April 27, 2011
By Danny Mattie
Athletic Media Relations
FORT COLLINS, Colo. --John Mattos, the longest tenured coach in the CSU Department of Athletics, told his team this week that he will retire after 31 seasons as the head coach of the Rams’ swimming and diving program. Mattos also spent the last six years as the head coach of CSU’s water polo program since its inception in 2005.
“Words cannot describe the emotions I’m dealing with right now,” Mattos said. “To leave a position that has been your passion for the past 31 years is beyond difficult. Eight generations of coaching young college students have left an indelible mark on me. Preparing them for competition and life has been an honor and an experience that I’ll cherish forever. For me, it will always be and it has always been a great day to be a Ram! Thank you, CSU.”
Mattos’ retirement will be official July 1, at the end of the 2010-11 academic year. In the meantime, CSU will immediately open a national search to find the new head of the Rams’ varsity aquatics programs, the first swimming coach the Rams will have hired in more than three decades.
“Coach Mattos has meant a great deal to CSU Athletics, to our swim program and to the young ladies he’s coached and mentored,” said Athletic Director Paul Kowalczyk. “As successful as his teams have been over the years, that has been his most significant gift – the positive influence he’s been on his student-athletes, his ability to get the most out of them athletically while preparing them academically, socially and emotionally for their lives and careers upon graduating from CSU.
“John is and will always be a Ram through and through. He’s been an outstanding representative of Colorado State University and we will dearly miss his passion, professionalism and talent.”
Mattos, the 2009 Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year, earned national and international recognition as one of the finest swimming and diving coaches in the world during his tenure at Colorado State. He was named the NCAA Division I Coach of the Year in 1994 after leading CSU to a 12th-place finish at the NCAA Division I championships, one of eight nationally ranked finishes under his guidance.
Mattos’ student-athletes also set 118 school records. He coached 13 All-Americans, nine honorable-mention All-Americans and eight academic All-Americans, while taking 66 student-athletes to the NCAA championships, including Olympian Amy Van Dyken.
His Rams also have accumulated 25 individual championships.
In 1996, he had the opportunity to watch as Van Dyken became the first female swimmer in history to win four gold medals in a single Olympics. Van Dyken returned to Fort Collins to train under Mattos and he was her personal coach for the 2000 summer games, where he was poolside when she returned to the medal stand.
He was an assistant coach for the U.S. world championship team that competed in Rome in 1994, and two years later he was the head coach of the National Junior Elite Training Camp team for Olympic development. In 2004 Mattos was selected to the short course U.S. world championship coaching staff.
He amassed a career dual-meet record of 221-103 with the Rams – more wins than any other coach in program history. He guided the Rams’ swimming and diving program to 24 individual conference titles, two regional titles and six conference championships.
Key in getting the CSU water polo program off the ground, he has patiently stewarded a team now on the cusp of earning consistent national rankings, a squad that just earned its highest-ever seed for the conference tournament, fourth.
A 2005 inductee into the CSU Athletics Hall of Fame, Mattos starred for the Rams as a student-athlete before earning his degree from the university in 1971. He was a standout performer for the Rams’ swimming program in both the 100- and 200-meter backstroke, garnering conference championships and All-America finalist finishes in both events in 1969 and 1970, and establishing a school-record in the 100 backstroke (52.72 seconds) that still stands.
Mattos has a 17-year-old daughter, Marissa, who will graduate from Fossil Ridge High School next month, and plans to attend her favorite college, CSU, in the fall.
He and his very supportive wife of 39 years, Connie, have lived in Fort Collins permanently since 1975.