Coaches

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Luis Nicolao

Luis Nicolao began coaching the Navy AC Water Polo club in 2018 after he became the Naval Academy Men’s Head Water Polo coach.  He was named 2018 MAWPC – East Region Coach of the Year. 

Before coming to Navy, he was the men’s and women’s head water polo coach for 20 years at Princeton University.  While at Princeton, Luis was named the 2004 Association of Collegiate Water Polo Coaches Men's National Coach of the Year, won five Eastern Coach of the Year awards split between the men and the women and has garnered Southern Coach of the Year honors on seven occasions.

He directed the Princeton men and women to a combined eighteen Southern titles, eight Eastern crowns and made seven NCAA Tournament appearances. Collectively, Luis coached 29 Princeton student-athletes to a combined 65 All-America accolades with 15 men's team members collecting 34 All-America honors and 14 women tallying 31 All-America distinctions.

During his first season at Navy he lead them to an overall record of 15-14 the first winning record since 2015.

Coach Luis attended the Naval Academy (Class of ‘92) and graduated as the all-time leading scorer in Academy history as well as being the captain during the 1991 season. He was a three-time All-American and All-East selection and earned the Naval Academy Athletic Association’s Sword for Men as the top graduating male athlete during his time at the Naval Academy.

He was also a member of the U.S. National Team that won the gold medal at the World University Games. He also served as the U.S. men's national "B" team assistant coach.

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Tom Popp

Tom Popp began coaching the Navy AC Water Polo club in July 2018 when he returned as the Assistant Coach at the Naval Academy for the Men’s Water Polo team alongside his classmate and teammate, Luis Nicolao.   Coach Tom had served as an assistant coach for Navy from 2007-09, helping the Midshipmen to a pair of CWPA Eastern titles (2007, ‘08) and a 72-26 record during his three years as a member of the coaching staff.

During his first returning season at Navy (2018), he assisted the midshipmen to an overall record of 15-14, the first winning record since 2015.

Before his return to Navy, he coached the Varsity Boys Water Polo team at Gonzaga College High School in Washington D.C.   He coached the varsity team for five seasons. In November 2016, Popp led Gonzaga to an Eastern Prep Championship.

Coach Tom attended the Naval Academy (Class of ‘89) and graduated as the all-time leader in career assists in Academy history. He helped lead Navy to three Eastern Division Championships (1986, ’87, ‘88) and three NCAA tournament appearances. A two-time MVP of the Eastern Division (1987, ‘88), he also earned All-American Honorable Mention in 1987 and third-team All-American honors in 1988.   He was awarded the Naval Academy Athletic Association’s Sword for Men as the top graduating male athlete during his time at the Naval Academy.

Coach Tom also played on the U.S. Men's Junior National Team (1985-87) and the 19 and Under World Championships in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Following his senior NCAA season, he trained with the U.S. Men's National Team from 1989 through April 1991.

He was inducted into the CWPA Hall of Fame on November 2008, becoming the first Navy representative to be inducted into the CWPA Hall of Fame.

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Ken Vincent

Ken Vincent joined the water polo staff as an assistant coach in August of 2020.

Prior to joining the Navy water polo coaching staff, Vincent coached and played club water polo in the greater Washington, D.C. area, as well as in Pennsylvania for over three decades. He coached high school and club water polo teams, as well as swimming teams. In addition, Vincent served as a NCAA water polo referee from 2013 to 2019.

In 2011, Vincent founded the Buxmont Water Polo Club which has become the leading high school water polo club in Pennsylvania. Vincent became a regular visitor to the U.S. Naval Academy, supporting club water polo and coaching at summer water polo camps.

A graduate of Lehigh University, Vincent played for the Mountain Hawk water polo team in the Middle Atlantic Conference from 1976 to 1979. After graduating from Lehigh in 1980 with a bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering, he was commissioned in the U.S. Air Force and served on active duty for four years assigned to the Air Force Systems Command, Air Force Military Airlift Command, and the Pacific Air Force. Vincent retired from civilian federal government service, but continues to support federal agencies as a contracted employee.

Vincent is married to the former Kerri Baker, and the couple have a daughter, Katie, and a son, Ryan. Vincent and his wife reside in Annapolis. Their daughter Katie resides in Fort Worth, Texas where she is a firefighter, while son Ryan resides in Boston, Mass. where he is a physicist.

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Jill Lau

Jill Lau returned to the Navy AC Water Polo club in September 2021. Jill last coached Navy AC from 2009-2014 and helped lead Navy AC to multiple titles, including back-to-back American Water Polo National State Challenge championships and Junior Olympic appearances. Jill also served as an assistant coach for the University of Maryland (UMD) NCAA Division 1 Women’s Water Polo from 2010-2011, assisting the team to its highest national ranking (#10) and highest finish at the Easterns Championships. Jill was also the Head Coach for the UMD Men’s Club Water Polo, where she led the Terps to a national ranking, its first CWPA Men’s Atlantic Division Title, and Club Nationals appearance. She was recognized in 2011 as the CWPA Coach of the Year and Maryland Club Coach of the Year. Jill also coached the U.S. Olympic Development Group’s Northeast Zone 18U Girls Team and led the team to a 2nd place finish.

