Water polo and swimming are returning to the College of San Mateo (CSM) next year after two seasons without any aquatics programs.
In charge of operating the new teams is Andrew Silva, who spent the past two years leading the water polo and swim teams at Serra High School five minutes down the road. Last month, he served as an assistant on the USA Water Polo Women’s Youth National Team that took gold in Serbia.
Prior to Serra, he coached Morro Bay High School’s water polo and swimming squads for four years and made three college coaching stops at Division I Marist College, UC Santa Barbara, and Citrus College.
“Andrew has a ton of experience, from high school to community college to DI,” Andreas Wolf, athletic director at CSM. “He’s on USA Water Polo’s coaching staff. He has a ton of experience that goes through all levels. We saw a really good teacher. … Someone who can be a fantastic mentor.”
Swimming will start back up in the spring of 2023 while the water polo program will have until next fall to compete again. It gives Silva some time — but not long — to assemble coaching staffs and recruit talent for four teams.
“I have to commend and express my appreciation to Dean Wolf and CSM President (Jennifer) Taylor-Mendoza … that they’re allowing myself and the staff some time to recruit. … The timing is perfect… to spend time with the (local water polo) community,” said Silva, a San Luis Obispo native who will also be a full-time kinesiology instructor. “Swim teams will compete this spring. We’re confident there are a number of quality student-athletes on campus who will want to join the program.”
“It’s a rare opportunity as a coach to start with a clean slate,” Silva said. “To be part of the staff to restart those teams … to take advantage of the fantastic athletic facilities … . It just checked a lot of boxes.”
Men’s water polo had been on the shelf for decades, but women’s water polo and the swimming program were supervised by Randy Wright from 2003-17. The Bulldogs took a one-year hiatus in 2018-19 following Wright’s departure, but they came back for the 2019-20 season. Then the pandemic hit.
“COVID made my decision (to put both programs on pause) much easier, to be honest,” Wolf said. “It was a good break to step back from the program. From my perspective, we needed a full-time coach to revamp the program.”
CSM now offers 15 sports as the school embraces an expansion effort on the athletic front. The Bulldogs added women’s volleyball in 2016 and men’s basketball in 2019 after a 36-year break from action. They compete in the Coast Conference along with 16 other community colleges in California.
“Community college athletics is such a rewarding opportunity,” Silva added. “As a coach, you get to open a door twice. You open the door to recruit [student-athletes] and then, within a couple years, you’re opening another door for them to matriculate to a four-year institution.”