Back to Bishop’s: Former water polo player Georgia Gilmore returns as assistant coach

Bishop's School alumna Georgia Gilmore is now an assistant water polo coach at the school.
Bishop’s School alumna Georgia Gilmore is now an assistant water polo coach at the school.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

“My experience here shaped me as a person and as an athlete,” Bishop’s School alumna Georgia Gilmore says of her time on the school’s water polo team in La Jolla from 2014 to 2017.

And after five years away playing college water polo and exploring other interests, Gilmore is back with the Knights as a seasonal assistant coach.

“This sport helps mold you into a competitor, a good teammate and someone that values working hard,” she said. “That was always the standard — to work hard and earn every accolade and congratulations that we get. It was instilled in us then and I see it is instilled in them now.”

The Knights won CIF championships during all four of Gilmore’s years on varsity, culminating in the team’s seventh straight CIF title in her senior year. During her time at UC Berkeley, she played in two NCAA water polo tournaments and competed with would-be Olympians.

She did it with the confidence she built playing at Bishop’s — a trait she hopes to impart on the current team.

“I owe a lot to this program, so to come full circle and contribute and give back to the program that gave me so much really means a lot to me,” she said. “I hope to make an impact the way that my coaching staff made an impact on me.”

“I want my thumbprint on this team to be confidence,” Gilmore added. “It can be hard to be truly confident in who you are as a human being and as an athlete. I want these young women to go out into the world believing that they can do whatever they want to, just like I want them to believe they can do anything they want in the pool. … Any skill they want to have in their toolbox, I want them to believe that they can grab it and be great at it and use it to their advantage.”

To help them get there, Gilmore works with the centers every day because that’s the position she played. Though center typically is played by taller athletes, Gilmore, who is 5-foot-4, said she learned to be adaptive and bring a unique playing style to the position.

“I generally am a different kind of center in that I’m smaller than most, so I work quickly and with intelligence to get in position,” she said. “I had to adapt, so I’m bringing that nuance and different styles. I’m working with them to be strong and be quick and crafty as well. I want our centers to be versatile in that way, and I want everyone to be able to be a center. ... I feel like they have learned a lot [so far]. I’m so grateful that the coaches are letting me have that say.”

Kate Weatherup, 18, is a center for the Knights this season and said it has been “super fun” having Gilmore helping the team.

“She always gets in the water with me and shows me all her tricks, so we have a lot of fun in our center cage,” Weatherup said. “I’ve gained a lot of confidence in my playing style, and she has taught me a lot of new shots that I didn’t know how to do before, which has helped my game. It’s been great for the team to have a female presence, too, especially when we hang out after practice. ... It’s been great to have someone to talk to that understands what it’s like here.”

The Knights are 9-5 overall so far this season. They next play at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17, at Clairemont.

“I want my thumbprint on this team to be confidence. ... I want these young women to go out into the world believing that they can do whatever they want to.”

— Georgia Gilmore

Gilmore said she also wants to emphasize the importance of hard work.

“More than a plaque on the wall, I want them to be strong and confident women when they go out into the world … that know they can achieve whatever goal they want because they know that if they work hard and give their full attention and effort to something, they will be able to do it,” she said. “I want to remind them that it is going to be hard, but when they see the proof in the pudding, it’s going to be worth it. When we see the proof [with a win], it’s easier to put in the work and grind the way we need to grind.”

Reflecting on her own playing years, Gilmore said she was pushed to work hard but also embraced some superstitions, such as never going in the hot tub at La Jolla High School, not saying certain words and never saying they were going to win CIF.

“We said we were going to do our best, but we never said we’re going to win,” she said with a laugh.

Thus, rather than give an opinion as to whether this year’s team will make it to the CIF championship, she said its strengths are resilience and camaraderie. “They always find a way to smile and keep on keeping on,” Gilmore said. “They push each other and themselves. They know each other and care about what their teammates need.”

She said they will need to work on “creativity and playing more freely.”

“That creativity will come naturally with time and comfort in the system,” she said. “I think we are going to be in an amazing spot and improve so much when we’re more creative.” ◆