Coaching Staff

  • 12u Coeds will be coached by Rylee Gordillo.
  • 14u Girls will be coached by Erin McBride & Savannah Fitzgerald
  • 16/18u Girls will be coached by Eric Benson, Elisa Grim, & Cynthia Rosa
  • Abbey Armstrong & Kelly Villanueva are the goalie coaches
Eric Benson

Eric has been a referee in Fresno since 2017, working hundreds of games at College, Junior College, High School, and USAWP levels throughout Northern, Central and Southern California.  He earned the top Referee award for the Youth division (18u) at the 2019 ODP Championships.  Prior to working as a referee, Eric ran the Huntington Beach Water Polo Club with Natalie where they made the 18u platinum championship game 3 years in a row.  Under Eric and Natalie's leadership, the 16u team won back-to-back Cal Cup state championships.  One of the greater accomplishments came in 2012 when Eric's 18u B team finished 8th while Natalie's A team finished 2nd, both in the platinum division of JO's.  Eric played at Long Beach State after serving 9 years in the US Coast Guard. He also earned an MBA from Loyola Marymount.
Abbey Armstrong

Abbey is a goalie on the Fresno State Water Polo team, she joined the Bulldogs in 2021. Abbey attended Temecula Valley High School and was a three-year varsity player and starting goalie. She was First Team All-CIF in 2020, three-time All-Southwestern League selection and was named captain her senior year. She played club water polo at CHAWP Aquatics.
Elisa Grim
Elisa is going into her second year of playing water polo at Fresno State. She is a kinesiology major and plans to go to nursing school after graduation.  She was born and raised in Lodi where her family still lives.  Elisa has a brother and sister who both played water polo in college. A fun fact about Elisa is that she loves to cook and read. 
Emily 'Dio' Diacono

Emily is the youngest of three siblings; her sister Alyssa, played water polo at SDSU and now coaches collegiate water polo.  Her brother, Matthew, played water polo at CBU and currently resides in Fort Worth, TX working as a mechanical engineer.  Dio grew up in Mission Viejo, CA and attended Tesoro High School.  She started playing water polo at 12 years old for SET.  Dio committed to play water polo at Fresno State her junior year of high school.  She played all four years as a center defender and earned an undergraduate degree in Kinesiology.  Dio will be continuing her education this Fall at Fresno State with the goal of earning a graduate degree in Sports Psychology. Throughout the years, Dio has dabbled in coaching, including here at Bulldog! "I love that I can use my knowledge of the sport to help young athletes grow both in the pool and in life."


Prior Club Coaching Accomplishments

  • Eric and Natalie Benson ran the 16/18u Girls program at Huntington Beach Water Polo Club from 2009 through 2013.  They competed in the Southern Pacific zone, which was, and still is the most competitive zone in the country.  After JO's in 2013, they departed HB to head across the country so Natalie could start collegiate coaching at Marist College in New York.  Below is a summary of HB's larger accomplishments under that time.  All results were in the Platinum division unless noted:
    • 2009 - Formed the team from scratch
      • 18's finished 12th at JO's  
      • 16's finished 3rd at JO's
    • 2010
      • 16's & 18's finished 5th at JO's,
      • 16's won Cal Cup State Finals
    • 2011 
      • 18u A won SoPac JO Quals.  
      • 18u A team won JOs, 18u B team won Gold division JO's
      • 18u A team 2nd place US Club Championships
      • 16s A finished 7th JO's, 16s B finished 3rd in Gold division JO's. 
      • 16s A won Cal Cup State Finals, 3rd at US Club Championships.
    • 2012
      • 18u A team 2nd place JO's
      • 18u B team 8th place JO's
      • 18u A team 3rd place at US Club Championships
      • 16u A team 4th place JO's, 16u B team 17th place JO's
      • 16u A team 2nd place US Club Championships
    • 2013
      • 18u A team 2nd place JO's
      • 18u B team 4th place Silver division
      • 16's A team 11th place JO's
  • In total, the club made back-to-back-to-back appearances at JO's in the 18u Platinum Championship game, won 4 Junior Olympics Platium medals and won 12 medals overall.