Generations of the Rowland family have grown up on the pool deck for decades, ultimately leading Rick Rowland Jr., head coach of the men’s and women’s swim teams, and Rick Rowland Sr., assistant coach, to California Baptist University together.
Rowland Sr. has spent his life coaching teams into excellence, previously coaching at Pepperdine University for 11 years and currently spending his 11th year at CBU.
“I was a coach from the beginning,” Rowland Sr. said. “I was a swimmer, water polo player and I was on the tennis team. My father was a swim coach, too.”
Before the two came together at CBU, Rowland Jr. coached club and high school teams for about 10 years. He was also his father’s graduate assistant at Pepperdine.
“I swam and played water polo for him at Pepperdine, then stayed as his assistant for three years,” Rowland Jr. said.
The Rowlands ran swim and water polo camps as a family together since Rowland Jr. was in high school.
“When I was younger I was very shy and the only thing I wasn’t shy about was talking about swimming and water polo,” Rowland Jr. said. “When I started working in my dad’s camps, that’s when I was more outgoing. I knew I could lead kids because they understood me.”
When Rowland Jr. came to CBU 16 seasons ago from Santa Margarita High School, he started the swim and water polo teams from scratch, just as his father did at Pepperdine. He watched CBU go from 1,000 students to 8,000 in 17 years. To balance each other out, Rowland Jr. started coaching and Rowland Sr. recruited athletes.
“I coached all four teams here so I had no time to recruit because I was on the deck eight hours a day,” Rowland Jr said. “My dad is a really good recruiter so I would forward him all the recruit emails and he would set up all the visits. He picks up in areas where I am weak. I was limited in the amount of time I could recruit and that was a talent for him.”
Together, they won the first NAIA championship title for the women’s team in 2005 and double titles the next three years in a row.
“He pretty much mentored me and got me here,” Rowland Jr. said.
Rowland’s children are now following his footsteps and have played and coached swim and water polo teams as well. Today, the Rowland duo continues to lead the men’s and women’s swim teams, to Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference championships and NCAA DII titles.