Dec. 17, 2013
Lou Tully, San Jose State University's first and only women's water polo head coach, died on December 17 at age 70 in San Jose due to complications from cancer treatment.
Mr. Tully was named the Spartans' head coach in 1996 and had a 250-245 win-loss coaching record covering 16 seasons. His teams were ranked in the top-10 nationally 12 times. The 2001 and 2011 Spartans finished fifth in the country.
Since 1999, Spartan water polo players earned 24 All-America awards and 32 Association of Collegiate Water Polo Coaches (ACWPC) All-American Academic awards since 2009.
"We are shocked and deeply saddened by the Lou's sudden passing. Lou was an outstanding coach who always wanted the best for his student-athletes and the program. He never backed down from a challenge and his student-athletes loved him for that and many more qualities that made San Jose State one of the top women's water polo programs nationally," said San Jose State director of athletics Gene Bleymaier.
"We share our grief with his wife, Susie, and the entire Tully family. This truly is a sad day for us all."
Well-known locally and regionally in water polo circles, Mr. Tully was diagnosed with cancer in 2008 and was given a clean bill of health the following summer. He took the San Jose State coaching position after a lengthy career coaching high school, community college and club teams. His first coaching position was at Menlo Junior College in 1966 where he coached water polo and swimming. He also founded the San Jose Splash in the 1990's, a club team for local junior women's players.
The 1967 San Jose State graduate also earned his master's degree from his alma mater in 1973. He played for the Spartan men's water polo teams during the 1962 through 1965 seasons.
"Lou was a mentor to all his players and the coaches he competed with and against. He was a father figure to all he touched," said Johnny Bega, San Jose State University women's water polo associate head coach, who first met Tully in 1994 when Bega was a high school player and Mr. Tully officiated his boys' water polo match.
A long-time water polo official - he has officiated at every level, including the Junior Olympic Nationals, U.S. Senior Men's and Women's National Championships, community college state championships and NCAA Division I men's and women's matches.
An Army veteran, Mr. Tully also was a member of the San Francisco Bay Area band, Big Bop and the Choppers, a band that specialized in 1950's Rock & Roll tribute music. The band's best-known member is Super Bowl winning coach Mike Holmgren.
Tully is survived by his wife, Susan Tully; daughter, Megan; a son, Ian, and daughter-in-law, Caroline, and their son, Chase.