Serela Kay will be entering her fifth season at the helm for UCSB in the 2019 season.
In her fourth year with the team in 2018, Kay led the Gauchos to a 16-13 overall, 2-3 Big West record, culminating in a 10-9 overtime win over CSUN in the Big West Tournament fifth-place game. UCSB began the season with a 7-3 mark in January, good for both the most wins and the highest win percentage (.700) in the opening month of any season during Kay's tenure to that point. Five Gauchos would go on to earn postseason conference honors, led by All-Big West Second Team selections Kate Pipkin and Sarah Kreiser. Pipkin also earned an ACWPC All-American Honorable Mention nod after finishing third in the Big West in total points (79). The five All-Big West selections tied a program record set in 2016.
In 2016, Kay led the Gauchos to what has become known as the most successful season in the program's history. With a 19-14 overall and 3-2 conference record, UCSB won the Big West Championship for the first time, defeating No. 8 Hawai'i 11-5 in the championship game, and clinched the program's first ever NCAA Tournament berth. Furthermore, Kay became the first conference coach of the year winner in UCSB women's water polo history.
The Gauchos would receive recognition for their postseason success as a record five players were named All-Big West, including three first teamers, also a program record. UCSB reached its highest ranking ever at No. 7 for three straight weeks before closing out the season in the No. 9 spot. Overall, it enjoyed a record six consecutive weeks ranked inside the top 10.
In her first year, she coached the Gauchos to a 14-16 overall record with a 2-3 mark in Big West play. They ended their season with a dramatic 10-9 overtime win over Long Beach State to finish in fifth place at the Big West Tournament.
Under her tutelage, three Gauchos earned All-Big West status with Samantha Murphy being voted to the second team, while Bryn Hudson and Camila Schafer were named honorable mentions. In addition to her conference accolade, Murphy was also named Honorable Mention All-America for the second time of her career by the Association of Collegiate Water Polo.
Kay was hired as UCSB's women's water polo head coach on Jun. 30, 2014. She took over the Gauchos' program after serving the previous two years as the Associate Head Coach at the University of Hawai'i.
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 two-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.