Sept. 20, 2004
BERKELEY, CA - Pete Cutino, a Cal coaching legend and one of the greatest figures in United States water polo history, died of apparent heart failure at his Monterey home yesterday afternoon. He was 71.
Cutino, a four-time NCAA and Pac-10 Coach of the Year, directed Golden Bear teams to eight national championships and a 519-172-10 career record during his 26-year tenure as head coach in Berkeley. His last team in 1988 won a school-record 33 games en route to a second straight NCAA title.
"We are shocked and saddened by the news of Pete's passing," said Steve Gladstone, long-time California crew coach who recently stepped down as the school's athletic director. "Pete Cutino epitomized what a champion truly is. More than all the trophies and awards he's won, his greatest contribution was the profound impact he has had on the lives of countless Cal student-athletes during nearly three decades of service. Our university--and the national water polo community--has lost a true legend. Our hearts go out to (wife) Louise and his family."
While at the helm at Cal, Cutino coached 68 All-Americans, six Pac-10 and NCAA Players of the Year, and five Olympians, including current Golden Bear head water polo coach Kirk Everist.
"For me, it's as close to losing your father as you can get," said Everist, who learned the news of Cutino's death while riding the Cal team bus from the SoCal Tournament to Los Angeles International Airport yesterday. "He's somebody who obviously made a big impression on my life. I ended up, hopefully, following in his footsteps. It's tough."
In addition to his coaching duties at California from 1963-88, Cutino served as head coach of the U.S. National Team (1972-76), the U.S.A. Olympic Team (1976), and the U.S. team at the World University Games in Yugoslavia (1987).
Retiring as head coach in 1989 after building California into the most successful college program in the nation, Cutino led the Bears to NCAA crowns in 1973, 1974, 1975, 1977, 1983, 1984, 1987 and 1988. Four other times in his career, he guided Cal to runner-up finishes in the NCAA Tournament.
He received the Master Coach Award--the highest honor given to an aquatics coach--and in 1999, the Peter J. Cutino Award was established in conjunction with the San Francisco Olympic Club, in his honor, and is presented annually to the top male and female collegiate water players in the nation.
While known primarily as one of the nation's finest coaches, Cutino also was a longtime faculty member with Cal's department of physical education.
"This is a great loss for Cal," said Bob Milano, the Bears' head baseball coach from 1978-99. "He is the one who helped me with my career, as well as helping many, many others. There are so many things I wish I could say, but this is a very emotional time for me. He was more than a friend, he was like an advisor and confidant."
Famous for his fiery coaching demeanor, Cutino was a sight to behold at Cal water polo matches.
"Pete was a pacer, a shouter and a congratulator," Milano fondly recalled. "He was also a constant nagger of the officials--which I loved--and he just had quite a presence."
Cutino graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 1957 and earned a master's degree in education from his alma mater in 1959. While at Cal Poly, he was a three-time water polo all-conference selection. Prior to assuming the coaching reins of both the Cal men's water polo and swimming programs in 1963--he served as Cal's swimming coach from 1963-74--Cutino was head water polo and swimming coach at Oxnard High School. His swim teams at Oxnard compiled a 64-8 record and claimed five county championships in the early `60's, while his water polo team there went 80-12 during that same period.
He is survived by his wife, Louise, and their three grown children, Paul, Peter Jr. and Anna.
Here are the dates and times for the memorial services for Pete Cutino:
Thursday - Sept. 23, 12:00-5:00 p.m. visitation:
Thursday - Sept. 23, 7:00 p.m. Rosary:
San Carlos Church
Friday - Sept. 24, 1:00 p.m. Memorial Service
Monterey Peninsula College Amphitheater - located between the gym & theatre
Reception following service
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to: