Former Water Polo Standout Luis Nicolao Named Head Coach
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Naval Academy Director of Athletics Chet Gladchuk announced today the hiring of former Navy water polo standout and veteran coach Luis Nicolao as the head coach of the Navy water polo program. Nicolao returns to Annapolis after an impressive 20-year career as the head coach of the Princeton University men's and women's water polo teams.
"First my gratitude to a wonderful and accomplished professional, our former coach Mladen Stanicic," said Gladchuk. "His leadership over the past four years has set a strong foundation from which we now launch the next era of varsity water polo at Navy.
"That era begins with Luis Nicolao. Throughout his career, Luis has always excelled as a midshipman, educator, and unparalleled intercollegiate coach at the highest level. We welcome him home to Annapolis and are certain he will in short order make a significant impact on the program. There is a buzz around the pool that is all about an exciting and highly successful future for Navy water polo."
"I cannot put into words how excited I am to be returning to the Naval Academy," Nicolao said. "This is truly an amazing opportunity and a dream come true. To be a small part of what is an outstanding environment is humbling. I look forward to being back on the Yard and working with our future leaders."
During his tenure with the Tigers, he posted a combined 844-312 (.730) record. Under his tutelage, the men's team held a 402-163 (.712) overall mark, while the women amassed a 442-149 (.748) ledger.
Nicolao, the 2004 Association of Collegiate Water Polo Coaches Men's National Coach of the Year, also has five Eastern Coach of the Year awards split between the men and the women (Men: 2004, `09, `11; Women: 2001, `07) and has garnered Southern Coach of the Year honors on seven occasions (Men: 2001, `03, `08; Women: 2001, `05, `06, `13).
He has directed the Princeton men to nine Southern titles (1999, `01, `03, `04, `08, `10, `11, `14, `15), four Eastern crowns (2004, `09, `11, `15) and made four NCAA Tournament appearances (2004, `09, `11, `15). The women have nine Southern titles to their credit (1999, `01, `04, `05, `06, `08, `12, `13, `14), four Eastern crowns (2000, `12, `13, `15) and three NCAA berths (2012, `13, `15).
Collectively, Nicolao coached 29 Princeton student-athletes to a combined 65 All-America accolades with 15 men's team members collecting 34 All-America honors and 14 women tallying 31 All-America distinctions. In addition, he oversaw eight men's water polo players who earned Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) Southern Player of the Year honors and a pair of CWPA Rookies of the Year. On the women's side, Nicolao coached six different student-athletes to a total of 12 CWPA Southern Player of the Year accolades with an additional two players claiming rookie of the year laurels.
As a student-athlete at Navy, Nicolao was a three-time All-American and All-East selection for the Midshipmen, graduating as the school's all-time leader in points (377) and goals scored (282). During the course of his career, Navy won two Eastern Championships (1988, `90) and reached the NCAA Tournament on three occasions (1988, `90, `91). He was named the CWPA Eastern MVP in 1990 and 1991, while earning CWPA First-Team All-East accolades for three straight seasons (1989, `90, `91). In addition, Nicolao served as the team captain as a senior during the 1991 season.
After earning the Naval Academy Athletic Association's Sword for Men as the top graduating male athlete in 1992, Nicolao assisted with the Navy water polo program as a temporary assigned duty (TAD). He was also a member of the U.S. National Team that won the gold medal at the World University Games before serving in the Navy for five years.
Nicolao returned to his alma mater's pool in 1996 as an officer representative prior to accepting the head coaching position at Princeton in 1998. He also served as the U.S. men's national "B" team assistant coach (1998, `99).
Nicolao earned a Master's Degree in adult education from the University of Phoenix. He and his wife, Kellie, have two daughters, Madison and Morgan.