Jill attended the University of Maryland from 2005-2009 and was a four-year letter winner for the Maryland’s Division 1 Women’s Varsity Water Polo Team. She helped lead the team to its highest national ranking since its inception. Jill also played for the Hong Kong Women’s Water Polo team and led the team to a first-place finish in the 12th Asia Pacific Water Polo Tournament.

 Jill commissioned in the U.S. Navy in 2014 and is currently assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency. She is married with two children, ages 4 and 6 months. She holds a Master’s in Public Policy from Maryland’s School of Public Policy and a B.S. in Biology from UMD.

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Cole Lindner

Cole Lindner started swimming competitively at the age of six for club teams in the Maryland area. He transitioned into playing water polo in high school were he played for four years at Loyola Blakefield. He won 2 MIAA varsity championships while at Loyola Blakefield. He played club water polo while in college and also coached a college water polo class.

He joined the Navy AC Water Polo coaching staff in 2020 and coached the Navy AC 18U boys Junior Olympic Team to a 5th place finish in 2021.

Currently, Cole works for a Cyber Security Company as a commercial territory manager for the Southeast.

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Lily Doerfler

Lily began her water polo career playing for Navy AC Water Polo under Mike Schofield and Mladen Stancic until she graduated from high school in 2012. She attended Wagner College where she was a dominate player on their Division 1 Water Polo team. Her college summers were spent coaching Navy Water Polo Camps and the club team.
During her time at Wagner College she was part of an historically successful team as well as garnering individual achievements. She was named a member of the All-MAAC First Team, ranked fourth in program history in career goals with 271, was a member of the program’s all-time leading class in victories with 105, and she was in the starting line up for every single game (143 games) during her four years with the Seahawks team.
After college, she went on to play water polo in Australia before returning back to Washington, DC where she worked in digital marketing for 5 years. Back in Annapolis, Lily rejoined the coaching staff in 2021 and now works at a local marketing agency. She loves helping young players fall in love with the sport and assisting older players with fine tuning their skills to play at the next level! Her sister is also an alum of the Navy program, graduating high school in 2015 and played Division 1 against Lily's rival school, at Marist College.
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John Wagner

John brings a variety of water polo experience to the Navy AC team. Four years ago, John started the Archbishop Spalding High School Varsity Water Polo Team where he continues to serve as head coach. He has been able to teach new players the game of water polo quickly to become a solid team in Baltimore’s MIAA Conference. Prior to Spalding HS, John served as a high school and college water polo official for 25 years. John joined the Navy AC water polo staff in November 2021. 

John played Division I water polo at the University of Dayton from 1987-1991. Playing in the Southeast Conference, John was named to the All-Conference team his junior and senior seasons. He was also recognized by being named 3 time MVP for the Dayton Flyers. After college, he played Senior Nationals for Kingfish out of Reading, PA. 

John is currently a bio-tech sales manager. He has also worked as a teacher, an assistant principal, and a high school coach (swimming, lacrosse, and basketball) for Anne Arundel County. John lives in Crofton with his wife Jane Ann and their 3 children. 

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Chip Zenke

Chip began his water polo career in St. Louis, Missouri where competitive water polo has been played since the 1904 Saint Louis World’s Fair and Summer Olympics!
  In middle school he was recruited by his older brother to practice with the University City High School (UCHS) water polo team. Chip played for the Country Day School in the summers for Don Casey, named Water Polo Coach of the year. While at UCHS, Chip was the only athlete to Varsity his freshman year and won two state water polo titles against 12 active high school teams, going undefeated in his junior year. He became captain of the swim team and selected for the All-American Water Polo Team in the state. His Country Day summer team would take second place at the Junior Olympics losing only to California.
   
Chip is proud that the goalie from his high school team, Mike Vanderwaerdt, received a full scholarship as the starting goalie for UCLA, and his team's whole man Andy Coon received a scholarship to Brown University and became captain of the water polo team. Chip was invited to play water polo for The George Washington University, but due to health limitations decided to forgo the opportunity and graduated from George Mason University.  There he found a passion for racing catamaran sailboats and is proud to have completed the Worrell 1000 catamaran endurance race from Miami to Virginia Beach on a 390 pound two-man boat.
   Chip is the founder of Circa Energy and manages it with his talented wife Elena.  Their solar company recently installed a solar power plant on the new Hopper Hall building at USNA.