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Meet Cuesta Aquatics Program Head Coach John Marsh

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Cuesta Aquatics Program Head Coach John Marsh. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Shinkawa’s Facebook page

Cuesta College’s aquatics program has a long-term head coach that has been on the deck for 18 years: John Marsh.

Marsh has been coaching the Cuesta Aquatics program since 2003. He started his aquatic career at Santa Maria High School before transferring to Righetti High School, where he graduated in 1980. 

Marsh wanted to go to Cuesta College to continue his water polo career since it was a cheap option for schooling. While attending Cuesta, John met his wife, Debbie, who played on the school’s volleyball team.

Marsh was a standout on the Cuesta College water polo team and attracted attention from UCLA. March transferred there in 1982, where he played on the Bruins’ water polo, basketball, and swim teams. 

Marsh graduated with a bachelor’s degree in material science and a minor in chemistry. He went on to be a three-time NCAA All-American in water polo and earned a spot on the United States men’s national water polo team.

After graduating from UCLA, Marsh moved back to San Luis Obispo and earned a master’s degree in kinesiology from Cal Poly. After completing his master’s degree, Marsh started his current position as a health and CPR professor, and Cuesta Aquatics Program head coach. During his time at Cuesta College, Marsh has won 13 CCCAA conference titles in 18 years of coaching water polo.

Marsh settled in SLO, where he raised his two kids, Eric and Megan. Both children participated in the Cuesta College water polo program and furthered their education at the University of Pacific and UC Berkeley, respectively.

“I came back to Cuesta because I got the best of both worlds,” Marsh said. “I get to do the job that I love and be around people I love.” 

John Marsh’s history at Cuesta College, and his coaching and athletic accomplishments, have impacted many students and colleagues. Over his 20-plus years of coaching, he has inspired many athletes’ academic and athletic careers. 

One of those athletes is Josh Halopoff. Halopoff is a second-year business major at Cuesta College who has been under Marsh’s tutelage for the past two years.

“Marsh taught me to work hard in the pool but harder outside of the pool on my academics,” Halopoff said. “We are students before athletes. That’s why they call us student-athletes and Marsh has told us and helped us understand the meaning of that.”