Give big or go home

Jacob Lui

Coach Edwin Samuels coaches the varsity boys water polo team, using all the experience he has had as professional player. Photo by Jacob Lui. Australia, NCAA Championships, Eastern Europe, Mexico, Canada – the new varsity boys water polo coach Edwin Samuels has had a prolific career. The list of his accomplishments seems to make students wonder: why our school? From the local Mountain View High School, Samuels climbed to the top and was considered one of the best players in the country, captain of the exclusive 12-man All-American team in 1974 and the Most Valuable Player of the Australian Professional Leagues in 1977.

Replacing his good friend of 30 years, late coach Ron Freeman, Samuels introduced himself to the team last spring. Over the summer,  he practiced with the team without pay. Samuels’s background has sparked his passion for giving back to the community – no matter how many accomplishments he has had. Having previously coached at a private school, Samuels decided that he wanted to inspire the players at public schools, the educational system of which, in his opinion, has been receiving the least amount of attention. The desire for giving big brought him to this school.

 

Q:What sets you apart from other coaches?

A: I’m not so sure that I’m better than other coaches, but what makes me different is that I’m a pretty wild guy. I’ve got a wild personality, and I’m a born entertainer. I’m full of energy. I’m pretty fiery. [Assistant coach Michael Yates] will tell you that I am the most famous player in the country, mostly not because of my talent but because of my fiery personality. I was an undersized, undertalented, and average-intelligence guy who really wanted to be good – really desperately wanted to be a good at everything . . . I’m very competitive, very driven, and very fiery.

 

Q: Why did you want to coach at MVHS?

A: I don’t know –  a sense of social responsibility. I think we should all contribute something to the community. It’s not my job or anything, but I understand water polo really well, and I’ve had a lot of success. There are always a lot of schools which need coaches; there is just a dearth of water polo coaches at the high school level. You can work with young people – maybe you can change their experience somehow, make it better, make them more confident … And I’m a big proponent of public schools. That’s my preference. They usually get the short end of the stick in terms of facilities or coaches; they usually never get the top coaches. They get whatever the department can put out.

 

Q: How did you apply your experience as a professional to enhance the MVHS aquatics team?

A: In my mind, [with] the little I could contribute, I wanted to make them feel like they have self-esteem and play like they belong out there. Iím more experienced than probably any coach in the nation. I have the best winning record in the history of waterpolo, and if I can give them the coaching that private schools get – or better – I feel like Iím helping the problem.

 

Q: Do you have a team motto?

A: I’m not much of a motto guy, but I just try to say: Don’t settle for average. I don’t care what God gave you, you use it to your maximum. There’s no life if you just settle for average – it’s an unacceptable way to live. There is just too much fun to be had if you put yourself out there. Life is a joy if you go out and maximize your experience … There’s not a guy out here who doesn’t have more physical talent that I had, but I just had to be good at things.