Instrumental in shaping and navigating both the girls' water polo and swimming programs of Crescenta Valley High into two of the school's and area's most consistently successful teams, Coach Pete Loporchio has moved on to chart the course of the L.A. Valley College aquatics programs and Brent Danna has moved in to steer the Falcons' respective ships.
"I'm definitely excited. To inherit a team that went 31-1 and went as far as it did last season and has only lost a few players and has the nucleus back is really exciting," said Danna, who, first-year coach or not, didn't hesitate to add the program's aspirations are to win a first-ever CIF championship for the program. "The competition's gonna be stiff throughout the division, but when you have the talent that we have at CV, the ultimate goal is always to win CIF."
Danna was hired late last week, he said, to take over both the girls' water polo and swimming teams, left vacant when Loporchio accepted positions helming Valley's women's water polo and swimming programs. Originally, Loporchio took on the women's water polo position in late-March, and was intending on staying on as the CV girls' water polo coach. But he was later offered the Valley swimming job and, with an overlap between the high school girls' polo season and the college women's swimming season, "it wouldn't be fair to either program," said Loporchio, who coached the girls' water polo team the last six seasons.
Loporchio, who began the CV girls' water polo program along with Peter Kim, the school's current girls' athletic director, in 1996, leaves on the heels of the girls' swimming team winning its fifth straight Pacific League title in the spring and the girls' water polo team having won its third straight league crown before advancing to the CIF Southern Section Division V semifinals and ending the season with a 31-1 record.
"It's bittersweet," said Loporchio, 51, of leaving the water polo program after such a great season and with such talent set to return. "Obviously, there's a tremendous amount of talent coming back and upside. Honestly, I'd rather leave with the cupboard still full."
Danna, 27, attended El Toro High, where he played water polo for a well-regarded program in Orange County, considered a hot bed for high school water polo. He later assisted at the school, was a head coach for the Villa Park girls' water polo team, assisted for a Golden West College team that won a state title in 2009 and, for the last two seasons, has been an assistant for the Crescenta Valley boys' water polo and swimming teams.
"We've all been impressed with how he works with the players," Kim said, "his willingness to teach the game, his ideas, not only to continue the traditions, but put his two cents in to get even better.
"He has a wealth of knowledge."
Danna inherits a team that is scheduled to see the returns of All-Area standouts Breanna Lawton, Gabriel Isacson and Shannon Hovanesian, among others, who propelled the Falcons to the semifinals for a second straight year. While Danna has obviously seen his share of success, he'll be looked on to continue a winning tradition for both water polo and swimming, which boasts the return of standout Iva Icheva.
"I don't know if replacement is the word," said Kim, who's coached alongside Loporchio in both water polo and swimming. "I don't think we're looking to replace Pete Loporchio and his legacy. At the same time, we're fortunate to have Brent Danna accept the position with his experience. He's passionate … and he's a fresh face to the program and I think he'll definitely carry on the tradition."
Loporchio, who had previously assisted at Valley for a pair of seasons in 2001 and 2002, now dives into some new waters at the junior college level.
"I don't know if it's scary, but it's definitely a challenge," said Loporchio, who will continue on as a science teacher at Crescenta Valley.
Danna has also been a teacher at Crescenta Valley for the past two years, a position he'll continue and one he believes is a plus in running a successful program for myriad reasons, including seeing his players throughout the day, the ability to have lunch meetings, etc.
"It's an absolute advantage," Danna said. "It's just, all and all, a better situation."
And for Danna, though he has high hopes and winning expectations, he believes the most important tradition he has to continue is making sure the Falcons are as good out of the pool as they are in it.
"Whether we win or lose, that's awesome, but the ultimate goal, which was in place long before me, is to make sure these girls and boys are extremely successful when they leave here," Danna said.