SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – UC Santa Barbara has hired Serela Kay as its Head Women's Water Polo Coach, it was announced Monday. Kay will take over the Gauchos' program after serving the last three years as the Associate Head Coach at the University of Hawai'i.
"Coming back to Santa Barbara is not only a homecoming but a dream," Kay said. "I am honored and absolutely thrilled to lead the women of UCSB water polo. I would like to thank Mark Massari, Kelly Barsky, and Wolf Wigo for the opportunity to join the Gaucho family."
"The beautiful location, prestigious academics, and competitive athletic arena all make UCSB one of a kind. I look forward to sharing this with the student-athletes and being a part of their journey to earn a degree and compete as a Gaucho in the Big West Conference."
During Kay's time at UH, the Rainbow Wahine experienced their most successful seasons ever. In 2013, they won the Big West regular season and tournament championships, won 22 matches and advanced to their first NCAA Tournament. Ultimately they were knocked out in the semifinals by eventual national champion USC. In 2014, Hawai'i was 19-10 overall and finished third in the league.
"The Big West is arguably the most competitive conference in the sport with every team holding a national rank," Kay said. "I am excited to continue competition within the conference at UCSB."
Prior to her three-year run at UH, Kay spent two years as the Associate Head Coach at the University of Maryland and during that time, the program captured the 2011 Eastern College Athletic Conference 2011 crown and back-to-back Collegiate Water Polo Association division championships.
Kay previously enjoyed two stints as an assistant coach on both the Princeton University men's and women's staffs (2002-04, 2009-10). Her stay there was highlighted by a 2009 Mens CWPA Eastern Championship and third-place finish at the NCAA Championship.
The native of Annapolis, Md., has also coached on the West Coast with a four-year run as a women's assistant at California (2005-09). Prior to working at Cal, Kay was the director and senior head coach of the Santa Barbara Water Polo Foundation from 2004-05.
Kay's coaching resume also includes experience with the U.S. national program. She served as an assistant coach with the USA Water Polo Youth National Team for six seasons, leading the team to numerous international championships. She was also on the staff of the U.S. Women's Senior National Team that won a gold medal at the 2009 FINA World Championships in Rome.
As a player, Kay was a four-year starter at UCLA, during which time the Bruins captured three national titles in 1997, 1998 and 2000. She was also a member of the USA Junior National Team from 1995-97, helping Team USA to a gold medal at the 1996 Junior Pan American Games in Havana, Cuba.
Kay graduated from UCLA in 2000 with a degree in psychology, with a specialization in business and administration. She received a master's in sports science with a specialization in sport management from the United States Sports Academy in 2004, a master's in education from Cal in 2008, and an MBA from the University of Maryland, University College in 2012.
Wolf Wigo will continue to direct the men's program, remaining as director of water polo to assist Kay's program particularly in the area of fundraising and the campaign for the future new aquatics center. Former Gaucho Ryan McMillan ('94), who assisted both the men's and women's programs last year, will return to work for both Kay and Wigo alongside volunteer Rachel Nelson (UCSB class of '13) pending medical school admittance.