Merrill Moses Elevated to Head Coach of Pepperdine Men’s Water Polo Team

Courtesy: Pepperdine Athletics

MALIBU, Calif. — Current associate head coach Merrill Moses has been promoted to head coach of the Pepperdine men’s water polo program, Director of Athletics Dr. Steve Potts announced today.

Effective April 1, current head coach Terry Schroeder will continue to work with the team in an associate head coach role in 2024 as he enters his 32nd season at Pepperdine.

“I am extremely honored and excited to be named the head coach for the Pepperdine men’s water polo,” Moses said. “I would like to thank President Gash, Tim Perrin, Steve Potts and coach Terry Schroeder for believing in me and giving me this opportunity to lead one of the top Division I water polo programs in the country. It was always a dream of mine to come back to my alma mater and coach the program that meant so much to me and made me the man I am today. I plan to continue to coach the program with the core values we have in place and have our athletes continue to excel and be successful in the pool and in the classroom.”

Moses, a three-time Olympian and former All-American and national champion water polo player for the Waves, returned to Pepperdine in 2012 to join the coaching staff. He was then promoted to the position of associate head coach prior to the 2017 season, and 2024 will be his first year as head coach and his 13th year on the staff.

“I am thrilled to welcome Merrill to this head coach position and look forward to continuing the pursuit of championships for our men’s water polo program,” Potts said. “Merrill is uniquely qualified to provide excellent leadership for this program. He has made invaluable contributions to Pepperdine water polo as a student-athlete, as an Olympian, as a professional athlete and as a coach. Great days are ahead for our water polo program.”

I am also very excited that Terry Schroeder has agreed to remain with the program as an associate head coach. Terry has led our program with distinction and with a commitment to everything for which Pepperdine stands. I am thankful for his continuing commitment.”

Over the past 12 years with Moses on the coaching staff, the Waves have gone 179-138 (.565) and have won four conference titles. Moses has also served as the interim co-head coach of the Waves in 2012 and helped Pepperdine to an 11-13 overall record. The team achieved a national ranking as high as #4 during the regular season.

Moses then moved into the position of assistant coach in 2013 when Schroeder returned as head coach. With Moses on staff, the Waves won the inaugural Golden Coast Conference Tournament title in 2016, and he coached the Waves’ all-time leader in goalie saves, Zack Rhodes. In 2019, the Waves repeated as GCC champions and returned to the NCAA Championships for the first time since 1997, while making the national semifinals. Pepperdine also won the inaugural West Coast Conference regular season title in 2023.

Moses, a goalkeeper who helped lead Pepperdine to the 1997 NCAA championship and the United States to a silver medal at the 2008 Olympics, had been playing both professionally and with the U.S. squad for more than a decade before also turning his attention to coaching.

He had given up water polo in 2004 and was working in the mortgage industry before getting a call to rejoin the U.S. squad in 2006. He went on to become the starting goalkeeper for the United States at both the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Olympics. In 2008, Moses was part of a team ranked ninth in the world, but the Americans got hot at the right time and made it all the way to the gold-medal game.

Moses also helped the U.S. to gold medals at the 2007, 2011 and 2015 Pan American Games and he was part of eight top-five finishes in the FINA World League Super Finals, including a second-place result in 2008 and a third-place standing in 2003.
He was inducted into the USA Water Polo Hall of Fame as part of the class of 2021.

He has played professionally in Croatia, Italy and Spain and with the New York Athletic Club (he was named MVP of the 2010 USAWP Men’s National Championships).

A native of Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., who attended Peninsula High School, Moses played four seasons for the Waves between 1995-98. He earned All-American first team honors in 1997, was on the second team in 1998 and was an honorable mention in 1996. He was also named All-Mountain Pacific Sports Federation all four years, including the first team in 1997.

Moses was named one of three tri-MVPs of the 1997 NCAA Championships after Pepperdine defeated USC, 8-7 in overtime, for the school’s first-ever NCAA title in the sport.

Moses graduated from Pepperdine in 1999 with a degree in public relations. He was also inducted into the Pepperdine Athletics Hall of Fame in 2013.

He and his wife Laura have three children: Adrianna Nicole, Makenna Merrill and Brooklyn Ann.

First of all, I want to express my deepest gratitude to Pepperdine for giving me the incredible opportunity to be the head coach for the past three decades,” Schroeder said. “It has been a huge honor and I have loved working with so many great coaches, athletes and administrators. I am excited for a new chapter of Pepperdine water polo. I had the opportunity to coach Merrill at Pepperdine in the 90’s and then with our Olympic team in 2008 and 2012. Merrill was a great leader in the pool and over the past 12 years he has been my associate head coach. I have watched him grow as a man and a coach and now it is his time to take over this program and lead Pepperdine to a new level of success. Merrill has a great vision of where he wants to lead the program and I am 100% behind him. I am here to support him in any way that I can as he takes over as the new head coach”.

Schroeder posted a record of 340-220 (.607) in his first 20 seasons as head coach and has a career record of 508-345 (.595).  He led the Waves to their first-ever national championship in 1997. Not only was Schroeder the 1997 National Coach of the Year, he also earned conference coach of the year honors five times (Golden Coast in 2016 and 2019, MPSF in 1997 and 1998, and Big West in 1989).

Along with his impressive record at the helm of the program and NCAA championship title, Schroeder led the Waves to a third-place NCAA finish in 1991, fourth-place in 1989 and fifth-place in 1987, 1990 and 1992. In 2019, he led the Waves back to the NCAA Championships for the first time since 1997 and reached the national semifinal.
He also coached the USA squad to the silver medal at the 2008 Olympics.

Not only is Schroeder an incredible coach, he is also regarded as one of the world’s all-time outstanding players, he was the U.S. National Team’s captain from 1983-92 and was part of the team for 16 years. He was a four-time Olympian for the U.S. (including the boycotted 1980 Games), which won silver medals in 1984 and 1988 and placed fourth in 1992. He helped the U.S. win its first-ever major international competition in 1991, as the Americans captured the FINA Cup in Barcelona by beating longtime nemesis Yugoslavia in the title game.

Schroeder was inducted into the CoSIDA Academic All-America Hall of Fame in 2013, the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 2005, the U.S. Water Polo Hall of Fame in 1998 and the Pepperdine Athletics Hall of Fame in 1985.

He and his wife, Lori, have two daughters, Leanna (a Pepperdine alum who played beach volleyball) and Sheridan.

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