Scot Larson knows what the expectations are inside this swimming pool nestled in the northern part of the Lompoc Valley.
He’s aware that there’s one CIF championship, 19 Los Padres League titles and a pool of pride for Cabrillo High girls water polo – the program he’s had to take the reins for after previous head coach Ryan Hill stepped away before the league slate. He knows that past CHS water polo coaches like Bob Boyer, Bob Lawrence, Joel Jory and Corey McIntyre have added league banners or CIF titles with their coaching in the pool.
And Larson has the Conquistadores at the place they’ve grown accustomed to: the top of the LPL standings.
After being sworn in to take over the girls polo program, the Conqs are sitting at 14-5 and an LPL best 4-0. Larson recently won his first marquee league showdown last Wednesday with the Conqs, a 13-7 thriller against fellow LPL powerhouse Santa Ynez.
Larson smiles at what he was getting himself into the moment he was named the interim leader for one of CHS’s most successful programs.
“I’m very aware of the expectations and tradition of Cabrillo water polo. It started back with Bob Boyer and Bob Lawrence. And now, it has continued for a number of years with coaches who have played for them. We’re keeping that tradition alive,” Larson said.
He’s not much of a follower toward utilizing whatever techniques and philosophies past CHS coaches have used. He’s implemented his own blueprint which stresses one important “C” word in the water: Communication.
“I think they have adjusted real quick. We started working out and getting that adjustment in right away, especially in terms of communication. They’ve been real great and they’re working really hard,” Larson said. “It’s been a switch over. I’ve taken over the team and they follow me. They’re a great group. I enjoy being around them and they’re working hard.”
One player who immediately bought into Larson’s scheme is one of his younger rising stars Mary Rhodes. The freshman has witnessed a change in attitude with Larson at the helm.
“We’ve morphed and we love it,” Rhodes said. “We felt like it was just easier (with him). He understood us more and we had some issues with communication in the team itself. The drills he showed us and worked with were perfect. With his coaching, we play more like a team and we play for Cabrillo.”
While Larson has his own set standards, he still seeks advice from Lawrence, who remains an ardent supporter of CHS water polo.
“He’s a valuable resource and influence. He was a great coach and we love having him around when he can,” Larson said.
His team still isn’t a finished product yet, Larson said. He adds he’s working with his girls from the communication aspect to installing their offensive sets. He’s also preparing them for the always competitive Irvine Tournament, which is set for Feb. 1 and features what he calls some intense competition.
“That tournament is going to present some challenges because we’re playing against some top teams. And that really gives them a good sense of where we need to be and where we want to be when it comes time for CIF,” Larson said.
As he’s going on one month as the new leader of CHS girls water polo, he and his team have made it clear: They’re not going through a transition period.
“The goals we’ve set for ourselves remain: We want another league championship and we want to get into CIF, plus see how far we can go,” Larson said.
Lastly, he concludes that he won’t carry the interim label for very long.
“I’m in it for the long haul. We’re already making plans with how we’re going to adapt and work on next year,” Larson said. “We’ve got a great group of young girls. We’ve got four freshmen, two sophomores and six juniors. We’re not losing much for next year so that’s going to establish some consistency with moving our program upward.”