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Witt to lead former archrival

Water polo: Hoover High selects former area star to be coach of boys' and girls' teams

Tornadoes will have two of area's greatest players on same deck in fall with Witt and returning Kaplanyan.

August 23, 2011|By Charles Rich, charles.rich@latimes.com

As a player, Kevin Witt took to the local and international pool decks looking to dominate. Things turned out well for him while starring at Glendale High and while representing the United States at various levels.

Now, Witt would like to make a name for himself coaching the sport that's been dear to him for more than 20 years.

Witt's impeccable credentials led to him being named head coach of Hoover High's boys' and girls' water polo teams in late July. He succeeds Ara Oganesyan.

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It will be the first head coaching job for Witt, who graduated from Glendale in 1999 and Loyola Marymount University.

"I just wanted to take something in the area because I had a great affinity playing here," said Witt, who was tabbed the 1998 All-Area Boys' Water Polo Player of the Year after recording 128 goals, 101 assists and 164 steals. "A school in the area can have a great tradition and a team with the right leadership skills can be successful.

"I'm a disciplinarian and I'm very organized. I don't accept anything less. I'm big on school pride, pride in yourself and the program. You should represent yourself well."

Witt, who served as an assistant last season at Agoura High, will inherit a Hoover squad that finished 16-16 and 4-3 in the Pacific League for third place. The Tornadoes fell to Pasadena Poly, 14-8, in a CIF Southern Section Division V first-round match. The girls' team went 0-9, 0-6 in league for seventh place last season.

Hoover Athletic Director Jack Van Patten said Witt, who was named the 1998 CIF Southern Section Division III Co-Most Valuable Player and was a three-time All-American at Loyola, proved to be the ideal selection to take both teams to the next level.

"The big thing with him is that he's played and coached and has always been interested in the sport," Van Patten said. "He was a great candidate and he knows the area being well connected to the community.

"His life revolves around the sport and that's good. It's a great opportunity for him and he's a good fit. He's a great mentor to have around and he'll be great for the players. We think he can do some good things, not only now, but in the future."

Witt competed in the Pan American Junior Championships in Venezuela in 2000 and participated in the Federation Internationale De Natation Amateur (FINA) Junior Men's Water Polo Championships in Istanbul, Turkey, in 2001. He also tried out for the USA Men's Senior National Team for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

Witt will coach a Hoover boys' team that will likely be led by utility player Hakop Kaplanyan, who led the area with 138 goals en route to being named All-Area Player of the Year for the second consecutive time last season. Kaplanyan looked into transferring to Glendale and playing for the school's water polo team, but the transfer was disallowed by the CIF offices.

Now, Kaplanyan, a senior at Clark Magnet High in La Crescenta, will close out his high school career competing for Witt.

"I look forward to trying to win a championship with him," Kaplanyan said. "I'm looking forward to playing under him and I'm going to give it everything I've got and make the best out of my senior year."

Witt said Kaplanyan will have a big role on the team again.

"We are going to use his talent to the best of the team's ability," Witt said. "It's about him and the team being successful."

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