AZUSA, Calif. -- Azusa Pacific University has hired Julie Snodgrass as head coach of the Cougars’ women’s water polo program, which enters its fourth year as a varsity program in the 2011-12 school year.
Snodgrass played four years (2005-08) at California Baptist University, earning AWPCA All-Academic honors throughout her career while tallying 133 career goals, 112 assists and 137 steals to finish among the Lancers’ career top 10 in all three categories. She helped lead the Lancers to program-records for season win totals in two of her four collegiate seasons, including a 26-win campaign in her senior year when California Baptist won the inaugural NAIA National Invitational tournament.
“Julie’s playing experience is valuable to us as we try to develop our program to a higher level,” Director of Athletics Bill Odell said. “I expect her contacts and involvement in water polo in the San Gabriel Valley and Riverside communities to be a huge asset as we continue the growth of our water polo program.”
The assignment is Snodgrass’ first head coaching position at the collegiate level, but the 2007 California Baptist University graduate brings several years of coaching at the high school level to go with her successful collegiate playing career.
“I am very excited for this opportunity,” Snodgrass said. “My personal coaching philosophy is to create an environment of unity with intensity, where we can have a team that supports each other through wins and losses. I love working on skills and helping develop athletes into better players.”
She served as an assistant girls water polo coach in 2006 at her high school alma mater, Rowland High in Rowland Heights. She took her first head coaching position at San Dimas High in 2009, guiding the Saints’ water polo program while also leading the girls swim team to a 10th-place team finish at the CIF championships.
Before college, Snodgrass was the 2004 CIF Player of the Year during her senior year at Rowland High in Rowland Heights, Calif., and she led Rowland to back-to-back CIF Div. VI championships in 2003 and 2004. Her father, John Hale, for whom a prestigious annual summer club tournament is named, was a San Gabriel Valley-area aquatics coaching legend who built successful swimming and water polo program at Rowland while serving as youth coach for the nationally-competitive Chino Hills Area Water Polo (CHAWP) club before he passed away in 2002.
“Water polo has been a family tradition for Julie,” Odell said. “I sensed her excitement to get back into it and work with this age group.”
Snodgrass inherits a program that has steadily grown from a 1-15 debut campaign in 2009 into a competitive squad that went 15-15 overall just two seasons later, posting a strong finish to a 2011 campaign that began with just two wins in the first 10 contests. The program’s three-year record is 25-47, showing steady improvement in each of the first three seasons by going from a 1-15 record in 2009 to 9-16 in 2010 before the Cougars registered 2011’s .500 campaign.