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First and Foremost an Educator

Lou Tully (Karl Nielsen photo)

Lou Tully (Karl Nielsen photo)

Women’s water polo Head Coach Lou Tully, BA ’67, MA ’73 Physical Education, passed away Dec. 17 at the age of 70. He was undergoing treatment for cancer, which he had beaten once before and expected to beat again. Coach Tully was looking forward to his 18th season with San Jose State.

Tributes to his life and legacy are pouring in from across the country,” President Mohammad Qayoumi said. “My heart goes out to all of his players and colleagues, especially those who were looking forward to his return in a few short weeks.”

Lou Tully was first and foremost an educator. He took deep pride in his degrees and teaching credential from San Jose State, encouraging his players to not only excel in class but to compete at the highest levels in athletics. In 1997, his first year as head coach, he took women’s water polo from a club sport to the top 25 nationally. His teams ranked in the top 10 for 12 years, with the 2001 and 2011 teams finishing fifth nationally.

His players understood that he was teaching them far more than how to win in a sport that he described as a combination of ice hockey, basketball, swimming and soccer. In a 2010 Washington Square alumni magazine feature, then co-captain and two-time All-American Adriana Vogt summarized his legacy by saying “what he teaches us as a coach are lessons I’m probably going to keep for the rest of my life.”

A Vietnam veteran, Lou Tully first came to SJSU in 1962 to play on the men’s water polo team. He began his coaching career in 1966 at Menlo Junior College, where he worked with both the water polo and swimming teams. He went on to coach other community college and high school teams, taking Mount Pleasant High School and Leland High School to league championships.

Coach Tully gave generously of his time and talent well beyond the campuses served. He founded San Jose Splash, a club team for junior women’s water polo players, and officiated at just about every level up to the U.S. Senior Men’s and Women’s National Championships.

Services are pending. He is survived by his wife Susan, daughter Megan, son Ian, daughter-in-law Caroline and grandson Chase.