NORWALK — Many personalities in life have multiple layers to them.
If you peel back those layers of longtime Cerritos College women's water polo and swimming coach Sergio Macias, each one has a story.
There are layers of success in high school, college, coaching and officiating for Macias.
"I love the sport, any day or chance," said Macias, who started playing water polo at the age of eight or nine years old. "I love to be near water polo."
His current layer is 15 years (water polo) in the making with a multitude of success at Cerritos.
In only his fourth year as the Falcons coach, Macias guided them to the program's first California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) State Championship in 2008.
They finished with an amazing 31-3 record in that championship year, which is the best in program history, and over a four-year period (2006-09), amassed a 114-15 record.
They are a 10-time CCCAA So Cal Regional qualifier and a five-time South Coast Conference Champion.
"I think Sergio's ability to create a game plan against each opponent is a true testament to how much of a student of the game he is," said John Van Gaston, the longtime Cerritos College Sports Information Director. "It's probably why he's done so well as an official (another layer of Macias). He's able to break down the game and play so well. The college is fortunate to have Sergio on staff and I'm sure he has another state championship in his future."
A big part of that success came with some help from four-time Olympic Water Polo legend Brenda Villa.
"She was a great family friend from a young age and I always kept in contact through her Olympic years," Macias said. "Brenda was very helpful to me to be part of my staff, where she was able to mentor players and help our team become better. As a result, we were able to win a state championship in that year, in 2008."
Van Gaston has often said of Macias, "I always have to remind him that the only time he won the state championship was when he had the greatest women's water polo player ever (Brenda Villa) as his assistant."
Villa, who is very modest, got a chuckle out of that, but enjoyed her time assisting Macias in between her four Olympic appearances.
"He is such a perfect fit at Cerritos," said Villa, who is the most decorated athlete in the world of women's water polo. Villa helped lead the USA Olympic Team to two silvers, a bronze and a gold medal from 2000-2012.
"The thing that is great about him, there is mutual respect," Villa added. "Even now we talk. He would always ask me for advice.
"When he applied at Cerritos, he got it. It's been great and kind of like a dream."
Villa is currently a board member of USA Water Polo as an athlete representative, the sport's national governing body. She now coaches at the high school level at Castilleja School in Palo Alto, near Stanford University, where she played collegiately.
The 2008 CCCAA State Water Polo MVP, Stephanie Rosero, remembers the first time both Macias and Villa got in the water with the team.
"The first time when Brenda and Sergio got in the water together, they were a riot," said Rosero, who went on to the University of La Verne and was named to the All-SCIAC team. "They were so good together and helped the Cerritos family.
"Everything just came together. Personally, I just loved them as coaches. We were just lucky. Honestly, it's so amazing the team was progressing through the season."
Ten players through the years received All-Southern California recognition. Additionally, Macias was named the conference's Coach of the Year in 2012, as well as in 2006, '08, '09, '11 and '12. During his tenure as the Falcons water polo coach, Macias has led his teams to a 276-119 (.699) career record.
Successful swim program
As the swim coach (14 years), Macias has seen all of the previous records broken since he took over.
"Coach Sergio was an amazing coach," said Janel Lopez, who broke nine Cerritos records in her two years and was named SCC "Swimmer of the Year" both years. "He cared so much for his athletes, in and out of the pool area. He made sure we were always on the right track and always motivated us to do better than what we thought. Whether we made individual or team goals; he made it his goal to make it happen.
"Swimming for (coach Macias) was one of the best decisions ever. It made me love the sport more and also made me try a new sport (water polo).
"I met some life-long friends at Cerritos College, including coach Sergio. I'm forever grateful for my time as a student-athlete at Cerritos College."
Lopez is currently the assistant men's and women's swimming coach at Biola University.
"She is a stud," Macias said.
He even received the "Most Outstanding Faculty of the Year" honor for Cerritos in 2009-10.
"What Sergio has able to do from the minute he stepped on campus (Cerritos College) is pretty amazing," Van Gaston added. "His water polo team won 20 games for the first time in school history in his first season. There have been a lot of 'firsts' for both the women's water polo and swimming teams since he was hired.
He's just one of those types of coaches who get the most out of his players."
Van Gaston continued: "Sergio has also gotten the most out of his swimmers, who start off thinking they're just staying in shape during the water polo off-season. But, by the end of each season, he usually has several All-Americans."
His next layer was his youth, beginning at an early age at Commerce Aquatics and playing and winning at Bell Gardens High School, with four consecutive league championships and back-to-back CIF Championships ('95-'96). He was also named CIF MVP and still holds the all-time career scoring record (706 goals).
On his high school team, two girls helped with the championships, one of which was Villa.
"Winning a championship was a big deal in the community," said Villa, who would become the first girl to start in a CIF title game in 1997, a year after she was on the '96 championship team with Macias. "Playing with my brother and Sergio, it was so nice to be accepted as a player."
Macias' next layer would be college and he continued his success at Whittier College and would become the SCIAC Player of the Year and earn four consecutive SCIAC 1st Team Awards.
In addition, he still holds the career record for goals with 417.
Macias is also in the Whittier College Hall of Fame. He graduated from Whittier College in 2001 with a Bachelor's degree in Physical Education and Recreation and earned his Master of Science degree in Kinesiology at California State University, Los Angeles in 2005.
Enter the next layer – coaching.
Montebello would be his first stop and turned around both the girls and boys programs, culminating with back-to-back CIF boys' titles in 2003-'04. He was also named CIF Coach of the Year in those two years.
And now, the last layer that Macias has entered, the world of water polo officiating.
Wait a minute, you ask. One can't be a head coach and an official.
Macias coaches in the CCCAA and is an official outside of his colleges' governing organization.
He has officiated club, high school, NCAA, USA Water Polo, International Tournaments and will begin officiating in the Mountain Pacific Sports federation (MPSF) soon, which includes USC, UCLA, Stanford, Cal, Arizona St, Indiana and San Jose St.