Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Grossmont College water polo coach seeks team championship

Coach Brian Harvey and the water polo team
Grossmont College will seek its 20th men’s water polo championship and its coach Brian Harvey will be shooting for Career Wins No. 605 and 606 at Miramar College on Friday and Saturday during the championship rounds of the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference

On Friday, Nov. 8, Grossmont will draw either Southwestern College or Miramar College as an opponent, and should the powerhouse Grossmont team win, as expected, it will play in the championship game on Saturday.  Harvey predicts his team’s opponent for that contest will be San Diego Mesa College, which last Wednesday fell 12-8 to the Griffins and gave Harvey his 600th career win.  Since then his team won four more games during a tournament held at Saddleback College.

Over his 25 years as a water polo coach for Grossmont College,  Harvey has compiled a record of 604 wins and 226 losses for a .727 winning percentage.  His team won its first conference championship in 1990 against Orange Coast College in a 12-0 season, and then dominated the Orange Coast Conference through 1998 and the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference thereafter.

For Harvey, it is easier to remember the seasons when Grossmont College didn’t win the championship as opposed to the other way around.  In 1999, he said, the team shared the championship, and was runner up in 2010.  In all the other years, his team won the championships – the reason why  it is Number One Seed in the finals starting this Friday.

Some of the most memorable moments of his career came in 2007, “when we won the championship with seven-tenths of a second to go,” and in 2010 “when we lost the championship with three-tenths of a second to go.”

Over his career, said Harvey, he has produced “45 All-Americans so far.”

What makes Harvey’s achievement all the more remarkable is that Grossmont College does not have a regulation size pool, so much of the team’s training, and all of its so-called “home games” must be played in other swimming pools.  

“I think I have rented every swimming pool in the county at one time or another,” Harvey said.

Currently the team trains at night at Granite Hills High School 50-meter swimming pool.  Although there is a swimming pool on the Grossmont College campus, it is “too short, too narrow and too shallow” for water polo, and therefore is only used for leg conditioning and passing and shooting drills.  He compared using that pool to playing half-court basketball.

So what is Harvey’s secret?  Why have his teams dominated the league year after year?

As a coach, he treats his players with respect.“I always try to be positive with my players rather than yelling or being negative,” he said.  “I also leave a lot of the decision-making with my players.”  Furthermore, he said “there is a sense of humor that goes into this. We have fun, it has to be fun.”
Furthermore, "a lot of our practices are goal-oriented meaning that once you achieve the goals stated for a particular skill or drill, the team moves on to the next.  The better the performance, the quicker they move to the next skill."

Harvey also credited Jim Spillers, Grossmont College’s associate dean for athletics, with providing unfailing support for the team.  “He is a pleasure to work with,” Harvey said.

Harvey’s own water polo career started at Cerritos College, and then continued at Cal State Fullerton and Cal State Long Beach.  He played as a two-meter guard and a sprinter.