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Comet’s new water polo coach makes a splash

A red and yellow water polo ball floats close to a black net.
Water polo ball after scoring a point. (Johnny Jones/The Telescope)

Jackie Puccino is a former semi-professional water polo player looking to lead her team to a promising season.

Puccino has been playing water polo for 10 years, the sport caught her attention in her junior year of high school after knee surgery during her freshman year ended her career in basketball.

Puccino brings experience to the pool deck as she was an ex-Comet water polo player who was part of the 2008 Pacific Coast Athletic Conference Championship, while finishing sixth in National Alliance of Two Years College Athletic Administrators cup.

“My freshman year I saw the potential of how great Palomar water polo can be,” said Puccino.

Puccino was the captain of the water polo team during sophomore year in 2009 finishing with 87 goals.

After attending Palomar for two years, Puccino earned a scholarship to NCAA Division I Marist College of Poughkeepsie, N.Y. In her senior year, Puccino played 38 games leading her team in goals (49) and assists (49) being named to All-MAAC second team.

Puccino got a chance to play semi-professional water polo in an Australian Premier League (APL). She played in Perth, Australia for the Claremont Dolphins.

In the APL, Puccino got a chance to play against future Olympians from Australia and several other countries. She said that her trip was an amazing experience.

Puccino was the associate head coach in her last two years for Palomar while she was getting her master’s degree, spending a total of four years being an assistant head coach.

This season’s water polo team is filled with freshman and two sophomores. “This year is a rebuilding year, with a young team and the team getting used to my coaching style,” said Puccino.

The team is exceeding Puccino’s expectations. As of Oct. 7, the women’s water polo record is 9-7 overall, with a 3-1 record during conference play, which is a great record for a rebuilding year.

It may take a while to get settled in with a new coach, but the Comets are having no problem adjusting to Puccino’s style of coaching while encountering this new road.

Emma Thomas is a freshman player who relishes Puccino’s coaching style

“She likes to focus on our positives and not so much on our mistakes,” said Thomas.

Thomas also pointed out the team started the season as one another relying on themselves, but as the season has progressed, they have worked together to win games.

Thomas explained that Puccino’s age plays a key factor in their performance since she is young and it is easy to relate to her.

Thomas says the biggest factor to Puccino’s coaching style is the aspect that you can achieve a lot of potential playing as a team in water polo.

Puccino said she is very excited for this opportunity to be the head coach of the women’s water polo team and to be back at her alma mater.

Building the water polo program by getting more women to join the team is one of her main goals as head coach.


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Comet’s new water polo coach makes a splash