July 5, 2011
Each weekday in the month of July, MGoBlue.com will feature an interview with a U-M head coach. Second up is U-M head water polo coach Matt Anderson, who discusses player development, his young team next season and his first job sweeping sand off beach condos.
What makes the summer in water polo so unique?
We are a spring sport, so we encourage the young ladies to go play elsewhere -- to go get different coaching, play with different players -- and 90 percent of our ladies go to California to play. They are in the sun, it's summer time, and they get to see another part of the country if they aren't from there. Other sports begin in the fall. They have to get organized or get together, whereas all I ask is they take the first month off to get organized, and in the middle part of the summer, join a club and play. That's probably one of the big differences in college. We encourage our players to go to different places and learn different ways of doing things.
Why are the summer months so important to the development of your team?
I believe, as in any sport, you are able to get better when you take risks. During the summer, there's nothing really riding on it. It's either a summer game or practice. You can attempt to play a different position or try a different move that they aren't going to do when they're playing a Big Ten team or a West Coast power. A player's development is the utmost gain during the summer months when they're just relaxed and don't have to worry about how successful it is.
What do you see as the team's biggest strength heading into next season?
Well, we're going to be young. They have a lot to learn, and will need to want to learn. Some players will have the opportunity to play that maybe haven't had the opportunity in the past, so they're going to want to impress. Whenever you have a young team, it's a more exciting vibe. It should make our practices much more competitive.
What was your first summer job?
When I was a kid, I was a newspaper delivery boy. In San Diego, I was a groundskeeper for this little condo complex at the beach. Two hours a day, I was responsible for getting sand off people's porches and out of the pool area. I basically just swept sand for these people. Even though they chose to live on the beach, they did not want sand on their walkway. Go figure.
Do you or did you have any special travel plans this summer?
I do. I'll be gone most of the month of August. I'm the head coach of the USA National 'B' team, and we're going to the World University Games in China. From August 5-25, I'll be over there trying to win a gold medal for the USA.
Tell us one unique thing you've done since the season ended?
The only unique thing I've been doing since my season's been over is changing multiple diapers a day. I've got one toddler and one baby. That's unique to everyone that doesn't have kids, but if you've been there and done that, diaper changing is diaper changing.
Past MGoBlue.com Summer Sessions
Head Men's Swimming & Diving Coach Mike Bottom (July 1)