The pressure was immense when Chris Parrish accepted the job of coaching the three-time CIF champion Dos Pueblos girls water polo team.
Parrish told the audience at Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table Press Luncheon that Santa Barbara coach Mark Walsh wished him good luck and said, “ ‘You are coaching the best team in the world.’
“I almost peed my pants,” Parrish cracked. “That’s a lot of pressure, but it was true. It’s a remarkable team.”
The Round Table paid tribute to Parrish and the DP girls for winning their fourth straight CIF title, third straight in Division 1, and winning 67 games in a row.
All the players were introduced. Kiley Neushul was unable to attend because she is training with the U.S. National Team for the next three weeks,” Parrish noted.
The coach put into perspective how dominant the program has been.
“Jamie Neushul, in two full seasons doesn’t know what it’s like to lose. She’s 62-0. The senior group is 118-6.They are outstanding.”
Parrish, like an Academy Awards winner, had many to thank. He started with the parents: ”We couldn’t have done it without their help. There’s lots of traveling in this sport — the mecca is Orange County and we don’t live in Orange County, we live in South San Jose,” he joked about the distance parents drive to matches.”
He went on to thank athletic director Dan Feldhaus and assistant coaches Connor Levoff and Paul Wilson whom Parrish noted was at first resistant to coaching girls but after the title, “There wasn’t a more happy person in the state.”
He capped his presentation with a moving tribute to his players.
“i want to say a personal thank you to the players. This is the most fun I had coaching in about six years. They carried me. They made me think coaching is super, super easy. It’s not. I think coaches in here know it’s not easy. This group, their experience and their winning, they know more about the game than I do and I’ve been around for a while.
“Thanks for inviting me.”
Gregg Wilson, UCSB’s swimming coach, congratulated the DP water polo players, many of whom he’s known through age-group swimming.
“I’ve also known Chris Parrish since since he was two,” watching him putz around the pool, said Wilson, who drew a chorus of ahhhs from the DP players. “You developed into an exceptional coach.
“And, I’ve known Paul Wilson longer than that,” joking about his son. “I was so eager for him to coach these ladies.”
Other highlights from the luncheon.
Wilson said his team was treated like an equal competing in its first Pac-10 Championships. Chris Peterson broke the school record in the 100 freestyle and 50 freestyle and was part of a record-setting 400 freestyle relay team. The 50 record he broke belonged to Olympic gold medalist Jason Lezak.
Westmont women’s basketball coach Kirsten Moore is waiting to hear from the NAiA about the Warriors getting an at-large berth to the national tournament.
“It’s March and I’m here, and we’re still in it. I just don’t know when,” she said.
Bishop Diego boys basketball coach Dean Prophet said he was grateful to keep playing. The Cardinals lost in the CIF Division 6AA Final against Valley Torah on Saturday and learned Sunday it was awarded a berth in the CIF State Tournament. They’ll play at Fresno Christian on Tuesday.
Longtime Santa Barbara baseball assistant George Rempe said the Dons received a No. 2 preseason ranking from the CIF.
“We’ve never been ranked that high in preseason in the history of the program,” Rempe said. “Although it doesn’t mean much, it’s nice to get recognition.”
Rempe added that longtime coach Fred Warrecker lost his 97-year-old father last weekend.
Others in attendance included high school boys volleyball coaches Dillan Bennett of Laguna Blanca, Roger Kuntz of San Marcos and Chad Arneson of Santa Barbara; prep swim coaches Mark Walsh of Santa Barbara, Jeff Ashton and Chuckie Roth of San Marcos, Leslie Wiggins Roth of Dos Pueblos; San Marcos softball coach Jeff Swann; UCSB volleyball assistant Lee Nelson; UCSB softball coach Brie Galicinao; UCSB basketball assistant Jona Metzger-Jones and SBCC sports information specialist Dave Loveton.