Gary O'Brien joins the VC family as the men's water polo head coach in 2020-21. He comes to Ventura with decades of coaching and playing experience around the world. Most recently, he was an assistant coach with Los Angeles Valley College from 2016-2019. The Monarchs earned WSC titles in '16, '17 and '18 with O'Brien on staff, and advanced to the CCCAA State Championship game, earning a state runner-up finish in 2018.
A long-time Southern California resident, O'Brien is originally from Ireland. He came to the US to play water polo for UCLA as the first-ever and only Irish athlete to receive a scholarship and play NCAA Division I water polo. O'Brien helped the Bruins to a two Final Four appearances, a third place finish in 1990 and a runner-up finish in 1991. O'Brien was named an All-American that season, as well. He earned his bachelor's degree from UCLA in 1993.
O'Brien's playing career continued for 15 years. He was a member of the Irish National Team from 1986-2008. Additionally, he played professionally in France, New Zealand, Australia and Ireland from 1993-2004, claiming national championships in the latter three.
O'Brien has had coaching stops in New Zealand, Australia, Ireland and Southern California. His collegiate experience includes his alma mater UCLA along with Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine universities. He helped the Waves to a No. 2 national ranking in 2008 during his five years in Malibu. He directed the Irish National program from 2016-2018 and also was the owner, director and head coach for the Sharks Water Polo and Swimming Club in Los Angeles from 2005-2016. He was a compliance intern at Azusa Pacific University in 2019 while he was earning his master's degree.
O'Brien has also had coaching stops at Santa Monica College as well as Westlake, Santa Monica, Harvard-Westlake and Milken high schools.