CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – USA Water Polo announced its 2017 Zone Award Winners in late January. Honorees are recognized for their contributions to the sport in a variety of disciplines: coaching, officiating, volunteering and more. The Friends of Harvard Water Polo Head Coach Ted Minnis was bestowed the Monte Nitzkowski Distinguished Coaching Award for the Northeast Zone. From these zone awards, USA Water Polo will select its national award winners later this year.
Minnis won the Monte Nitzkowski Distinguished Coaching Award in 2016 after he became the winningest coach in Harvard water polo history (both men's and women's), led the men's team to the NCAA Final Four, and guided the women's squad to its best finish in 16 seasons.
This past season, Minnis coached the men's team to a 24-8 overall record, a second-straight Northeast Water Polo Conference title, and a second-straight NCAA Tournament appearance. The men's team concluded its season with a trip to the NCAA Quarterfinals in Los Angeles. Minnis developed freshman Dennis Blyashov to All-America third team and NEWPC Rookie of the Year recognition, along with sophomore Austin Sechrest who was named an All-America honorable mention. The women's team is 3-2 this season and currently ranked No. 19 in the country.
The award is named for American swimmer and water polo coach Monte Nitzkowsk. The Pasadena, California native represented the U.S. at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, Finland, competing in the 200-meter butterfly. After concluding his collegiate swimming and water polo careers at UCLA, Nitzkowski became one of the world's best water polo coaches. From 1954 to 1989, the coach led Long Beach City College to 32 conference water polo championships and 12 league swim titles. Nitzkowski was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1991. He passed away in 2016.