Our Coaches and Directors - Train with the Best

Jamey Wright, Program Director

Jamey Wright serves as the head coach for DWPC and its Program Director. Coach Wright has served as the Head Coach of the UC Davis Women’s Water Polo team since its conception and in June of 2010 was inducted into the USA Water Polo Hall of Fame.

When the NCAA began sponsoring an annual National Collegiate Championship in 2001, Wright embarked on a new quest: to bring his program to prominence on that stage. In 2006, his Aggie team reached that pinnacle. With an 8-7 upset over Loyola Marymount in the Western Water Polo Association title game, UC Davis earned the conference's automatic berth in the NCAA postseason.

Wright returned his program to the national stage in 2008 with UC Davis' qualification to the NCAA Championship at Stanford. With a 10-9 win over Loyola Marymount in the conference title game, the Aggies won their last-ever Western Water Polo Association championship to capture the conference's automatic qualifier to the national tournament.

Wright now is charged with the task of guiding his program through a new era: as a member of the highly competitive Big West Conference. That league launched its inaugural season in 2009, pitting UC Davis in a tough race with UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara, Cal State Northridge, Long Beach State and Hawaii.

Wright guided the Aggies to the USWP national championship game six times, winning the title in 1984, 1988 and 1993. In 1999, the Aggies placed seventh at nationals after winning the inaugural WWPA women's title, earning Wright Coach of the Year merit.

Along with the team success, Wright has coached 65 All-Americans and has had eight players compete on the U.S. Senior National `A' Team.

Additionally, he was selected Collegiate I Coach of the Year in 1991 and served as the U.S. Senior National `B' Team Coach from 1990 to 1999, coaching teams competing in Hungary, Great Britain, Holland, Canada and Puerto Rico.

A 1980 graduate of UC Davis, Wright earned first team All-Far Western Conference honors in water polo in 1977 and 1978. He was a team captain and a 1980 All-American in swimming as well.

Jamey and his wife Nancy, who starred for the Aggies during the program's club heydays, reside in Davis with their children Michael, Hailey and Cameron. Michael and Hailey both competed for UC Davis. His youngest son, Cameron, plays for Davis Senior High School and the DWPC club team.

Tracy Stapleton

Stapleton has led the Davis High School boys water polo program for 29 seasons and is one of Northern California's most decorated water polo coaches. During his tenure at Davis Senior High School, Stapleton collected 9 of the school's 15 San Joaquin Division I CIF Section titles. In addition to coaching water polo, Stapleton is the Davis Senior High School boys and girls swim coach and last year picked up another Division I CIF Section title in Girls Swimming.

Stapleton teaches economic and civics at Davis High School. He resides in Davis with his wife Tara. His son Connor attends Stanford University and is a member of its water polo team as well as the USA National Junior Team. Stapleton's daughter Colby is a freshman at Harvard University and a member of its water polo team. She is also a member of USA Water Polo's Olympic Development Program National Team.

Kandace Waldthaler

Kandace Waldthaler was named the Jamey Wright and Hodgens Family Director of Women’s Water Polo at UC Davis in July 2022 after arriving at UCD in 2010. She spent the past 12 seasons, the first seven as an assistant coach and the last five as associate head coach. Prior to UCD, she was an assistant coach at Indiana University from 2006-2010.
Kandace first coached with the Davis Water Polo Club in the summer of 2005 when she was responsible for the 12U girls. When she returned to Davis in 2010, she began coaching the 14U girls. Over the past 12 years, she has also coached the 16U girls and, most recently, the 18U girls. Along with Doug Wright, she directs the girl’s side of DWPC. Additionally, Kandace began a masters water polo program that offers year-round practices for adults 19-87 years old.
As an athlete, Kandace earned JC All-America honors and a conference MVP award at Sierra College before beginning her two-year career at Indiana. She was an All-American in 2005 with the Hoosiers and earned American Water Polo Coaches Association All-Academic Superior accolades both her years in Bloomington. Following her collegiate career, she spent one season in Australia playing professional water polo in their National League. Kandace received her undergraduate degree in exercise science and her master's in applied sports science in 2009 from Indiana University.
In January 2011, Waldthaler was inducted into the Sierra College Athletic Hall of Fame.

Doug Wright

Doug Wright leads DWPC's high school girls' program. In addition, Wright has led the Davis Senior High School girls’ water polo program for 26 seasons and was the girls swim team coach for 12 seasons. Wright started at Davis Senior High School in 1994 as the head coach for girls swimming and took over the girls’ water polo program in 1996, the year it gained CIF recognition as a varsity sport.

During his tenure, Wright has collected 17 CIF SJS D1 water polo titles and 4 D1 CIF SJS swimming titles. Wright is in his 27th year teaching and his 18th at Davis Senior High School.

