Kingsmen and Regals water polo teams find temporary coaching staff


Photo by Marcel Hurtubise - Reporter

The temporary coaching staff was in attendance at the Regals’ game against Pomona-Pitzer on Wednesday, March 29.

Marcel Hurtubise, Reporter

California Lutheran University recently hired Head Coach Michael Ashe and Assistant Coaches Backus Nahas and Joyce Abarta as its new temporary coaching staff for the current Regals water polo season, following the suspension of the water polo coaching staff earlier this semester. Additionally, according to, Ashe, Nahas and Abarta are listed as the coaching staff for the Kingsmen water polo program, whose next season is in the fall.

Ashe said that he plans to help with the process of finding a permanent coach if the school allows him to, but will not stay past this season. As for Nahas and Abarta, they said that they are taking it one step at a time.

“We’re here now and we’re looking forward to it and if they want us back … I hope that they ask us,” Nahas said.

Nahas said that all three of them were reached out to by the university around the middle of February and were informed about the void in the coaching staff.

“If someone calls and says they need me, I wanna be there,” Abarta said. “These girls are worth it and they are something special.”

Abarta said that she and Nahas also wanted the Regals to have as good and normal a season as possible.

“Aspirations would be for these girls to end the season feeling as if nothing was amiss…they still had their season and it was a success, and they had the time of their lives,” Abarta said.

Abarta said that all three coaches shared a vision for the team to find their love of the sport and were very good at pushing for good team chemistry. All three coaches said that the bonding between them and the women’s team went well.

“I think that it was actually not hard at all because we stepped in, the girls welcomed us with open arms and with a need that was clear: they needed their coaches,” Abarta said.

Nahas said that among the coaches, the bonding was very “organic.” Ashe said that once they got together, it was like they knew each other for years.

“It’s an opportunity for them and it’s an opportunity for us and from the very beginning we never looked back, we only looked forward and we’re still looking forward,” Nahas said.

Ashe said that the key has been building trust between the coaches and the Regals and letting them know how much the team means to him.

“The girls, you know, they’re struggling, they hurt and they had a lot to get over and process,” Ashe said. “I just told them ‘we gotta spend some time getting to know each other, you gotta learn to trust me.’ I’m a firm believer that it doesn’t matter how much I know unless they know how much I care.”

Ashe said he played water polo when he was in college and began to coach when he graduated. He has coached New Zealand’s and China’s national water polo teams. In California, Ashe coached schools like El Dorado High School, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps College and Long Beach State. 

“I’ve been very fortunate to make the rounds doing different things,” Ashe said. “Certainly not afraid of taking on the impossible or what seems to be the impossible.”

Ashe said he was in retirement before getting the email about the team’s situation.

“I retired a year ago and was just kicking back in Florida,” Ashe said. “My wife is here still, she’s still finishing up her last year, she’ll retire in June. So I knew I was coming out here…I just wasn’t planning on being out here ’til April.”

Ashe said that he was contacted by the university on Feb. 10 and took the 37-hour drive over from Florida the next morning.

“I packed up my truck, secured the house, got my neighbor to watch it and drove cross-country from Florida to here,” Ashe said.

The Regals have four Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference games remaining and currently sit in third place in the conference standings. This puts them in a position to qualify for the SCIAC Tournament, where they will be able to compete for a place in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III Championship. The Regals made the NCAA Championship three times in the program’s history.  

The Regals water polo team plays their next game at home on Saturday, April 8 against Occidental College for senior day.