USA Water Polo has announced Marcelo Leonardi '94 as the Midwest Zone recipient of the Sandy Nitta Distinguished Coaching Award.

This marks the second time in his coaching career that he has received the award. He was named a recipient of the award in 2014 in his final year at CSUN.

Leonardi is one of 11 coaches honored with one recipient for each zone throughout the United States. Each individual is eligible for the national Sandy Nitta Distinguished Coaching Award, which will be announced next month at the USA Water Polo assembly.

Now in his fifth season as Head Coach of the women's water polo team at the University of Michigan, Leonardi has amassed a record of 109-39 (.736) with three CWPA championships and three NCAA appearances. He has a conference record of 30-2 and has coached two CWPA Player of the Year honorees and six All-Americans. He has a career record of 223-103 after coaching at CSUN for five years prior to Michigan.  The Wolverines will open the 2019 season at the UCSB Tournament Jan. 19-20 in Santa Barbara, California.

Before joining the staff at Cal State Northridge, Leonardi was head coach for the El Rancho High School water polo and swim programs for six years. During his tenure, the Dons twice claimed the Del Rio League water polo titles (2003 and 2004) and played in the CIF Division III championship game in 2004. Leonardi was named the CIF Division III Coach of the Year in 2004 and also led the swimming team to the league title that same season.

Leonardi  earned a bachelor of arts in biology and Spanish from Whittier College in 1998. He added a Master's degree in education from Whittier in 2001 and a single-subject teaching credential in biology and life sciences from the institution in 2003. As a collegiate player, Leonardi was a three-year starter and letterman in water polo at Whittier (1994-96). He received his doctorate degree in educational leadership from Azusa Pacific University in 2011.