Adam Wright made some changes to both of his coaching staffs.
As the coach of both UCLA men’s and women’s water polo, Wright announced the addition of an assistant coach to each program July 31 and August 1, respectively.
Former Bruin standout Jack Grover will replace Ryder Roberts – who voluntarily left to pursue a different career – to help coach the men’s program.
On the women’s side, Wright hired former Cal assistant coach Christopher Lee to replace Dustin Litvak, who was named Princeton’s new head coach in June.
Men’s water polo
Wright has known Grover for about 10 years – coaching Grover during high school club ball all the way throughout his collegiate career.
“I had the opportunity to coach him at a young age,” Wright said. “And there was no doubt he was always a student of the game.”
Grover was part of arguably UCLA’s most decorated men’s water polo class – winning three NCAA titles in his four years.
The attacker was never a top scorer or a four-year starter. Wright said Grover was often the smallest player on the team, but it was his character that stood out.
“(Grover) was part of three national championships not because he was the fastest or biggest or strongest,” Wright said. “But it was what he was willing to do every day, how to physically and mentally train. … There was no way we could leave him off the roster (when he played for us).”
While Grover brings in some experience with a few months’ coaching the Bruins Stars and Stripes Water Polo Club, Wright said it was unfortunate to lose somebody like Roberts.
“Sometimes people want to look outside of coaching and I had to respect (Roberts’) decision,” Wright said. “But even in just one year, he’s been really impactful as a coach.”
Roberts helped Wright lead the Bruins to UCLA’s 114th national championship last fall, but Wright said he is confident that Grover will make a positive impact on the program as well.
“It was a bummer to lose (Roberts),” Wright said. “But we were very fortunate to be in a position to get somebody like Jack Grover.”
Women’s water polo
For the players, Christopher Lee will be a familiar face.
Lee was a long-time mentor for the Olympic Development Program and served as the assistant coach for the USA Women’s Cadet National Team from 2011-2015 – a team many of UCLA’s current players were part of at the time.
“His (international experience) has all been on the women’s side,” Wright said. “Which is going to be very helpful for me from both a recruiting standpoint and where the game is going internationally.”
Lee began his coaching career as an undergraduate student at Pennsylvania in 2000 – earning numerous coaching awards – before spending time coaching at Occidental College and Pomona-Pitzer.
“Another thing that made me want to have (Lee) join our staff is his commitment to the team and his work ethic,” Wright said. “So for us, we’re absolutely fortunate to have him join us.”