SHERMAN, Texas – After announcing the addition of men's and women's water polo as a varsity sport beginning in 2018-19, Austin College has found its head coach in Mark Lawrence. Lawrence comes to Austin College after most recently having served as an assistant coach at the United States Naval Academy.
"After a national search that yielded many exceptional candidates, we are proud to welcome Mark to the Austin College family," said Austin College athletics director David Norman. "Mark's experience both as a player and coach make him an ideal individual to lead our men's and women's water polo programs. His knowledge and background in the sport are second to none, and we are thrilled to have him at the helm of our two newest Kangaroo athletics programs."
Lawrence joined the Naval Academy coaching staff in 2014, and helped guide the Midshipmen to 42 victories in his three years with the program. Prior to his time with Navy, Lawrence worked as an assistant coach at Brown University, working with both the men's and women's water polo programs. While at Brown, he worked as the program's recruiting coordinator and helped coach two players to Collegiate Water Polo Association North Division First Team honors.
"I am extremely excited to be joining the Austin College athletics staff," said Lawrence. "It's a privilege to be able to represent such a great academic institution. Austin College provides such an exciting opportunity, being a brand new program and the only collegiate varsity program in the state of Texas for men and women. One of the elements that attracted me to Austin College is the high level of youth water polo in the state of Texas, and the unlimited potential that this region has. I look forward to representing Austin College and creating an outstanding scholar-athlete experience for the future athletes in our program."
From 2011-2012, Lawrence served as the head water polo coach at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, guiding the team to 21 wins in his two seasons and four CWPA postseason contests. Five of his players were CWPA North Division honorees during his time at MIT. He also served as a graduate assistant for the Arizona State University women's team in 2009, and served as the assistant head coach for the Kazakhstan Women's National Team in 2011, where he helped take the team to the FINA World Championships.
Lawrence played collegiate water polo at Queens College, with his team reaching the 2002 NCAA Final Four, before earning a degree from San Francisco State University in 2005. He continued his playing career in 2005 when he competed with the Queensland Breakers Water Polo Club in Brisbane, Australia.
In addition to working as an assistant coach for Navy since 2014, over that same time Lawrence has also worked as the head coach for the United States Water Polo Association Olympic Development Program's Northeast Zone. There, he worked with young players from throughout New England, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
Lawrence also served as the head coach at Washington High School in Fremont, California, from 2009-2011, in addition to serving as the head coach and club director for Ohlone College and the Renegade Youth Water Polo Club over that same span. In 2014, he was named the USA Water Polo ODP East/West National Championships Youth Division "Top Coach" and in 2016, earned the USA Water Polo Bill Barnett Distinguished Coaching Award.
Austin College's men's and women's water polo teams will compete at the club level in 2017-18 before becoming a varsity sport the following season.