When Angel Hernandez, a 19-year-old undeclared sophomore, left the Roosevelt High School water polo team in 2008, he vowed to one day take away his coach’s job.
“I hate that guy,” Hernandez said. “I dislike him with like, a passion.”
Now as a Boyle Heights Variety Boys & Girls Club water polo coach, Hernandez pushes his students to do their best, while cautioning them to avoid joining the Roosevelt High School water polo team.
“My kids could beat his kids,” Hernandez added.
The rivalry started when Hernandez was captain of the Roosevelt High School water polo team. Even though Hernandez said the team probably couldn’t have won without him, the coach did not afford him the Most Valuable Player award.
“I missed one meet and he said I don’t deserve it anymore,” Hernandez said.
When Hernandez tried to help the Roosevelt High School swim team go to a city meet, the coach refused to let him go. This, Hernandez said, made him very angry.
“He’s never played water polo in his life,” Hernandez said. “How are you going to teach something (when) you never played?”
As a coach, Hernandez claims to be very aggressive, and he pushes his kids to do more. He says that he is leaning toward majoring in Kinesiology, so that he can one day help students work out and play water polo.
“Teachers don’t really make that much, but I don’t really care,” Hernandez added.
Along with this, Hernandez also wants to be a P.E. teacher because he said it is an easy-going job.
“I was a big-time work out fanatic in high school, and I just think it would be fun,” Hernandez added.
One of Hernandez’s students is a 9-year-old boy he affectionately nicknamed “Fluffy”. The reason he gave Fluffy his nickname, Hernandez said, was because he is a little bit chubby and he looks like he is 12 years old. Originally, Fluffy was reluctant to be on the water polo team but Hernandez said that he pushed him to join.
“I told him if he keeps swimming, I would take him to Jack In the Box,” Hernandez said. “I just like this kid, so I’ll take him out either way.”
In the Summer of 2009 Hernandez started managing his own pool by helping kids ages 7-17 swim. Recently, Hernandez hosted his own swim meet at the Boys & Girls Club, where his team played against five other teams from East Los Angeles. Out of a possible 66 medals Hernandez’s team won 44.
“All my kids that swim for me are really fast,” Hernandez said.
Born and raised in Boyle Heights, Hernandez has been part of the Variety Boys & Girls Club since he was a small child. His brother, who is second in command of the water polo team, and cousin, who is third in command, helped him attain the position as coach.
Now as a college student, Hernandez is not considering joining the CSUN swim team.
“I’m good, but I’m not that good,” Hernandez said.
Instead, Hernandez enjoys the company of his roommates, while thinking of his pending decision about a major.
When asked about the inclement, wet weather going on outside, Hernandez said he does not mind the rain.
“I don’t like the rain,” Hernandez added. “But, I like swimming in the rain.”