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Longtime assistant coach Jeff Dacus is taking over Cabrillo High School’s boys varsity  water polo and swimming teams.

After 16 years at the helm, Cabrillo boys water polo coach Joel Jory has stepped down, but for a good reason.

The motivating factor for the move was a promotion into administrative work. Jory will begin the school year as the assistant principal at Vandenberg Middle School.

“I got my administrative credentials about five years ago and it was something I kept my eye on,” Jory said. “Then it ended up being that a position at Vandenberg came up, so I applied and I got the position.”

Other Cabrillo coaches teach at other schools and are able to continue coaching, such as Cabrillo girls soccer coach Derrick Wong.

But the duties and school times made it hard for Jory to continue running the water polo program.

“Cabrillo has the first start time in the district and Vandenberg has the last start time,” Jory said. “So they are not out of school until 3:20 or so, which means no athletics for the kids and the times would interfere with our (Lompoc) Aquatic Center times, so in the best interest for everyone and to keep the continuity going, it was the right decision for not only me, but for the program as well.”

And Jory is quite comfortable leaving the program in the hands of longtime assistant Jeff Dacus. Jory also coached the boys swim team at Cabrillo. Dacus will take over the head coaching position there as well.

“I feel a lot better with Dacus,” Jory said. “When he first came in I told him it could be two years or 20 years before I moved on to something and I think it’s been seven, but I think he should be next in line.

“Jeff has close ties to the program — he played here and was part of our CIF championship team in 1996. He has handled the weight program with the guys, in both polo and swimming, even when he was the coach of boys tennis.”

Jory knows exactly what Dacus will bring to the program, besides consistency.

“He brings enthusiasm, he has great knowledge of the game and he played at Cuesta and Cal Poly,” Jory said. “He will bring stability to the program and will keep the traditions at Cabrillo alive.

“It definitely made the decision easy, knowing that the program was going to be in great hands.”

Dacus can’t wait to get started.

“I’m very excited,” he said. “It’s something where I’ve already put a lot of work into this program.

“I’ve learned a lot from Joel and hopefully I can just pick up where he left off — we’re both products of the program, we’ve had a lot of the same experiences and that’s what’s nice about this, it’s not a big culture shock for the players because we will continue to do what we always have done.”

Jory and Dacus played water polo at Cabrillo, Jory under head coach Bob Boyer and Dacus under Bob Lawrence, although both men were the assistants to each other during those years.

“Lawrence was an extremely hard worker and the same for Boyer,” Dacus said. “It’s very easy to show up and work your tail off as an athlete when you know that your coach is working his tail off for you.

“As a player under Lawrence, there was no way I could slack off ever, because he never slacked off.”

The same style and tradition continued over the past 16 years under Jory, who was also the boys swim coach for 16 years, coached the girls water polo program for six years and for one year had all three plus the girls swim team as well.

“That was a fun year,” Jory said.

Jory will still be available to help Dacus as the new head coach settles in.

“I’m moving on to having a consulting role here,” Jory said. “I’ll do some scouting and help with questions that come with organizing the program. There is a lot more to organizing a polo program off of the pool deck, so I’ll always be available for him.”

Dacus is confident that the program will continue to thrive even with the coaching change.

“I don’t think I’ll bring much different, it’s hard to foresee,” he said. “I’m sure when it becomes your program things fall in place, but I’m going to run things just like we always have.

“He’s leaving me with a good group of guys and it’s so good to be able to go from Boyer to Lawrence for over 30 years, Joel coming in and coaching for 16 years and now I’m stepping in — it’s not like I’m brand new around here, so it will stay consistent.”

Jory has confidence that the program will continue to thrive.

“He’ll have a pretty good team going forward,” Jory said. “It will be good for Jeff to start off with a real quality group of returners — he has some fire power coming.”

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