Meet Our Coaches
Ted Minnis is in his seventh year as The Friends of Harvard Water Polo Head Coach. Minnis is the 10th coach in Harvard men's and women's water polo history, and the first individual to serve in the role since the position was endowed in May 2013.
Coach Minnis recently became the winningest coach in Harvard water polo history for both the men’s and women’s programs. On the men’s side, Minnis won his program-best 100th game on the opening day of the 2016 season against then-No. 10 UC Davis. Minnis and the Crimson finished with an overall record of 27-7, pushing his total to 125 victories. He is also the all-time leader in wins for the women's water polo program with 111 total wins, surpassing Chris Hafferty’s total of 81 wins during the 2014-15 campaign.
The 2016 Harvard men’s water polo team recorded its third-straight season with 20-plus wins for the first time in school history and defeated a program record 13 ranked opponents. Harvard reached as high as No. 8 in the CWPA poll, marking its highest ranking ever. The Crimson won the first conference championship in school history, taking home the Northeast Water Polo Conference (NWPC) Championship and clinching its first-ever NCAA Championship appearance. Harvard went on to win its first NCAA tournament game with a victory over No. 12 Bucknell, before defeating No.9 UC Davis to secure a spot in the NCAA Final Four.
Minnis was selected as the 2016 USA Water Polo Zone Award Winner at the conclusion of the season for the Northeast. He helped guide Joey Colton to second-team All-America honors and Noah Harrison to All-America honorable mention. Colton, along with Dan Stevens, was named NWPC first team as well.
In 2015, Coach Minnis guided the men’s program to a 21-10 overall record and one of its most historic seasons in program history. Harvard reached as high as No. 12 in the CWPA poll, and the Crimson finished third at the CWPA Championship and advanced to the semifinals for the first time during Minnis’ tenure. Harvard downed three top-10 opponents on the season and six ranked opponents, both program firsts. Minnis was honored as the CWPA Northern Division Coach of the Year for the second time and guided several members of the Crimson to postseason accolades. Anthony Ridgley was named CWPA Northern Division Rookie of the year, Ben Zepfel and Joey Colton earned nods on the first team, while Noah Harrison, Dan Stevens and Colin Woolway were named to the second team.
The women's team enjoyed one of its most successful seasons yet in its sixth season under Minnis, finishing the year at 24-10, recording the first back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time in program history. The Crimson checked in at No. 13 in the CWPA rankings from March 23 – April 6 for its highest ranking ever, while also marking a program first with nine wins against top-25 teams this season. The Crimson defeated the No. 13 ranked opponent twice, downing its highest ranked opponent in program history. Yoshi Andersen and Cleo Harrington earned CWPA Division I/II first team all-conference honors, while Melissa Balding was tabbed to the second team.
The women's program was strong in his fifth season going 20-13, the most wins since 2004. For the team’s performance throughout the 2015 season, coach Minnis was named the CWPA Division I/II Coach of the Year, the first such honor obtained by a Harvard women's water polo coach. The 20 wins put Minnis atop the all-time wins list at 87 wins in just five seasons. The Crimson also had four players earn All-CWPA Division I/II honors, including Yoshi Andersen earning a first team nod.
Coach Minnis also led the men’s program to a 22-10 overall record, its best finish under his tenure and the most wins since 2000. For the first time, Harvard went undefeated on its annual California road trip, going 5-0 including an upset victory over then-No. 16 Whittier. The Crimson finished second at the CWPA Northern Division Championship for the second consecutive season, after upsetting then-No. 17 St. Francis and narrowly falling to, the eventual Northern and Eastern champions, Brown in the championship game. Harvard’s strong season earned them numerous accolades. Sophomore Joey Colton was named the CWPA Northern Player of the Year and freshman Colin Chiapello was named the CWPA Northern Rookie of the Year, junior Ben Zepfel was named to the CWPA All-Northern first team for the second consecutive season, while sophomore Blake Lee and junior Collin Woolway were named to the CWPA All-Northern second team.
In his fourth season at the helm, both programs continued to grow crossing the double-digit wins mark for a fourth consecutive season. The men finished the season 18-14 and took second place at the CWPA Northern Championship. Coach Minnis was named 2013 CWPA Coach of the Year along with three players earning All-CWPA Northern Division honors, led by Ben Zepfel being named to the first team. The women's side earned 15 wins in its fourth season under coach Minnis and took fourth place at the CWPA Northern Championships. Melissa Balding was named the 2014 Rookie of the Year, becoming the first ever women's player to earn that honor. She was joined by Yoshi Andersen who earn first team honors and Shayna Price who was named to the season team.
In 2012-13, Minnis directed both programs to double-digit wins and berths in the CWPA Eastern Championships. The men’s team finished fourth at the CWPA Northern Division Championships, its highest finish since 2007, on its way to a seventh-place finish at Easterns. The men’s team also performed well out of the pool, as 13 Crimson were named CWPA Student-Athletes for the second consecutive season.
