Prior to his arrival at Foothill, Coach Bissell contributed to the formation of both
the men’s and women’s club water polo programs at California State University,
Chico. He coached the men’s team from 1996-2001 and the women’s from 1998-2001.
Coach Bissell, 32, is also the women’s and men’s head swim coach at Foothill. The 2006-07 season will mark his second year as the head coach; he worked as an assistant coach for five seasons before taking over the program in 2005-06.
A Southern California native, Coach Bissell graduated in 1992 from Agoura High School in Agoura Hills. During his junior and senior seasons, he was an All-Miramonte League First Team selection as well as an All-CIF Southern Section selection. A 2-meter player, he was his team’s captain during his senior year.
A long-distance swimmer as well, Coach Bissell swam both the 200- and 500-yard freestyle events in high school qualifying for the CIF Southern Section championships in both events.
Coach Bissell continued his career in water polo at the community college level, playing two years at Los Angeles Valley College in Van Nuys. Splitting time as both a 2-meter player and a driver, he received All-America honors as a sophomore. He was also named First Team All-Western State Conference. He continued to swim both the 200- and 500-yard freestyle at Los Angeles Valley.
Coach Bissell transferred to Cal State University, Chico and graduated in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in exercise physiology. He earned a master’s degree in sports psychology in 2001.
Upon his arrival in Chico, he helped start a club program in men’s water polo at the university. He was both a player and a coach for two years. After his eligibility was up, he remained with the program as head coach until he completed his education. He also coached the women’s team, which launched in 1998.
Coach Bissell was hired as a part-time coach at Foothill in 2001, but recently was promoted to a full-time position. In 2004, Coach Bissell was named the Northern California Coach of the Year after leading Foothill to a Coast Conference championship and the finals of the Northern California championship tournament, where the Owls lost to Sierra College, 6-4. The runner-up finish qualified Foothill for the COA state championship tournament, where the Owls placed fifth out of six teams.
During Coach Bissell’s tenure, Foothill has reached the postseason four of the five past years. Three of those years, the Owls also advanced to the state tournament.
Although Coach Bissell believes in preparing his team to be as competitive as possible, it is not the No. 1 goal of his program.
“It is important for Foothill to compete and do so with good sportsmanship, but more importantly, it is to help players coming in at the age of 18 or 19 to learn how to become responsible adults,” he says. “My main goal is to move these players on to a four-year university to get their bachelor’s degree whether they play water polo or not.”
Coach Bissell and his wife Natasha, a recreation supervisor, live in Campbell.