Brian Melstrom, who coached the Newport Harbor High girls’ water polo team to the CIF Southern Section Division 2 title after a thrilling 4-3 win over Santa Barbara on Feb. 24, said Tuesday that he is retiring as aquatics coach at Newport Harbor.
Melstrom said he is out after three seasons as Sailors girls’ water polo coach. He will coach the girls’ swim team for the 10th season this spring, before stepping away from high school coaching altogether.
“It’s a decision that my family and I have been mulling over for a pretty long time,” said Melstrom, 45. “Being a coach and a teacher, a dad and a husband, it’s all about maintaining a healthy balance. It’s a family decision that my wife [Autumn] and I made, to step away from coaching and focus on teaching and being a father.”
Melstrom has two daughters at home; Harper is 7 years old and Reese is 4. He said he will remain a math teacher at Newport Harbor.
He let his girls’ water polo team know on Thursday that he was resigning.
“They understood when I looked at them all in the face and said, ‘My daughters need a daddy,’” Melstrom said.
Newport Harbor boys’ water polo coach Ross Sinclair will be the interim girls’ water polo coach and lead the girls in the upcoming club season, athletic director Jerry Murray said.
Melstrom said the decision to walk away has nothing to do with Newport Harbor winning the section title this year, its first since 2012. He said he made the decision prior to the playoffs beginning.
“I don’t want any part of this season to be about me,” Melstrom said. “If we would have lost in the quarterfinals, I would have been done. If we went to Division 1, I was done. I already knew in my heart that this was going to be my last season … It just happened that I went out on top. I’m super-stoked for the program, the school. I think even being Division 2, [winning CIF] is really memorable and a great accomplishment for this team.”
The Sailors were 43-37 in Melstrom’s three seasons in charge, finishing second in the Sunset League each year. He was an assistant coach for Bill Barnett for 12 years before Barnett retired in 2015. Prior to that, he was the Sailors’ athletic trainer for five years.
As for a timetable for hiring a new girls’ water polo coach, Murray said none is yet in place.
“I’d like to hire a football coach first,” he said with a laugh.
Newport Harbor is interviewing candidates for its football coaching job this week.