Penn State Behrend Water Polo Head Coach Joe Tristan Steps Down

Courtesy: Penn State Behrend Athletics

ERIE, Pa. – The Penn State Behrend head men’s and women’s water polo coach, Joe Tristan, will step down following a 20-year head coaching stint with the Lions.

Tristan became the program’s second water polo coach and assistant men’s and women’s swimming coach in 2003. Under Tristan, the Lions totaled 142 wins combined while mentoring 37 All-Americans, 54 All-Conference/All-Tournament Team players, and three Rookies of the Year. In his 20 years, there have been a total of 350 student-athletes named to the All-Academic Team.

Behrend won a pair of Division III MPSF (Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) Championships (2018, 2019) and Tristan earned CWPA (Collegiate Water Polo Association) Coach of the Year on three occasions.

In the first 16 years, Coach Tristan was a part of the swimming program that won 24 combined AMCC championships. He also mentored 158 individual champions, 16 school and conference record holders, multiple NCAA qualifiers, one of which was a four-time all American.

Coach Tristan was no stanger to the classroom. In his time as a Lecturer, he was nominated twice for the Penn State Behrend Council of Fellows Excellence in Teaching Award.

“The last 20 years have been such a great experience and I would like to thank Athletic Director Brian Streeter for giving me the opportunity. I also want to thank head swimming and diving coach Jen Wallace for the great journey and memories of winning multiple championships and transforming the swim team into what it is today,” he said.  “Thank you to my assistant coach Gina-Bella Mata’afa for all her help over the last two years, and all her support in this transition, and I wish her great success in her future. It has been such a great honor to work in such an incredibly talented department, and I thank all the coaches, athletic trainers, and the support staff for lending me their ear and giving me advice.”

Tristan is retiring from the sport of water polo and is moving forward with coaching swimming and diving.  “I have met so many great Penn State Behrend water polo and swimming athletes over my years and I can’t express how honored and proud to have been a part of their student-athlete journey,” he said. “Every athlete that has come through our program had a major impact on my life and on my family’s life, and I will never forget the great memories we made.”

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