By Jennifer Erickson and Frank Aronoff | LB Indy
After leading Laguna Beach High School’s football team during its two most successful seasons ever, Coach Mike Churchill turned in his resignation,effective Friday, Dec. 7, the school district announced Tuesday.
In a second high-profile retirement, the longtime girls’ volleyball coach Lance Stewart, also announced his resignation. Stewart, who had already given up coaching the boys’ high school team, said in a statement he intends to focus on his private volleyball ventures and sent in his resignation to the school’s athletic director.
Stewart was never an employee of the district, but one of many so-called walk-on coaches hired by the athletic director in part-time positions.
Even so, he compiled an all-time career record as the girls coach at 184-67 with a 36-10 section and state playoff record, the most wins of any Laguna volleyball coach in the 41 seasons of CIF sponsorship.
Stewart was re-hired in 2003 to restore the program after a lackluster season. His girls’ teams won two section titles and eight league titles. The 2012 squad went 18-6 on the season ranked in the county top-10, losing in the quarterfinals of the playoffs.
As a student, Stewart was one of the school’s most decorated athletes, winning all CIF honors in football, basketball and
volleyball. He was state player of the year for boys’ volleyball in 1981. As a coach, he earned his share of controversy, temporarily suspended in 2010 for policy infractions, subjected to an unusual public hearing after one parent pressed for his ouster, but ultimately returned to the court.
Churchill, 67, who took on the varsity coaching duties while also serving as the high school’s athletic director, intends to remain in the latter post managing coaching assignments for the school’s nearly two-dozen boys and girls sports teams.
Corey Brown, who worked two seasons as varsity assistant football coach and head freshman/sophomore coach, was named to succeed Churchill at Tuesday’s school board meeting.
“He is absolutely magical with the kids,” said Principal Joanne Culverhouse at the meeting.
Under Churchill’s two seasons as head coach, the football team in both years compiled a strong enough record to enter post-season CIF competition, losing in the semifinal game of the playoffs typically against far larger schools.
A California native who participated in football, basketball and track at Merced High School, Brown was a starting quarterback at Fresno City College on a nationally ranked team and earned a scholarship to Nichols State University in Thibodaux, La. He received a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies at CSU Stanislaus. Before coming to Laguna, he worked in student services and outreach at Merced Community College.
“I’m truly excited,” Brown said of his new post at the meeting Tuesday, visibly moved by what he termed a “wonderful opportunity” to hold this “position of leadership and inspiration for student athletes.”
Brown said that he prizes the team work in this community and looks forward to continuing to build relationships here. “I’m giddy,” he concluded.
In addition to his coaching duties, Brown has been the high school’s transition coordinator since 2009 and works closely with staff to support the academic and social needs of the students. “Corey is valuable member of the LBHS staff and will maintain the positive momentum of our winning season,” Culverhouse said.