The 2013 season saw Minnis direct the women’s program to its longest win streak, eight games, since water polo became an NCAA sport in 2001. Harvard ended the year 18-16 to give itself three consecutive winning seasons for the first time since 2000-02. The squad also went on to place sixth at the Eastern Championships, tied for the fifth-best finish in program history. Aisha Price ’13 (first team), Ariel Dukes ’15 (second team) and Yoshi Andersen ’16 (second team) were all named to the CWPA All-Southern Division team.
On the women’s side, Harvard completed its second straight winning season (17-12) in 2012 and won four out of five regular season Southern Division contests. The squad, which finished in seventh place at the CWPA Eastern Championships, had one of the biggest wins in recent years, as it took down No. 20 Hartwick, 12-11, on Senior Night. Six Crimson players won a combined 10 Player of the Week awards while Devan Kennifer ’12 (first team) and Elise Molnar ’13 (second team) were named All-Southern Division.
In his first season as a collegiate head coach and first year in charge of the Crimson, Minnis showed immediate success. The men's squad won its most games (12) in three seasons and matched its CWPA Northern Division Championship finish (fifth) from the previous year. The men's team also finished third at the Ivy Championships and boasted 13 CWPA Scholar-Athletes and ACWPC All-Academic award winners.
The women's team was also instantly successful during Minnis' first season. The Crimson women logged 17 victories, its most wins in six years, and its first above .500 record since 2005. The team had two CWPA Southern Division All-Conference players in Devan Kennifer ’12 and Monica Zdrojewski ’12 and had five different players earn CWPA Southern Division Player of the Week, Defensive Player of the Week or Rookie of the Week honors during the season.
Minnis, who has competed and coached at the youth, club and high school level, came to Cambridge after serving as the interim director of athletics, aquatics director and head water polo and swim coach as Castilleja School in Palo Alto, Calif.
Minnis is a veteran coach at the Stanford Club. During his 10-plus years of service, he won two Junior Olympic bronze medals, a U.S. Club Championship and finished among the top 10 at various national tournaments numerous times. Minnis served as the head coach for the Olympic Development Program Pacific Zone for three years and in 2009 worked with the National Youth team staff. Most recently, his teams picked up a pair of silver medals at the 16 and Under Olympic Development Regional Championship and Zone Championship.
In 2007, Minnis was named the USA Water Polo Development Coach of the Year and in 2005 and 2007 was a Positive Coaching Alliance finalist for coach of the year.
Cassie Churnside joined Harvard's men's and women's water polo coaching staff in June 2014. Churnside came to Cambridge from the SET Water Polo Club in Irvine, Calif., where she was the head coach of SET 16U and the assistant coach of SET 18U.
Churnside helped guide the men’s program to the most successful season in Harvard history in 2016. For the third consecutive season under Churnside, the men’s team won 20-plus games to finish with a 27-7 record, marking the first time that a Harvard water polo program has achieved that feat. The Crimson defeated a program-record 13 ranked opponents and was ranked as high as No. 8 in the CWPA poll. Harvard won the first conference championship in school history, taking home the Northeast Water Polo Conference (NWPC) Championship and clinching the first-ever NCAA Championship berth in school history. Churnside and the Crimson went on to win two NCAA tournament games with victories over No. 12 Bucknell and No. 9 UC Davis to earn a spot in the NCAA Final Four.
The women's team enjoyed one of its most successful seasons in program history in Churnside's second season, finishing the year at 24-10 and recording the first back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time in program history. The Crimson checked in at No. 13 in the CWPA rankings from March 23 – April 6 for its highest ranking ever, while also marking a program first with nine wins against top-25 teams this season.
In her second season with the men’s program, Churnside was instrumental in helping Harvard to a 21-10 record and one the most memorable seasons in program history. Churnside helped Harvard to numerous firsts on the season as it reached No. 12 in the CWPA poll, defeated three top-10 opponents, downed six ranked opponents and tied the best finish in program history with a third-place showing at the CWPA Championship.
In her first season with the men’s program, coach Churnside helped lead the team to a 22-10 record, the most wins since 2000. Under her leadership, the Crimson boasted the CWPA Northern Player of the Year, Northern Rookie of the Year, two All-Northern first team selections and two All-Northern second team selections.
The women's program also saw a banner year in her first season. The team finished 20-13, the most wins since 2004, and saw four players earn All-CWPA Division I/II postseason honors.
Churnside, an Orange, Calif., native, helped to lead the Stanford Cardinal to the 2011 and 2012 national titles. Aside from her national success in the pool, Churnside has a wealth of coaching experience.
Before taking over at SET, Churnside was an assistant coach at Laguna Beach Unified School District. During her tenure, her teams won the Division I CIF championship, Orange Coast League championship and the Triple Crown Tournament championship. During her four years as a student-athlete in Palo Alto, Churnside also worked as a camp counselor and coach for the Cardinal.
Churnside graduated from Stanford in 2012 with a bachelor of arts in communication.