Menlo News October 26, 2022

Knights water polo assistant Dettamanti passes

Legend had returned to coach under his former player
Dante Dettamanti, far left, with 2019 Menlo boys' water polo.

10.26.2022 – Menlo School assistant boys’ water polo assistant coach and consultant Dante Dettamanti passed away Monday night. He was 80.

Dettamanti came to Menlo in the 2019 season, to serve as an assistant coach and consultant for Menlo boys’ water polo at the behest of head coach and his former player Jack Bowen. ​Dettamanti headed the U.S. national team​, and ​coached Stanford ​for 25 years, including when Bowen was a two-time All-American and Academic All-American and an NCAA MVP​ for the Cardinal​.

“These years when he coached with me at Menlo were really special for me because it meant I saw Dante on a daily basis. We got to talk polo but, really, he was just as interested in talking about life in general. There was laughter on the pool deck daily.”

Dettamanti helped the Knights to a Roche Tournament title, a trip to the CCS Open semifinals and NorCals in 2019 and 2021. He ​stayed through the ​pandemic-shortened season​ ​in 2020 and through the 2022 season thus far.

”While he pushed us hard, he really emphasized working smarter not harder, and helped us work with purpose and intent more than anything,” said Zayd Mahmoud, a 2021 graduate and UC Irvine sophomore goalie. “He encouraged us to play selflessly, and gave us a framework to create as many opportunities as possible in games. He took the players he had to work with and created a product greater than the sum of the individuals”

A collegiate coaching legend, he also helped students navigate the ever-changing recruiting scene. He earned a degree in engineering from UC Davis and earned his master’s degree in exercise physiology from UCLA after a stint in the Army.
“I remember him conveying his faith in me, and encouraging me to trust that everything would work out the way it was meant to in my future,” Mahmoud said. “He was a very bright, kind, positive man, and one of the smartest coaches I have ever been able to play for.”

In 25 years at Stanford, Dettamanti’s teams won eight NCAA Championships and had six second-place finishes. He became only the second collegiate coach in NCAA history to record over 600 career wins, and the only collegiate coach to win NCAA Championships in four different decades, the ’70s, ’80s ’90s, and 2000s. His eight National championships ties the NCAA record for the most in NCAA history, along with the legendary Pete Cutino of Cal. He has been named league Coach of the Year 10 times and NCAA Coach of the Year six different times. He had great success at the International level. He coached the USA World University Games teams to Gold and Silver medals in 1979 and 1981; the highest finish ever for a USA National team. Dettamanti was a two-sport all-conference athlete at UC Davis swimming and water polo.
“The water polo community consistently joked about our having the most overqualified assistant coach in the history of sports,” Bowen said. “It was the perfect job for him because it allowed him to truly coach without all the minutia. And what a real gift to these young men, to train under such an icon of our sport and to learn from him.”