Sam Bailey named Corona del Mar girls' water polo coach

Corona del Mar High is going with a familiar face as its new girls’ water polo coach.

Sam Bailey is the Sea Kings’ coach pending clearance from the Newport-Mesa Unified School District, CdM Athletic Director Don Grable said Monday.

Bailey, who has college coaching experience, worked as the CdM boys’ coach in 2004, and was also an assistant under former girls’ coach Aaron Chaney from 2003 to 2005.

“We’re very excited to have him on board,” Grable said. “He has history here. He’s a quality person. You can just tell he’s in it for the right reasons … he’s a great fit.”

Bailey said he expects to receive approval of his hire Tuesday. When he found out about the opening, he said he immediately put his resume together with thoughts of landing the job and returning to CdM.

“I’m very excited about this position,” he said. “Out of any job I’ve taken this is the most challenging and that’s due chiefly to Aaron’s success. It isn’t so much about the winning. The girls, along with the community and the culture he’s created is just mind blowing. The commitment he put into the program is second to none. Taking over that, it will be daunting. At the same, I’m really excited.”

Bailey, 33, was named CIF Southern Section Division I Coach of the Year in boys’ water polo after he led the Sea Kings to a semifinals appearance and a 20-9 record in 2004, his only season as CdM boys’ coach. The Sea Kings finished 8-19 the year before.

He left CdM to work as a men’s assistant under John Vargas, also a former CdM coach, at Stanford in 2005, when the Cardinal finished as NCAA runner-up.

Bailey became an assistant at UCLA, his alma mater, in 2007. He worked with the men’s and women’s teams, when the women won a national title in 2008.

He played on two national championship teams (1996 and 1999) while at UCLA.
In January, he was hired to be the girls’ water polo coach and start the new program at Marlborough School in Los Angeles. It was his second time as a head coach.

The third time just might be the charm for Bailey. He’s taking over a highly respected program, one of the better teams in Orange County year after year.

CdM won five CIF section titles under Chaney and made two Division I title-game appearances. Bailey was a part of three of those championships, as the Sea Kings won Division II titles in each season.

Chaney resigned as coach after nine seasons in April to move back to Hawaii, where he is from. He wanted to be closer to his mother, who grew fond of Kaia, Chaney’s 1-year-old daughter. Chaney’s wife, Hermie, also landed a job at Punahou High, where Chaney graduated.

“It’s going to be tough to follow in the footsteps of Chaney,” Grable said. “But we believe he’s the coach who can do it.”

Bailey refers to Chaney as a mentor.

Bailey went to CdM for a second interview Friday, when he was offered the job. He said he wants to perform his student teaching at CdM, as he is completing a teaching credential and a masters degree at National University in Los Angeles. He said he hopes to eventually teach at CdM.

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