Water polo promotes new co-head coach

first_imgTwo brains are better than one · After leading the men’s water polo program solo for 21 seasons, Jovan Vavic is promoting long-time assistant and former player Marko Pintaric to a co-coaching position. Daily Trojan file photoThe men’s water polo team has consistently been a dominant force in the pool and is now adding a second head coach to their ranks. Marko Pintaric, recently named co-head coach of the men’s water polo program, adds to this intense atmosphere, joining head coach Jovan Vavic by the pool.During the spring, Pintaric was in full control of the men’s team. While head coach Jovan Vavic would most likely be yelling at the women’s team he also coaches, Pintaric, nicknamed “Pinta” by his players, would be ripping a male athlete, even though they won’t play a game until September. This shows a fundamental aspect of the program: Even during offseason, it is still important for each player to give 100 percent during practice.“During the offseason, all the guys enjoy Pinta’s style just as much as Jovan’s, and we are all eager to get better and get ready for the upcoming season,” junior James Walters said.Though Pintaric may yell, he also brings an aura of understanding to each practice, as he has been on the receiving end of all the yelling himself. Before Pintaric was on the coaching staff, he played collegiately for the Trojans in 1997 and 1998. He scored an iconic buzzer beater goal from half the length of the pool to win the 1998 National Championship and was named National Player of the Year. He graduated with a degree in communication and went on to pursue a master’s degree in the same subject.Pintaric, who hails from Zagreb, Croatia, explained that one of the biggest benefits of playing under Vavic is the connection he has with the international players. Only someone who has been a student athlete at USC can understand the difficulty of the task. Since he has experienced both sides, Pintaric has picked up little shortcuts that can help players succeed  in school and water polo.“You face adversity being a student athlete at USC,” Pintaric said. “You are competing with the best kids in the world in the classroom and in the pool. You have to not only be eligible, but you’re also working to win a national championship.”Another perk of playing under Vavic was how much Pintaric learned from him about his coaching philosophy. Pintaric said that Vavic is the most diligent coach he has played for and he has picked up on many of his habits. Vavic is not known to let any pass — let alone practice — slide without scrutiny, and his contagious work ethic was passed along to Pintaric.“Pinta, as a coach, is very good at ironing out all the kinks, especially the little things that we don’t see,” Walters said. “He helps us see things in new ways, like with shooting, passing and different variations of defense.”Since Pintaric began coaching in 1999, his specialty has been coaching the goalies, even though he himself never played the position. The first goalie he coached was still a close friend, as they were on the team together the previous year.“Coaching goalies was completely unknown to me,” Pintaric said. “The position has taught me to look at water polo from a different angle, which has helped my learning curve in any aspect of the game, not just coaching the goalies.”In this year’s Olympics alone, Pintaric has three goalies who he has previously or currently coached participating, representing the United States, Australia and Brazil. In 2012, he had four who represented the United States and Australia.Pintaric tells his players that they must have the right combination of willingness to work hard and love for the game. He encourages them to correct their mistakes and to remember their goals. Pintaric is also constantly looking for new ways to improve his players. He finds that watching endless games of water polo and talking to great goalie coaches has helped him find a technique that works for him.“Their goals are constantly there during training, not just to do well at USC, but to better themselves as humans and to do the best they can,” Pintaric said.Though Pintaric is now co-head coach, he says that Vavic is still the ultimate coach. The program has a meticulous, efficient formula for how the coaching is delegated and it would be unwise to tinker with it too much. However, Vavic has always asked his assistant coaches questions and been open to their advice.Between editing film for the team to watch and administrative responsibilities such as recruiting, Pintaric has proved his ability as a coach. Pintaric said that though this title change will not have many tangible effects, it means that Vavic fully trusts him and thinks he is ready to lead the team.“Being a co-head coach is a very great honor for a prestigious university like USC,” Pintaric said. “My contribution to the team will be more standing time and involvement in the athletics of the game.”The former Trojan knows where his loyalties lie.“I will always consider myself a Trojan,” Pintaric added. “I have been here for 18 years as a water polo player, a graduate student, a graduate assistant, an assistant coach and now as co-head coach.”last_img read more

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