Tusnadi has the horses to win

The equine veterinarian takes the reins of boys water polo.

When they say the Bainbridge boys water polo team has the horses to win, the metaphor will be apt.

The club’s new coach, Zoltan Tusnadi, boasts an equine veterinary practice as well as a healthy pedigree in competitive polo.

Tusnadi (pronounced toosh-NAH-dee) was introduced last week, taking over for Mead Trick and donning the mantle of legendary coach Steve Killpack, for whom he once ran coaching clinics here.

“I saw an opportunity to turn some kids on to one of the best sports around,” Tusnadi said of the coaching position. “The teams I saw (in the past) were always in contention for state titles.

“That kind of speaks for itself, and how Steve got them to work as a unit.”

Tusnadi, 43, got his start in 1978, playing at the club level in Bellevue against more seasoned competition.

He was player/coach at Washington State University from 1981-87, and is a veteran of the 1998 Player World Masters Games and various USA nationals and Olympic festival squads, as well as the 1980 Junior Olympic Development program.

“It’s a really fun sport,” he said, “and you get your swimming in without having to stare at the black line (at the bottom of the pool).”

The job marks a return to polo for Tusnadi, who has been developing his practice in veterinary medicine with the North Kitsap-based Chinook Equine Veterinary Service.

John Anderson, president of the Bainbridge Island Water Polo Club, said the organization looked regionally for a new coach but was pleased to find a qualified candidate already in the area.

Tusnadi, he said, was familiar with the philosophy and traditions established by Killpack, who was always credited as a youth mentor as well as a coach.

“We’re really pleased by Zoltan coming aboard,” Anderson said. “(The selection committee) gave him a 10 out of 10.”

Spring polo begins with 8-9:30 a.m. practices Feb. 28-29 at Ray Williamson Pool. For information on the boys program, email; for girls, email Jeff Clark at Also, an open house is slated for 6:15 p.m. March 27 at the pool, to introduce Tusnadi to parents.

Tusnadi is looking for more athletes to build up the program, an “all-inclusive” sport from which no one is cut.

No previous water polo experience is necessary; his experience at WSU showed that even rookies can be honed into a skilled and robust unit before long.

He’s also convinced that he will have the best athletes on campus.

“Even football players aren’t tougher than water polo players,” he said.

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