Jocelyn Manderino, a former Newport Harbor High standout, is now the girls' water polo coach at Fountain Valley. (SCOTT SMELTZER, Daily Pilot / December 18, 2010)

It's been such a chaotic week for Jocelyn Manderino.

Ever since she was named Fountain Valley High girls' water polo coach last month, she's felt as if she's been playing catch-up.

This past week, she could barely breathe with all the pressure and duties needed to be completed.

In addition to working in her first head coaching job, Manderino, a former Newport Harbor water polo standout, has been wearing other hats, as well.

She's an apartment manager in Tustin. As if working with teen-aged girls wasn't challenging enough, she's a single mother of two young boys.

This past week was tough indeed. She couldn't get things settled.

"Everything was up in the air and I hate when everything is up in the air," she said.

As apartment manager, she had two vacancies she needed to fill. With her team, she had been concerned and frustrated that the stomach flu had hit some of her players and they missed time.

She also had a practice site jumbled. She wanted to get her team in a bigger pool for practice, but was denied. However at the last minute, she was approved.

Also, Manderino discovered there were some obstacles to having her younger sister, Kathryn, as an assistant coach.

It wasn't until later in the week that she had Kathryn approved as a volunteer assistant, meaning she can only be with the team if her older sister is there.

"Now everything is getting settled and I can breathe again," Manderino said.

Manderino likes calmness. She wants to bring stability a program that has had three coaches in the past four years.

Manderino believes she's found a home. She knows she's been wanting to become a head coach.

After leading Newport Harbor to its first CIF section title in 1999, she went on to play at USC. After USC, she was an assistant at Newport, learning under Coach Bill Barnett.

"I learned so much about the basics of water polo and the sheer fact that if you build that basic foundation how that can elevate your game so much more," Manderino said of working for the legendary coach, who she'll face in a Sunset League game at Newport Harbor on Jan. 5. "Sometimes coaches go into it and they want to teach the advance stuff. But if you don't have that solid foundation, it's hard to grasp that higher stuff.

"Barnett really preached all that and he taught hard work ethic. He didn't put up with a lot of stuff. When I coach, it's the similar aspect. Barnett yelled, but he yelled in a caring way."

Manderino wanted to stay at Newport Harbor, but her life pulled her in another direction.

Marriage and children came along, yet Manderino still found time to be an assistant coach at Beckman, and then later at Cypress College.

A year ago, she experienced a sort of liberation. In a word, divorce.