Coaches

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James E. Smith

Waterpolo Team Director

USA Water Polo named Coach James the 2015-16 Top Development Coach for its national Olympic Development Program. For eight years he was the Southwest Zone Boys’ Head Coach. He helmed the Round Rock High School girls to four TISCA West Region Championships and was Coach of the Year in 2018. Previously he coached at The Priory School and La Costa Canyon HS in California. He played at Long Beach Wilson High School and UC San Diego and earned his MBA from Georgetown University in Washington, DC. He’s the founder of Total Waterpolo, and co-host of the TXWaterpolo Podcast.

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Barbara “Babs” Lanier

Girls’ Head Coach

Barbara Lanier, is a former varsity player at the University of Michigan, one of the top ranked programs in the nation, and at Acalanes High School in Northern California. She also has significant coaching experience working with Saline High School in Michigan and Diablo Alliance Water Polo in California, where she enjoyed both polo and summer league swim coaching. She is the Head Coach for all girls’ programming and also works with age groups including Swim2Score.

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Savannah “Savvy” Ruiz

Assistant & Goalkeeping Coach

Savannah is a current waterpolo player at Texas A&M University. With over 10 years of experience as an athlete she now enters the coaching fray as AquaTex’s lead Goalkeeping Coach.

Savvy played at Jersey Village High School in Cypress, Texas and helped lead the Falcons to four consecutive high school state championship tournament appearances. She also played for CFWPC during the summers, attending Junior Olympics each year of membership. She brings that experience and enthusiasm to AquaTex where she’ll focus on our Age Group athletes.

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Max Staresinic

Head Coach

Max Staresenic was named the new Head Coach of AquaTex Waterpolo in November, 2023. He leads all training and programming and sets the competitive agenda for the team. He learned how to play water polo in Pittsburgh, enough so to be named Pennsylvania’s high school player of the year before heading off to play at UCLA. Post collegiate career he turned to coaching with Tiger Water Polo in Pennsylvania and the famous Bruin Water Polo Club in LA under UCLA Head Coach Adam Wright. He is also coaching water polo and swim at Westover Country Club in Austin.

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Sebastian Houng

Assistant & Goalie Coach

Sebastian joined us in the fall of 2023 after having coached men’s water polo at West Point from where he graduated in 2021. He’s a former goalie from Diamond Bar High School in California and moved to Austin in just the past year. He’s an active servicemeber, a US Army Lieutenant, and works as a UX designer at the Army Software Factory in Austin.

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Sasa Branisavljevic

Assistant Coach, Team Advisor

Sasa is one of the most accomplished youth water polo coaches in the United States. The Subotica, Serbia native founded Vanguard Aquatics in 2013 and since then has molded the club in to one of the most successful and recognized in the US, with 30 Junior Olympics trophies and two USA Water Polo Chairman’s Cups, awarded to the the top male water polo program in the United States.

He, his wife and family relocated from Orange County to Pflugerville in late 2023. He’ll be a key advisor to Coach Max as the club grows, and will assist in coaching all our athletes with a particular emphasis on the youngest ones.

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Kendall Katusak

Seasonal Coach

Kendall has been with AquaTex since she was 14. She played at Austin College after being named Most Valuable Player for TISCA High School Water Polo’s West Region in 2018. Her Round Rock High School team was the first ever to defeat a North Texas HS team that season. She coaches during the summer and winter seasons and is currently a graduate student at Texas Tech.

Coaches

Samantha “Sam” Smith

Swim2Score Coach

One of AquaTex’s most prolific scorers as a player Sam is currently a Texas State student where she plays for their club team. She began swimming competitively for the Hurricanes at age 5, then excelled at Westwood High School as an all-region water polo player. She is the seasonal lead water polo coach for our Swim2Score program.

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Dominique Clark

Swim2Score Coach

Joining AquaTex in 2021, Dominique formerly coached the 14u girls at Lamorinda in California. At Villanova she earned all Mid-Atlantic Athletic Conference honors in 2017 and 2018 and ended her career with 250 goals, third best in program history. She was also named to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Academic All-Area Team after posting a perfect 4.0 grade point average in 2017. A graduate of water polo-powerhouse Miramonte HS she is a Berkeley, CA native and now works in business execution training in Austin.

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Shannon Berry

Seasonal Coach

Shannon is one of AquaTex’s (formerly CenTex) earliest members. A stand-out athlete for Westwood High School in Austin she went on to become one of the area’s first ever varsity water polo athletes. In 2019 she finished her first season at Austin College where she was honored by the school with the Sig Lawson Award, given to those who show great character and work ethic. She coaches youth and high school athletes with a focus on goalkeeping.

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Matt Braun

Assistant Coach

Matt joined us in the fall of 2022 after having coached water polo and swimming in the UK. He graduated from Loyola Marymount University where he had a standout career: In 2017 he led the team with 47 goals. and earned All-WWPA Second Team honors. He graduated from Southridge High School in Oregon where he helped the team win a pair of state championships in 2013 and 2014. He is certified to coach swimming and water polo in the United Kingdom and will apply those skills to all age groups at AquaTex.

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Alon Yoeli

Assistant Coach

Alon trained with Stanford and Legacy Water Polo clubs before becoming captain and earning all-league and senior all-star honors while at Carmel High School. Awarded Monterey Bay League’s Best Shooter and Most Valuable Offensive Player in 2010, 2011. An ODP selection, he played with the U20 Italian Champions, Circolo Canotierri Napoli. He also trained with the Israeli Junior National Team and participated in the Berlin Maccabi Game in 2015. A varsity athlete at Fordham University in New York, Alon majored in Math/CS and Italian Studies and works in Pharmaceutical Software in Austin.

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Matthew Smiley

Assistant Coach

Coach Matt has been involved in aquatics since his youth in Chicago. He joins AquaTex after playing at New Trier HS and North Beach Water Polo Club, then with the University of Arizona men’s team. He assists at all levels and is AquaTex’s main goalie coach. He led the AquaTex 12U team to a Polar Bear League Winter Championship in 2019 and is an assistant for Round Rock High School. He’s a certified referee and a regular master’s athlete along with training for an Ironman. He works for an IT consulting firm and lives in Austin.