Mark Anderson has been coaching swimming and water polo for more than 30 years in Marin County. To say he is a staple within the community would be an understatement. With seven league championships as head coach under his belt, he was inducted into the Marin County Athletic League Hall of Fame for Coaching in 2014. Coach Mark has developed countless Division One collegiate athletes, including his son, a water polo star at UC Davis. And with the launch of men’s and women’s water polo teams at San Domenico this year in our brand new competition-sized pool, Coach Mark looks to do the same with our Panther athletes.
One would imagine that developing D1 swimmers and water polo players requires a complex methodology. However, Coach Mark's approach is simple, tried, and true, and has almost nothing to do with the game itself. “I only ask three things from my athletes. Be nice to each other, make eye contact when speaking to me, and always try your best. That is my secret sauce,” he says, chuckling. “More than 50 percent of what I teach are life skills, because reinforcing good behaviors taught at home enables me to teach kids about the sport I love and care deeply about.”
Coach Mark’s player management skills are exemplary. At any given moment, he is actively coaching more than 400 kids throughout the year. His ability to recall their names and have an in-depth, meaningful conversation about life with a family goes a long way in connecting with them. “I make it a point to know each kid and their family, as my relationship with them lasts throughout their childhood. I care deeply about them, and they sense that.” It also helps that being in Coach Mark's presence puts you at ease with his relaxed nature.
When brought to his attention, Coach Mark is quick to credit his family and staff for his ability to have an impact on the players he trains. Specifically, his wife Julie, head coach of SD's swim team, Mark’s father, who helped him develop a love for all things swimming, and Brian Hennessy, who insisted he become a coach more than 30 years ago. “Their love, support, and guidance have brought me to this moment, in what feels like heaven to me,” says Coach Mark. “I'm so thankful for the opportunity to work in a beautiful environment in one of the country’s most beautiful pools, with incredible people. I feel invigorated by the challenge of building a water polo program from scratch. We aim to be the class of the BCL and to continue developing collegiate athletes.”