Dana Hills girls water polo coach Nick Baba, who guided the Dolphins to the Sea View League title and an appearance in the CIF-SS Division 4 quarterfinals this past season, has resigned, he confirmed Monday.
Baba, a well-established and respected figure in Orange County water polo, said the school administration asked him to resign. The first-year Dana Hills coach said the administration said it wanted to go in a different direction.
“We thank Coach Baba for his tenure as the Dana Hills High School girls water polo coach and wish him the best in his future endeavors,” co-athletic director Matt Reid said in an e-mail Tuesday.
Baba, who also heads the Kahuna Water Polo Club in Irvine, has circulated a letter about his resignation. Here is his complete letter:
Great Season and Farewell!
Many thanks to all of the athletes and parents who contributed to make this past season a success!
When I took over the program last Spring I had every intention stabilizing the program that seemingly had a different coach each year. I discovered and corrected certain behaviors that could have opened up the school and district to lawsuits in addition to CIF Blue Book violations that I was obligated to report so as to not have the program come into disrepute.
Accomplishments for this year included offering a program and an environment where multiple athletes were voted most improved on each level, while holding athletes accountable to their performances and actions throughout the season. We successfully added capital improvements to the aging Dana Hills pool facility including – team benches, new clock on the wall, new PA system and innovative training equipment while following a philosophy that in order to be successful an athlete must strive to compete in 100 games in the off season.
Branding a fresh team water polo logo and a web site at www.danapolo.org which was updated thru Twitter and weekly web updates, plus weekly emails to the parents and athletes insured that the lines of communication were open and that people were kept informed. We also created and hosted a much needed JV tournament, the inaugural Dolphin Invitational to be held annually over the winter break.
Other accomplishments were bringing back Midnight Madness, a midnight to 2AM training session with breakfast afterwards to start the official high school season, an Alumni game and a senior presentations day honoring the seniors with speeches and gifts of flowers and customized blankets, an event that was second to none in Dana’s history or in the water polo community.
The promises that were made to the varsity were kept in that everyone on the team started at least two games regardless of third party rankings and some games featured either all seniors all of the game or all non-starters all or most of the game in order to make the varsity experience the best that it could be, which were attempts to make everyone happy. But as you know trying to please everyone has the potential to please no one especially since playing time is highly addictive to those not focused on the success of a team or the outcome of a game.
It is unfortunate that even in bringing nearly 40 years of experience in the sport of water polo to Dana, much of what I have to offer as a coach was overshadowed by accusations of favoritism toward some players. This has been brought to my attention as a root issue of complaints by a vocal minority regardless of many sleepless nights wondering if it were possible to even out more playing time without losing the game.
Hence it is with sadness to advise you that I have been asked to resign from the Head Girl’s Water Polo Coaching position even though I was just turning the corner in remedying a culture of class division, improper conduct of some athletes and coaches, and of entitlement and seasonal commitment over hard work and talent regardless of grade level.
I have truly enjoyed coaching all of the girls in the program even as an upside-down economic situation which took time away from family and many other water polo involvements including Director of Irvine Youth Water Polo and unparalleled professional event operations.
The team banquet last night was a memorable experience that I will truly cherish forever –the girls were absolutely beautiful! – and I wish to thank all of the parents who went the extra mile to support the program with their time and resources, without which our season would have been much less enjoyable and less successful. Thank you for having the wisdom and insight to know that it takes a whole village to raise a kid and more than coaches to operate a successful program.
I wish you all good luck with your endeavors, both in and out of water polo. If you are in, our paths will surely cross!
Dana Hills finished last season with an 18-13 overall record (8-0 in league), earned the No. 3 seed for the Division 4 playoffs and placed senior Emily Carlson on the All-CIF team.
The Dolphins are expected to compete in the South Coast League next season. The South Coast League has been recommended to remain in Division 2, so the Dolphins appear headed for a two-division jump.
South Coast League front-runner El Toro also is seeking a permanent coach.