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Corona del Mar hires Sam Stafford as girls’ volleyball coach

Corona del Mar hires Sam Stafford as girls’ volleyball coach
Corona del Mar coach Sam Stafford, pictured talking with his boys' team at Los Angeles Loyola on March 6, was named the school's girls' volleyball coach Thursday. (Tim Berger / Staff Photographer)

Corona del Mar High athletic director Don Grable announced on Thursday that Sam Stafford will be the school’s next girls’ volleyball coach.

Stafford, who is also in charge of the CdM boys’ volleyball program, will succeed Steve Astor. Under Astor, the girls’ volleyball program compiled an overall record of 139-49 and a record of 55-1 in league play in the last six seasons.

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Astor stepped away from the program in January, expressing a desire to explore coaching opportunities at the next level as the reason for his decision. Astor is now an assistant with the University of Washington women’s volleyball program.

“I love the sport and I love the school,” said Stafford, who had been an assistant under Astor for the past four years. “I can’t imagine working and coaching in another place. I think Steve Astor did a great job kind of instilling the culture and the expectation, and I just hope to continue that and kind of put my own spin on it.

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“We obviously do things very similar, in a lot of ways, because I worked for him for a number of years and was friends with him.”

Corona del Mar coach Sam Stafford gives directions to his boys' team in a nonleague match against Beckman on Feb. 21.
Corona del Mar coach Sam Stafford gives directions to his boys' team in a nonleague match against Beckman on Feb. 21. (Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Stafford had also served as an assistant under former CdM boys’ volleyball coach Steve Conti, before the latter resigned in November after running the program for 23 years. Stafford replaced Conti.

In his first season at the helm of the boys, Stafford led the Sea Kings to a 22-8 overall record and a share of the Surf League crown at 5-1. The Sea Kings earned the No. 3 seed in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs, but Santa Barbara beat host CdM 26-24, 19-25, 25-23, 25-22 in the quarterfinals.

The task of running both the boys’ and girls’ programs on campus was seen as more of a benefit than a challenge by Stafford. He’s a physical education teacher at CdM.

“I think if you’re prepared and if you plan accordingly, I don’t think it’s a challenge,” Stafford said. “I think there are a lot of benefits, too, because now I get to have a relationship with every volleyball player at our campus. I get to coordinate both programs.

“There are a lot of good things that come with it. If this sport is something that you love, I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to spend more time in the gym.”

Stafford, a former CdM volleyball player, has also served on the coaching staff at Newport Harbor. He’s also a coach for the Balboa Bay Volleyball Club.

“With his volleyball experience and success both as a player and a coach, we are excited to have Sam now be the leader of both our girls’ and boys’ volleyball programs,” Grable said in a press release. “We are confident he will work with all involved to continue our strong volleyball tradition of integrity and excellence on the court, in the classroom, and in the community.”

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