Richard Corso, one of the most highly respected and successful water polo coaches in the world, is now in his 11th year as a member of the Golden Bear family.
Corso reached two significant milestones during the 2015 season. The first came on Feb. 21 when he registered his 200th career victory with a win over UC Irvine. The second came in April when he was voted in to the USA Water Polo Hall of Fame.
Corso, who enters the 2016 season with a 206-88 record at Cal, has served as head coach for both the United States Men's Olympic Team and the Canadian Men's National Team. He was selected in August 2005 to be the mentor for the University of California women's water polo program. Corso not only offers a superior knowledge of the sport of water polo, he possesses a competitive attitude that is sure to get the most out of his student-athletes.
In 2015, Corso guided the Bears to their fourth NCAA Championships appearance in the past six years. They reached the semifinals before ultimately finishing fourth after an overtime loss to USC in the Third Place Game. Corso also led Cal to a victory over No. 1 Stanford in the semifinals of the MPSF Tournament, giving the Bears their first win over the Cardinal since 2000 - a string of 40 consecutive matches.
Corso also led the Bears to the NCAA semifinals in 2014 before falling to eventual NCAA champion Stanford. The Bears went 20-10 and ascended to as high as No. 3 in the national rankings.
In 2010, Corso led the Bears to their first-ever appearance in the NCAA tournament, the first of back-to-back trips to the tourney. Cal registered a third-place national finish in 2010 then advanced to the NCAA title match in 2011. The Bears finished 2011 with a record of 26-5 and won the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament title. Corso was named the MPSF Coach of the Year.
During his tenure at Cal, Corso has helped mentor a member of the 2008 and 2012 USA Olympic Women's Water Polo Team (Elsie Windes) and has coached 29 All-Americans and 30 MPSF all-league selections.
One of water polo's most innovative thinkers in terms of training and match tactics, Corso's creed is defensive, attacking water polo. He is a student of the game and has worked for the best American and European coaches. Corso learned from great coaches of the era such as Monte Nitzkowski, Ratko Rudic, Pete Cutino, Bob Horn and Art Lambert. He served as the United States Men's Olympic Team head coach from 1992-96, leading the United States to a seventh-place finish at the 1996 games in Atlanta and a gold medal at the 1995 Pan American Games. The 1996 Olympic team included current Cal men's coach Kirk Everist, and other former Bear standouts Gavin Arroyo, Troy Barnhart, Chris Humbert and Chris Oeding.
Prior to assuming his role with Team USA, Corso served as head coach of the Canadian National Team, which finished fourth at the 1991 Pan American Games. He also gained international experience as the head coach of the USA National Junior Team (1984 to 1988), and as goalkeeper coach for the 1984 silver medal-winning and 2004 Olympic teams.
Just before taking the Cal position, Corso had served as head of the Harvard-Westlake School Aquatic Program in Los Angeles from 1986-2005. In that role, he was responsible for virtually all aspects of the nation's premier high school squad. Since 1986, Harvard-Westlake water polo teams had combined to win 40 league championships, two CIF titles and seven CIF silver medals and five semifinal finishes. Additionally, 82 Harvard-Westlake student-athletes were named to All-America squads. Corso was named CIF Coach of the Year four times and California Coach of the Year in 1992. He also served as Harvard-Westlake's Associate Director of Admissions.
Corso began his head coaching career at Yale, where he led a club-varsity squad, and had previous coaching stops at UCLA, where he was assistant men's swimming and water polo coach. During his 10 years at UCLA, Corso helped the men's swim team to an NCAA runner-up finish in 1981 and an NCAA title in 1982, and an NCAA runner-up finish in men's water polo in 1979.
Taking over as the United States National Team coach following the 1992 Olympics, Corso inherited a squad that had lost eight of 13 members. He brought a new level of collaboration with the United States Olympic Committee to the sport, and emphasized the importance of sport science, sports psychology and computer-video tape analysis that was demonstrated to all of the USA water polo coaches. Corso led his 1996 Olympic team to within one goal of the medal round in Atlanta, losing to gold-medalist Spain. His energy, preparation, commitment and professionalism will have a lasting influence on American water polo for years to come.
A native of New York City, Corso swam and played water polo at Southern Connecticut University, earning a bachelor's degree in physical education in 1977. He then completed his master's in kinesiology at Cal State Northridge in 1982, and earned a second master's degree in coaching science from Moscow State University in 1999.
Corso and his wife, Catherine, a first-grade teacher, have two children - daughters Meredith, an instructor at Los Angeles City College, and Meghan, a former standout on the Cal women's water polo team from 2007-10.