Daniel Leyson has been passionate about water polo both as a player and coach for over 25 years. He began his career in 1984 at Sunny Hills High School in Fullerton, Calif. Under the leadership of the legendary coach Jim Sprague, Leyson participated in a program that won the league championship title for 22 consecutive years.
From there he went on to play for the University of Southern California, where he was
a four-year starter (1989-92) and a three-time All-American. Leyson captured first-
team All-American honors as a senior in 1992. He was the overall top scorer at the 1992 NCAA Tournament, leading the Trojans to a third-place finish.
After graduating from USC in 1992, he competed with the USA National Team in 1994 and 1995 and played professionally in Europe from 1995-98 for Club Natació/Atlétic Barceloneta, a first-division Spanish club team. Leyson played in the post-season LEN Trophy games in Barcelona, Spain, and Belgrade, Serbia. He retired from playing in 1998, but continued to live and work in Barcelona for the following two years.
In 2000, Leyson returned home and took up coaching, working for two years as an
assistant coach of the men’ s and women’ s teams at USC, under Jovan Vavic. He served as head coach at Loyola High School in the fall of 2002, but he left that winter to accept an irresistible position: assistant coach for the U.S. men’ s senior national team.
For two years, Leyson worked under Ratko Rudic, who has been called the world’ s best water polo coach, having won three Olympic gold medals as a coach and one as a player. While Leyson was coaching for the USA National Team, he participated in countless international training sessions and major tournaments, including the FINA World League, 2003 FINA World Championships, 2003 Pan American Games and the 2004 Athens Olympics. During this same time, he helped organize the Olympic Water Polo Academy, a clinic for young players that featured instruction from USA National Team players and coaches.
In 2005, Leyson became the head coach of the Rose Bowl Water Polo Club. The club,
when he joined, had just 70 members and was underperforming. Since then, Leyson has
grown the program to more than 220 members, ages 8 to 18, from 70 area schools. He
implemented a rigorous training program that relies heavily on physical conditioning and
fundamental-skills training. Now Rose Bowl consistently fields strong teams on all levels
and participates in all major tournaments. In summer 2010, he led the 16-under boys’
team to a first-place finish at the Ironman League Superfinal, for which he won “ best
coach” of the tournament. The 18-under boys’ team won U.S. Club Championships
for the first time in the club’ s history. In February 2011, Rose Bowl boys won gold
medals at the 14-under, 16-under and 18-under levels at the South Florida International
Tournament. The girls’ teams at Rose Bowl have been gaining momentum with several
strong finishes in major tournaments, including a first-place finish for the 14-under
team at the Orange County Cup in March 2011. In February 2011, Leyson received the Bill Barnett Distinguished Men's Coaching Award (Scholastic) at the USA Water Polo Assembly.
In addition, Leyson was the assistant coach at Los Angeles Valley College from 2006-
08. He was named the 2006 Coastal California Zone Development Coach of the Year,
and he guided his team to a first-place finish in 2007 and a second-place finish in 2006 at the National Youth Camp Tournament. As head coach of the U.S. team for the 2007 Pan America Maccabiah Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina, he led his team to a gold medal. He also served as an assistant coach for the 2010 USA Youth National Team.
He continues to run the Rose Bowl club while also working as an assistant men’ s
coach at UCLA, under Adam Wright. Leyson lives in Eagle Rock, Calif., with his wife,
Camille; his daughter, Mia; a German shorthaired pointer; and five chickens.