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He's qualified because: Led second-seeded Cougars to their first Central Section Division I championship with 3-2 upset of top-seeded Clovis West. Cougars had lost three previous games to Golden Eagles before finally breaking through in section final. Clovis went 24-8, finishing second in Tri-River Athletic Conference and 11th at prestigious Northern California Championships.
Getting started: Minton was goalie on Buchanan's 1999 section championship squad, playing for Scott Schiller, who now coaches Bears' girls team. "That whole experience in water polo led me to want to become a teacher and coach someday," said Minton, who was 24 when he took over as Clovis' girls coach.
Slow climb: Cougars, who never had advanced past section semifinals before Minton's arrival, won fewer than 50% of their games in his first season as coach. Clovis reached its first section final last season.
Conquering the champion: Clovis West has been dominant force in section, winning 10 titles since girls water polo was launched in 1995, including past two titles. Golden Eagles had upper hand on Clovis early this season, winning 6-3 at the Clovis West Shootout and 7-3 in their first TRAC meeting. Cougars closed gap in 7-6 loss in second round of TRAC play. Big key in Clovis' gradual improvement was use of video and breaking down game tapes the way football coaches do. "The players are in the water, so they don't see what I see on the pool deck," Minton said. "So when they see the video clips, the good things and the mistakes they make, it helps them become better players."
Mentor's take: "He's stabilized that program. They had really been up and down with the girls. He's done a phenomenal job." – Buchanan coach Scott Schiller
He said it: "The players have bought into the program a little more every year and they are believing they can be successful and play well. They don't have to be scared. It takes a while to build that up. But if you keep giving kids the opportunity to play water polo, they will keep improving and doing well." – Minton