HEAD COACH DR. MARCELO LEONARDI
Dr. Marcelo Leonardi enters his fifth season as head coach for the Michigan women's water polo team. Leonardi was introduced as the new coach on May 30, 2014, becoming the third coach in U-M history.
In five seasons, Leonardi has recorded a 132-48 (.733) overall record at Michigan. He has guided the Wolverines to four NCAA appearances, four CWPA Championships and three first place conference finishes during the regular season.
Leonardi increased the team's win total by 11 from year one to year two and has only lost two conference games in four seasons (30-2). He coached Ali Thomason into becoming the first to earn first team All-America honors in program history. Six have earned All-America recognition in his first three years. He has coached 14 All-CWPA selections, including two CWPA Player of the Year recipients and one CWPA Rookie of the Year.
In just his second year at Michigan, Leonardi took the Wolverines to their highest point in the 16 years of the program. U-M achieved its highest ranking of all-time, No. 4, after placing 4th at the NCAA Championship. The Wolverines won the CWPA Championship for the sixth time and first since 2010, giving Leonardi his first college championship. He was named the Doc Hunkler Coach of the Tournament. The team finished with a 30-8 overall record.
The 2017 team followed one successful year with another one. Leonardi once again led the Wolverines to a CWPA Championship and to the NCAA Championship. His team finished the year with a 28-9 overall record and perfect 8-0 conference mark. Senior Allison Skaggs was named the CWPA Player of the Year and CWPA Championship MVP. Leonardi was the Doc Hunkler Coach of the Tournament for the second straight year and five individuals made the All-CWPA teams.
In 2018, Leonardi led his team to a three-peat at the conference championships, defeating top-seeded Princeton, 11-8, for the CWPA title. His team has a 32-9 overall record, the highest win total in the nation and made the NCAA Tournament for the third straight year. Junior Julia Sellers was named the CWPA Championship MVP and was joined by sophomore Maddy Steere on the All-CWPA first team.
Named the 2014 recipient of USA Water Polo's Sandy Nitta Distinguished Women's Coaching Award (Elite), Leonardi has been heavily involved with the national governing body since 2009. He served two cycles as the USA women's national youth team coach, leading Team USA to gold at the FINA Youth World Championship in Madrid, Spain in 2014 and to a fifth place finish in New Zealand in 2016. His gold medal in 2014 was the first Youth World Championship in USA Water Polo history.
Leonardi serves as the national technical director for the women's Olympic Development Program (ODP) associated with the organization since 2013. In his role with USA Water Polo, Leonardi oversees the implementation of training for all female athletes in the Olympic Development Program nationwide as well as competition at the national training and selection camps.
Leonardi took over the Michigan women's water polo program after spending the previous five seasons as the women's water polo coach at California State University in Northridge. In 2014, he guided the Matadors to a second-place finish in the regular-season Big West Conference standings and a runner-up showing at the conference championship. CSUN compiled a 23-9 overall record on the year and ranked as high as No. 9 in the CWPA national polls.
In five years as the head coach at Cal State Northridge, Leonardi compiled a 115-64 overall record with four 20-win campaigns and top 20 final national rankings each year. Leonardi had student-athletes named All-Big West 23 times, accumulating 10 first-team citations, five second-team honors and eight honorable mention accolades. He had six student-athletes earn All-America honors eight times. In the classroom, his student-athletes had a cumulative grade point average above a 3.0 all five years.
Leonardi was the interim head coach at CSUN for the 2009-10 season, compiling a school record 28 wins (28-8), the Big West regular season title and a No. 9 national ranking. Prior to moving into the head coaching role, Leonardi spent four years as an assistant coach for the Matadors (2006-09).
Before joining the staff at Cal State Northridge, Leonardi was head coach for the El Rancho High School water polo and swim programs for six years. During his tenure, the Dons twice claimed the Del Rio League water polo titles (2003 and 2004) and played in the CIF Division III championship game in 2004. Leonardi was named the CIF Division III Coach of the Year in 2004 and also led the swimming team to the league title that same season.
Leonardi earned a bachelor of arts in biology and Spanish from Whittier College (Calf.) in 1998. He added a Master's degree in education from Whittier in 2001 and a single-subject teaching credential in biology and life sciences from the institution in 2003. As a collegiate player, Leonardi was a three-year starter and letterman in water polo at Whittier (1994-96).
Leonardi added a doctorate degree in educational leadership from Azusa Pacific University in 2011.
Leonardi and his wife, Kendra, reside in Ann Arbor.