Water polo coach resigns

By Sam Adams

Water polo program head Larry Felix stepped down from his post to “pursue other opportunities” after a meeting with Head of School Jeanne Huybrechts on March 30. The Athletic Department is conducting a nationwide search for his replacement. Some within the water polo community have speculated that Felix’s predecessor, Richard Corso, is a likely candidate for the job.

During Felix’s four-year tenure as coach of the boys’ team, the Wolverines had a combined record of 81-33 and advanced to the Division I semifinals in 2006. The girls’ team, which Felix had coached since 2000, reached the Division IV finals in 2008.

Coach Felix could not be reached for comment.

“Water polo matters at Harvard-Westlake,” Head of Athletics Audrius Barzdukas said. “It’s a sport that has an unbelievable tradition at our school. There’s an absolute vibe when you go to a water polo game here.”

Felix’s departure came after the boys’ water polo team failed to win the Mission League title for the first time in 12 years. The boys fell in the first round of the CIF tournament to Dos Pueblos. Though the girls’ squad, also under Felix’s supervision, went undefeated in league, the team also did not win in the playoffs, losing in the opening game.

Barzdukas called Felix’s departure “bittersweet” and could be a mutually advantageous chance for both parties to go in separate directions.

“Coach Felix was a very good coach,” Barzdukas said. “His knowledge of the game is unsurpassed, but anytime somebody new comes in, there’s opportunity. It is on us to take advantage of that opportunity.”

That opportunity involves a comprehensive search for a new program director, a task that Barzdukas does not take lightly. The candidates for the job, he said, “range in experience from significant and excellent high school experience to significant and excellent international experience.”

In the interim, Peter Hudnut ‘99 is running the program. Enrolled in Stanford Business School for the fall, Hudnut is responsible for calling colleges on behalf of the team’s juniors, as well monitoring the squad’s lifting and conditioning program. Hudnut played for the silver medal-winning USA team in the Beijing Olympics.

The school has not yet culled the group of candidates into a short list.

“We have a very vocal and thoughtful and involved water polo community and so many people are lending their voices in terms of giving us suggestions and opinions in terms of who would be a good coach for our school,” Barzdukas said.

Once a short list has been created, three or four candidates will be brought on campus to meet with as many people in the administration as possible. After that, the selection committee will hopefully come to a consensus on the best candidate.

One who would be a match for the job, many in the school water polo community believe, is Felix’s predecessor and former mentor, Richard Corso.

Corso ran the Harvard-Westlake water polo program from 1986-2005 and is credited with bringing the school’s teams into the top echelon of high school water polo. During his tenure, teams combined to win 40 league championships, two CIF titles, seven CIF silver medals and five semi-final finishes. While at Harvard-Westlake, Corso was the United States Men’s Olympic Team head coach from 1992-96.

“I would be more than happy and willing to have a cup of coffee with the selection committee,” Corso said.

Corso is entering the final season of his contract with the University of California, Berkeley at the helm of its women’s water polo team, currently ranked No. 5 in the nation. NCAA rules prohibit recruitment of coaches under contract with another school, and no official contact has been made in regards to the open coaching job.

“They have my résumé,” Corso said.

– Additional reporting by Ben Goldstein