In just his fourth season as a collegiate head coach, Kyle Witt is starting to turn some heads, adding to the water polo program's tradition of winning and championships. The 2012-13 season will be his fourth at the helm of the Lions and he will enter the season with a record of 76-25 at LMU.
Witt, who was a player for former Head Coach John Loughran on the first championship men's team in 2001, was named the second head coach of the women's program and in just his first season, added to the Lions' history of success. Witt led the Lions to the 2010 Western Water Polo Association Championship, and then guided the Lions back to the title in 2012, the program's ninth in the last 10 years and Witt's second in three seasons.
Witt was named the 2011 WWPA Coach of the Year and has coached the last three WWPA Player of the Year winners (2010 - Anne Scott; 2011 - Kim Benedetti; 2012 - Casey Flacks). He has seen seven different players earn 11 All-American honors in just three seasons. He has also coached 17 All-WWPA selections, including a record seven in 2012. The Lions also earned the institutions top honor as the GPA Award Winner (team with the highest GPA).
Adding to the program's list of accomplishments, Witt helped guide the Lions to a 28-6 overall record in 2010, the second best in program history, and the No. 4 ranking in the final national poll. In 2012, the finished 22-10 and earned a pair of wins in the NCAA tournament, defeating Pomona-Pitzer and Princeton.
Included in the final record of 2010 was a 5-4 win over No. 1 UCLA in the 2010 National Collegiate Women's Water Polo Championship quarterfinals. It was the first win for the Lions of a top-ranked program, the first over then five-time defending champion UCLA and as the No. 6 seed, the Lions became the lowest seed to advance since the field expanded to eight teams.
The year of 2010 was a good one for Witt. In addition to his success with the Lions, Witt turned heads at the club level as well. He is the head coach of the 18 and Under Los Angeles Water Polo girls' squad. Witt coached the group to a Gold Medal at the S & R Sport Junior Olympics. Earlier in the summer Witt took the 20 & Under squad and Open Division group from LA Water Polo and snagged two more Gold Medals at the USA Water Polo National Championships.
All the success earned Witt the 2011 Sandy Nitta Distinguished Women's Coaching Award, given by the US Water Polo Association. As established in 2010, the awards have each been named in honor of a person or persons who have made an extraordinary contribution to the sport. Winners were chosen through a zone nomination process and then reviewed by a national selection panel. Wiit will be honored during the USA Water Polo's Annual Awards dinner, set for January 15 at the Hilton Costa Mesa in Costa Mesa, California in conjunction with the USA Water Polo Assembly.
Witt had been the Associate Head Coach for both men and women's programs at LMU the prior two seasons before Athletic Director Dr. William Husak decided it was time to split the two programs, and give them their own head coach. John Loughran, who has been at the helm of both programs the last 12 years, remains as the men's head coach, leading the men to their eighth title in 10 years in 2010.
Loughran turned the reigns of the women's program over to someone who helped build that success. Witt rejoined the Lions as an assistant coach in 2007 and then was promoted to associate head coach in 2008. The Lions had won a combined three conference titles in the two years he was an assistant at LMU.
Witt was a four-time All-Western Water Polo Association selection from 1998-2001 at LMU and graduated in 2002.
Prior to returning to his alma mater, Witt was the head coach at Gannon University in Erie, Penn. He spent two seasons at the helm of the men's program at Gannon while serving as coach of the women's program for one season. Witt went 17-27 in two seasons with the men (9-13 in 2005 and 8-14 in 2006) and went 11-11 in one season with the women.
"I loved my time as a player at LMU and I was honored to return as an assistant coach several years ago," said Witt. "And now, to be given the opportunity to be a head water polo coach at my alma mater, is amazing. I am excited to build on the impressive tradition coach (Loughran) has established."
Witt also coached as an assistant at Whittier (Calif.) College, helping the school post a 23-10 record, culminating with the school's first Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) Championship in 2004.
Prior to his stay at Whittier, Witt was an assistant men and women's water polo coach at Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach, Calif., from 2002-04. He helped the boy's team to the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Southern Section Championship in one season and a Final Four appearance in the other.
Witt began his coaching career as the Rose Bowl aquatic coach in 1999 before assuming the head water polo coaching position at Westridge School for Girls in Pasadena, Calif., in 2001.
Witt has continued to work for the Los Angeles Water Polo Club where he has coached several Division I athletes, including current Lions, Kristine Cato, Casey Flacks, and Erin Manke. In his three seasons with LAWPC coaching the girl's 18U age group twice and the boy's 18U age group he has compiled an overall record of 63 wins, 16 loses, and 3 ties. The Los Angeles Water Polo Club 18U girl's team highest finish was 10th at the National Junior Olympics before Kyle was able to lead the team to 5th in 2007 and 2nd in 2008. In his time with the Los Angeles Water Polo Club Witt has coached 6 Junior Olympic All-Americans and helped place 10 athlete's at Division I institutions.
Prior to coaching, Witt made a name for himself at LMU as a player. Witt is sixth all-time in LMU history with 118 games played, tied for sixth all-time in goals with 152, sixth in assists with 81, and sixth in steals with 91. Witt led the Lions to the program's first Western Water Polo Association championship and to the NCAA Final Four during his senior season in 2001.