Wright started his coaching career in 1990 as coach of the boys’ high school water polo team at Menlo-Atherton High School, his alma matar. Shortly thereafter, Wright attended UC Davis where he both swam and played water polo. As a senior, Wright earned All-American status in the 200 butterfly and 200 freestyle relay, helping UC Davis capture the Pacific Collegiate Swimming Conference title and a third-place finish at the NCAA Championships. As a team captain in water polo, he was named second-team All-WWPA. Wright earned his B.A. in Art History in 1994 from UC Davis.

Wright served as Assistant Coach for UC Davis Men's and Women's Water Polo teams from 1993 to 1997. Wright also served as the Central Zone USA Water Polo Coach from 1997-1998 and USA Water Polo National Youth Team Coach from 1999-2000.

When he's not on the pool deck, Wright can often be found in the pool or on the trails running. Wright swam the English Channel in 2010 and has toed the line at many ultra-running events.

Wright's children Malaya (17) swims and plays waster polo for Davis Senior High School where she is in her senior year and Luke (13) play's water polo for DWPC as well as competes in football and basketball in Davis. Wright and his wife also have four more children Aubree (6), Landon (5), Payton (4) and Nevaeh (2) who frequent games but would rather be at home swimming.

Wright has helped direct and coach the girl's side of the Davis Water Polo Club since 1995.

Head coach Daniel Leyson 2021 head shot

Dan Leyson

Owning more than 30 years of experience at both the collegiate and international levels, Dan Leyson enters his tenth season at the Aggie helm in 2022.

Leyson, who owns a 127-66 overall record at UC Davis and a commanding 41-3 record in Western Water Polo Association play, brought an immediate impact to the Aggie program, guiding UC Davis to an undefeated Western Water Polo Association record in his first year. The 2015 squad then reached new heights: the program's best win-loss percentage (.692) since 2007 and the highest national ranking during the regular season (No. 9) since 2011.

For his achievements, Leyson was awarded the Monte Nitzkowski Distinguished Men's Coaching Award by USA Water Polo and served as the head coach for USA NorCal in the second season of the USAWP National League.

Never one to rest on laurels, Leyson continues to raise the bar for Aggie men's water polo. In 2016, the former U.S. National Team player and coach guided UC Davis to its first Western Water Polo Association championship and NCAA postseason appearance since 1997, setting then-school records for wins (23), winning percentage (.793), goals scored (12.6 per game) and final national ranking (No. 10).

In his seven years at UC Davis, Leyson has guided the Aggies to six winning seasons — including the last five straight — and a top-two finish at the WWPA Tournament six times, including titles in 2016, 2017, and 2019. His last four teams have also finished among the top 10 in the final national polls.

An assistant for two years (2002-04) under legendary coach Ratko Rudic for the United States National Team for the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens, as well as appearances at the FINA World League (bronze medal), the 2003 World Championships, and the 2003 Pan American Games (gold medal), Leyson embarked on his coaching career at his alma mater where he was an assistant at USC from 2000-02, helping the Trojans to a third-place finish at the NCAA Championships in his first year.

Following that experience, Leyson moved on to the club level in 2005, serving as head coach of the Rose Bowl Water Polo Club, which tripled its membership to more than 200 members representing 70 schools during his tenure. He earned Best Coach accolades in the 2010 Ironman League while leading the 16-under boys team to the league's championship.

Leyson was named winner of the Bill Barnet Distinguished Men's Coach Award (Scholastic) from the U.S.A Water Polo Assembly in 2011. Three of his boys teams that year captured gold medals at the South Florida International competition. He also served as head coach for the California Coastal Zone for the Olympic Development Team (2006-07).

Returning to the collegiate ranks in 2011, Leyson was an assistant at UCLA for two years, helping the Bruins to a championship in the powerful Mountain Pacific Sports Federation and a pair of runner-up finishes at the NCAA Championships before joining the UC Davis program.

A four-year starter, a three-year scholar-athlete, and three-time All-American for the Trojans as a player — including first-team honors in 1992 when he helped lead USC to a third-place NCAA finish and led the tournament in scoring — Leyson played professionally overseas with Club Natacio Atletic-Barceloneta, a 1st-division Spanish team, until 1998. He also competed with the U.S. National Team for trips to Denmark, the Czech Republic, Mexico, Japan, and Canada, participated in three Olympic Festivals, and twice competed at the Maccabiah Games, winning a silver medal in 1993.

After earning his undergraduate degree in business from USC in 1992, Leyson went on to earn his master's in physical education, with an emphasis on coaching, from Ball State in 2008. He and his wife, Camille, are parents to daughter Mia and twin sons, Benjamin and Silas.

Dan has coached DWPC's 14u Girls and 10u Boys.