Celso Rojas

Celso was born in Peru as the youngest of four children. At the age of six he was forced to learn how to swim by his older brothers (already swimmers themselves), who took it upon themselves to throw him into the water. Swimming became Celso’s primary activity at the urging of his father and the fact his family couldn’t afford other sports. Over time, he became a very good swimmer and competed in several national and international tournaments. His specialty was the backstroke.

At the age of 15, Celso was introduced to water polo by a Romanian gentleman, located in Peru while working for a German firm, who offered to coach the kids for free. Due to a lack of proper equipment the players were forced to improvise and used two sticks strung on top with flags as their goal nets and a basketball as their game ball. As one of the youngest players, Celso was forced to be the team goalie. He played as a goalie for more than two years before learning how to play in other positions.

As time went on, Celso continued to improve in his playing ability until he became the team captain for the Peruvian National Water Polo Team. Celso gained a lot of experience with the team playing in many national and international tournaments. One day during a training practice, three foreigners dropped by unexpectedly and asked to play with the team. These gentlemen turned out to be from the US National Water Polo Team. They were visiting Peru and had run out of funds and were unable to return to the US. The Peruvian players helped the Americans get the required funds by selling their SUV. Upon their return to the US, they invited Celso and two others to come to California and practice with the US National Team for three months.

Celso accepted the invitation and ended up training with the US National Team for six months. He continued living in California for four years where he fostered a number of important relationships within the US water polo community. At the age of 30, he returned to Peru and again became the National Water Polo Team Captain.

As his wife was Canadian, Celso moved his family up to Canada in May 2001 settling in Vancouver where he found a job at Simon Fraser University. While at the university, he responded to a request for a water polo coach and became the university’s girls’ coach. Under his tutelage, the girls won the North West Division title, in 2003, for the first time ever.

As part of the university staff, Celso took his level I and II coaching certifications. The certification instructor noticed Celso’s abilities and recommended he coach for Pacific Storm, BC’s premier water polo club. He joined Pacific Storm as a development coach in 2003 and became the Provincial Head Coach in 2005.

In 2006, four-time Olympian, David Hart, began recruiting Celso to replace him as Ottawa’s head coach. At first, Celso rejected the offer as he didn’t want to uproot his family again. In 2007, Celso accepted an invitation from David Hart to be a guest coach for the Ottawa summer camp. After that experience, David was very persistent and managed to convince Celso to move to Ottawa in 2008. In Ottawa, Celso has had many successes, his latest being the rebuilding of the girls U16 team. At the start of 2011 this team was decimated by every team they played. By February 2012, the U16 girls rose up and defeated the number one ranked U16 girls team at a U18 tournament in Gatineau.

Celso lives in Orleans with his wife and three children. All of his children play water polo and all have won many awards at the provincial and national levels.