention to detail, we will strive to create a level of execution and teamwork that will bring us great results.
"We are going to work very hard so that together we can create great things at UC Davis," he added. "I cannot wait to begin this process."
Tumey said Leyson is a great fit for UC Davis.
"Our goal is to build excellence throughout our entire athletics program and Daniel is exemplary of that mission," he said. "He is well-known and respected in the water polo community and brings a high-level of expertise to the Aggie water polo team."
Dettamanti said Leyson is ready for his first collegiate head-coaching opportunity.
"He's a great selection for head coach," he said. "He's got an excellent background and is young and enthusiastic. He's also coached with Ratko Rudić who many consider to be the top coach in the world."
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 (3) and twin sons, Benjamin and Silas (1).
UC Davis competes in the Western Water Polo Association. Leyson replaces Steve Doten who stepped aside in March.