The Heart of an Athlete: Coach Georgia Gilmore (‘17) Strives to Empower Bishop’s Female Athletes

New Bishop’s Swim and Water Polo Coach teaches female athletes the importance of working hard while still having fun


Georgia Gilmore via @calwwp on Instagram

Coach Georgia Gilmore (‘17) jumps for joy before playing her last season at UC Berkeley in Spring of 2022.

Coach Georgia Gilmore (‘17) helped Bishop’s Girls Water Polo earn four straight CIF Championships as a four-time All-CIF selection and the Player of the Year in 2017. After spending five years playing at UC Berkeley (Cal), Georgia is back at Bishop’s and ready to lead the Girl Water Polo team to more victories – this time as an assistant coach. As a senior on the Bishop’s Girls Water Polo and Swim team, I wanted to get to know our new leader, so my fellow teammates and I spent some time with her, talking about her past, her passion, and her plans for our future. 

How did you start playing water polo?

“My mom played. She started when she was in high school. Her family was an aquatic family and she wanted to expand from swimming so she started playing at her high school with the coed team and she fell in love with it. Over the years, she played at UCSB and SDSU, where she met [Bishop’s Head of Aquatics Doug Peabody]. So her and Doug have been friends ever since. When I came around, and I was finally at the age of playing water polo Doug said, ‘bring Georgia out to play.’ So, then I came out to play and started at San Diego Shores. That’s where it blossomed.”

Knowing your mom played and coached water polo, what kind of role does she play in your career?

“She’s my rock. She’s my whole entire support system. I go to her for everything. So, obviously when I was younger, she played more of a tactical role in my development and after games, she would tell me her thoughts on how I played and what I can do better and what I should be working on. So that was helpful. But as my career progressed, and as I’ve gotten older, she’s become somebody I can use as a soundboard. So when I have different things I want to develop or improve on in my game, I go to her and I say, ‘what do you think about this?’ or ‘this is what I’m thinking, but what do you think?’ She’s a water polo junkie, just like me. So she comes and she watches the games I’m coaching and gives me feedback on how I can be a better coach and be of more assistance. Having her to support me has been huge throughout my whole entire life and career.”

How does your mom empower you as a female athlete?

“Well, she is the strongest person I know, period. So not only as an athlete but as a woman, she makes me feel like I can do anything that I set my mind to, all I have to do is really focus and actually want it. If I want something, I always feel confident to go out and get it because of her and I try to teach you the same thing. You should never ever in your life stop learning about your sport, about your work, about things that you love, about things that you’re passionate about, you should always continue to learn. You can always be a better friend, a better person, a better teacher, a better coach, a better player, and a better athlete. She teaches me that anything I set my mind to is possible and I want you guys to believe that too because I know that evolving and changing is really hard, especially at a young age. Sometimes you feel like ‘I’m doing my best, what else do you want from me?’ but there can always be better. I feel like she’s taught me that and I want to teach [female athletes] that too.”

What have you learned playing at Bishop’s and then going on to play the next level at Cal?

“I feel like playing here at Bishop’s taught me a lot about dedication, working hard, and also being a good teammate. Showing up for your teammates, regardless of the situation, whether it’s in or out of the pool. Putting your team first and sacrificing. Obviously, I have gained a lot of skills. We have very experienced and knowledgeable coaches who know the game very well and are very good teachers for the sport. I most notably took life lessons from them in how to not only be a good teammate but also be a good person. I took those skills to Cal. Being mentally tough and knowing your role. [At Bishop’s], I had a big role from the very start, and at Cal, I was able to take many different roles. Knowing that each role that you play on a team is just as important as the next, I was able to take that and evolve every year in my career at Cal.”

What are some challenges that you have faced in your career?

“Obviously, I’m new. New to coaching in general. I’ve always been an athlete. I have the heart of an athlete. I have the mindset of an athlete. So, in that sense, it’s really good. I can tell you exactly what I would do in that situation because I was just in it. I can relate to you on that front because I was also an athlete. But my difficulties came in when I’ve never coached before, so being the one voice that everybody listens to is tough. Especially on JV, I’m running the plays, I’m writing up the lineups. I had it a bit easier because we didn’t have as many girls so there weren’t as many options on where to put everyone haha but still there’s a lot to prepare for.

 I never want to be unprepared. I always want to be prepared for every situation and every scenario that you are going to encounter. I feel responsible to have the answer for your questions or to be able to help you out when things aren’t going the way you want them to. I hope you felt like I was a help to you when you were lost. I know everybody is different. Getting to know everybody individually was so important to me. What you need is different from what others need, and that is what is probably hardest about being a coach. Nonetheless, it was rewarding in the end when we were prepared the way we needed to be prepared.”

How are you trying to impact Bishop’s female athletes in both swim and water polo?

“I like to be a positive source of energy for you guys. [Bishop’s Girls Water Polo] has experienced a lot of things without me and when I came to the coaching staff, I wanted to be able to provide something that maybe you didn’t have already. I know that you have been coached by men most of your career. I wanted to come in and be able to relate to you in the way that I am a young woman. I have also experienced everything that you are going through in one way or another. I was a Bishop’s athlete. I’ve gone through the academics here. I’m also a woman. So, I can add in that aspect that I feel that maybe you weren’t getting before [I joined the coaching staff]. I just know that having a female figure to look up to is really important in a young woman’s life. I wanted to be that person for you.”