Dr. Marcelo Leonardi Named Michigan Water Polo Head Coach
Dr. Marcelo Leonardi

May 30, 2014

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- University of Michigan Donald R. Shepherd Director of Athletics Dave Brandon announced Friday (May 30) the hiring of Dr. Marcelo Leonardi as head coach for the women's water polo team. Dr. Leonardi becomes the third mentor in the 14-year history of the water polo program.

"It is an honor and a privilege to join the Michigan family," said Dr. Leonardi. "The academic and athletic success found at the University of Michigan is one of a kind. The culture that is embedded throughout all of their programs is genuine and unique. I want to thank Dave Brandon and Lisa Savoury for their efforts throughout this process. I look forward to being part of a rich tradition of excellence and a culture that fosters success."

"We are excited to have Marcelo join the coaching ranks at Michigan," said Brandon. "His experience as a player and coach at all levels of the sport will be extremely valuable for our program and the young women under his tutelage. Marcelo has built a very consistent program that achieves in the pool and the classroom, an expectation that matches our goals at Michigan. We look for great things from our women's water polo program in the future."

Dr. Leonardi takes over the Michigan women's water polo program after spending the past five seasons as the women's water polo coach at California State University in Northridge. This past season, he guided the Matadors to a second-place finish in the regular-season Big West Conference standings and a runner-up showing at the conference championship. CSUN compiled a 23-9 overall record on the year and ranked as high as No. 9 in the CWPA national polls.

In five years as the head coach at Cal State Northridge, Dr. Leonardi compiled a 115-64 overall record with four 20-win campaigns and top-20 final national rankings each year. Dr. Leonardi had student-athletes named All-Big West 23 times, accumulating 10 first-team citations, five second-team honors and eight honorable mentions. He had six student-athletes earn All-America honors eight times. In the classroom, his student-athletes had a cumulative grade-point average above 3.0 all five years.

Dr. Leonardi was the interim head coach at CSUN for the 2009-10 season, compiling a school record 28 wins (28-8), the Big West regular-season title and a No. 9 national ranking. Prior to moving into the head coaching role, Dr. Leonardi spent four years as an assistant coach for the Matadors (2006-09).

In addition to his collegiate coaching success, Dr. Leonardi has national and international coaching experience with USA Water Polo (2009 to current). He is currently the women's national youth team coach, which will be competing this summer at the Youth World Championships in Madrid, Spain. He also serves as the national technical director for the women's Olympic Development Program (ODP) associated with the organization since 2013. In his role with USA Water Polo, Leonardi oversees the implementation of training for all female athletes in the Olympic Development Program nationwide as well as competition at the national training and selection camps.

Before joining the staff at Cal State Northridge, Dr. Leonardi was head coach for the El Rancho High School water polo and swim programs for six years. During his tenure, the Dons twice claimed the Del Rio League water polo titles (2003 and 2004) and played in the CIF Division III championship game in 2004. Dr. Leonardi was named the CIF Division III Coach of the Year in 2004 and also led the swimming team to the league title that same season.

Dr. Leonardi earned a bachelor of arts in biology and Spanish from Whittier College (Calf.) in 1998. He added a master's degree in education from Whittier in 2001 and a single-subject teaching credential in biology and life sciences from the institution in 2003. As a collegiate player, Dr. Leonardi was a three-year starter and letterman in water polo at Whittier (1994-96).

Dr. Leonardi added a doctorate degree in educational leadership from Azusa Pacific University in 2011.

Dr. Leonardi and his wife, Kendra, will make the transition to Ann Arbor in June.

Media Contact: David Ablauf (dablauf@umich.edu)