June 6, 2014
After leading the San José State University women's water polo program to its fourth 20-win season in school history, interim coach Johnny Bega accepted the position of head coach. Athletics director Gene Bleymaier made the announcement.
A member of the Spartans coaching staff since 2007, Bega assumed the role of interim head coach for the 2014 after head coach Lou Tully passed away on December 17, 2013, at age 70 due complications connected with cancer treatment.
With a month before the start of the season, Bega and the Spartans produced a 20-13 win-loss record, defeated three top-10 ranked teams and finished seventh nationally in the final coaches' poll. The 2014 San Jose State team set a school records for most goals in a season with 393 and largest goal differential at +109. The Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) coaches voted Bega as its Coach of the Year.
"We're delighted Johnny is staying at San Jose State as the head coach of our women's water polo program. He did a remarkable job keeping the team together and leading the Spartans to a successful season," says Bleymaier. "Johnny has a proven track record of recruiting outstanding student-athletes locally, throughout California and internationally. His connections in the water polo community should help us remain a top-10 program nationally."
The 2014 season was Bega's second stint in the lead chair for the Spartans. In 2009 when Coach Tully was recovering from his original cancer treatments, Bega ran many of the team's practices and was in charge at many of the road games. That year, San Jose State was 20-14 and finished sixth in the final national coaches poll.
"I am really excited. It's wonderful and it's awesome," says Bega about his first opportunity as a college head coach. "I want to thank Gene, Marie (Tuite, deputy director of athletics) and Liz (Jarnigan, senior women's administrator) for the opportunity to lead the team into the future.
"I want to continue what Lou (Tully) started in 1996 and build the family stronger and stronger by bringing in players domestically and internationally. We want to have a well-rounded program and face the top teams. We want to get to NCAA's and be a part of that. With hard work and dedication, that's what we can achieve."
The Spartans return six out of a possible seven starters from the 2014 team. Freshman Clara Espar Llaquet led the MPSF in scoring. Sophomore Rae Lekness and juniors Timi Molnar and Victoria Smith also were among the top-25 scorers in the conference. Sophomore Bianca Seyfert more than doubled her goal scoring from 2013 and finished with 31 scores. And, freshman goalkeeper Katelynn Thompson finished fourth in the MPSF in goals against average.