Athletics News

USA Water Polo Hall of Famer Bill Anttila Passes Away


Huntington Beach, CA - February 17 - USA Water Polo Hall of Famer William "Bill" Anttila passed away earlier this month. A fixture of the Northern California water polo scene specifcially in the Stockton area Anttila was inducted into the USA Water Polo Hall of Fame in 2003. Below is an article from The Stockton Record.

By Jason Anderson

Bill Anttila was always on time. He demanded punctuality from his students, swimmers and water polo players, too, so those who knew him best knew something was wrong when he didn't make it to their monthly luncheon in January.

Anttila, best known for coaching water polo at Stockton College, Delta College and College of the Pacific, died Wednesday at his home in Stockton. He was 91.

"He looked very peaceful, and he was still good looking," said Sisko Anttila, Bill Anttila's wife of 61 years.

There will be no funeral services, Sisko Anttila said.

Bill Anttila graduated from Springfield College in Massachusetts and moved to Stockton in 1946 after serving as a Navy pilot in World War II. He helped bring water polo to Northern California and won 759 of the 1,099 matches he coached over 38 years at Pacific, Stockton College and Delta College, producing dozens of All-American players.

Anttila is a member of the Springfield College, Pacific athletics, Stockton athletics and U.S. Water Polo halls of fame.

He continued to swim until he was 86 despite suffering from diabetes and debilitating back pain. He had a mild stroke in January, lost his eyesight and was left bedridden.

Anttila is survived by his wife, three children, three grandchildren and a legion of former athletes who went on to teach and coach as he did in Stockton for nearly 40 years. Anttila met a number of his former players for lunch in Stockton on the second Tuesday of each month.

"There were a lot of people he influenced, and he really enjoyed seeing them," Sisko Anttila said.

The list of Bill Anttila's former players who became high school and college coaches includes Bob Gaughran and John Felix, each of whom was inducted into the U.S. Water Polo Hall of Fame, as well as Larry Huiras, Don Smith, Steve Donahue, Dick DeLong, Gene Nyquist, Don Kjeldsen, Bob Taylor and Bill Rose.

"He opened a lot of doors for a lot of guys," said Huiras, who played water polo for Anttila and later replaced him as head coach at Delta when Anttila retired in 1983. "He got me started in my career just because he was such a role model. I wanted to be like him and do what he did."


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