In attendance at several CIF Southern Section boys’ water polo division championship matches in Irvine last fall, Stephen Whittier made it a point to watch Glendale compete against Los Altos in the Division V title contest.

Whittier came away impressed after the Nitros registered a 13-11 victory to win the team’s first CIF title. What Whittier couldn’t have imagined following the Nitros’ historic moment was being in line to become the program’s new coach.

Whittier won’t have to envision that prospect any longer after he was named Glendale’s boys’ water polo and swim coach July 9. Whittier replaces Forest Holbrook, who held both positions and also served as the school’s girls’ aquatics coach the past five seasons before resigning in May to become an assistant principal at Crescenta Valley.

“I came away impressed watching them against Los Altos,” said Whittier, who coached the Temescal Canyon girls’ water polo team last season. “They had a bunch of excellent shooters and they knew how to attack.

“They were fun to watch. It never entered my mind at that time that I would be the new coach. I’m excited about it.”

Whittier graduated in 2004 from Esperanza High in Anaheim, where he was a utility player on the school’s water polo team. He then graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho. Whittier, 29, will also teach history at Glendale.

Whittier guided Temescal Canyon to the Sunbelt League championship last season. Temescal Canyon went 16-15, 6-0 in league before suffering an 11-4 defeat to visiting Crescenta Valley in a Division V quarterfinal match.

Now, Whittier will be in charge of keeping Glendale afloat.

“I’ve already met with the players and have gone over some of the goals that we will look to put in place,” Whittier said. “I like players who excel in one-on-one situations and who know how to counter-attack and play great defense.

“I think we have some very good players and we will look to field another great team.”

Glendale boys’ athletic director Pat Lancaster said Whittier is up to the challenge of further accelerating both programs.

“He certainly knows his stuff,” said Lancaster, a former Glendale boys’ water polo coach. “He had a great interview with us.

“He knows how to build a program. He’s got some coaching experience. We will have a lot of returners [in water polo]. The players will be excited to have him on board.”

Lancaster said Glendale will look to fill the vacant girls’ aquatics coaching jobs soon.