Jonathan Todd tried to keep it a secret, but word got out.
Wanting to hold his big announcement until the Laguna Beach football program held its team banquet Tuesday, many in attendance had already heard the news that the former Laguna Beach All-CIF football player, who headed the program for the past four years, was stepping down from his post.
"I wanted to keep it under wraps until the banquet, but it leaked out," Todd said.
For Todd, his decision to step away from coaching had everything to do with the kids, both on his team and in his family, he said.
His family — wife, Grace, and three children, two boys and a girl ages 9, 7 and 4 — won out.
"It was a very tough decision but at the same time, an easy one to make," said the 1987 Laguna Beach High grad, who was an all-league and All-CIF linebacker at the school as a junior, and all-league, All-CIF and running back as a senior. "Football was taking up so much of my time, six days a week. I wanted to put the focus back on my own family.
"I have three kids, two boys who play soccer and one of them also plays football. I was missing a lot of their games because of my schedule. The bottom line was that the amount of work I was putting in on the weekends was too much work."
Todd, 41, admitted that he began to flirt with the idea of stepping down as coach during the course of the 2010 season. Laguna Beach Athletic Director Mike Churchill said he knew of Todd's possible decision.
Churchill, 65, said that Todd "formally tended" his resignation a few weeks ago, and on Tuesday said the Laguna Beach Board of Education completed the formality by accepting his resignation at the school board meeting.
What's more, the now-vacant head coaching position at Laguna didn't stay vacant for long: also Tuesday, the school board accepted Churchill as the new head football coach, Churchill said Wednesday.
"When I went in to talk a while back to Mike (Churchill) about this, he mentioned that he might want to get back into coaching," Todd said. "That made my decision that much easier. In fact, it sealed it. It was a no-brainer."
Laguna Beach Principal Don Austin also verified the transition Wednesday.
"Coach Todd resigned to spend more time with his three young children and wonderful wife," Austin said in a statement. "He will continue to teach at LBHS and I would not be surprised to see him coaching here again when the timing is right for his family. We greatly appreciate Mr. Todd's contributions, which include a league championship and a State Academic Championship.
"Mr. Todd's character and dedication to our school will be forever appreciated. Mr. Churchill has been introduced to our kids and has already begun weight room training. He will continue to serve as our athletic director."
Sophomore Blake Hester, who played his first year of varsity this year, received a text message a few weeks back about Todd's decision while visiting family in Santa Barbara.
"I got a text from a friend who told me about it," said the tight end/offensive lineman, who's also is a catcher in the baseball program. "At first, I wasn't sure if it was true, but then found out it was.
"I texted Coach Todd and told him he was one of the greatest coaches I've ever had. He's so passionate about football and his team. It was great experience to have him as a coach.
Hester said he'll be back out for football in 2011 and is aware of Churchill's track record as a head coach. And it's some record.
In 20 years as a successful head football coach, Churchill's teams won eight league championships, made the playoffs 13 times and two of his Riverside Poly teams (1983-84) won CIF championships and were named "mythical" State champion. Churchill was named CIF Eastern Conference ('83) and CIF Big-5 Conference ('84) Coach of the Year.
"I was given the opportunity to coach again, and I jumped on it," said Churchill, who will continue in the role of athletic director. "I'm looking forward to it. In fact, I've already gotten the roster from Jonathan and we're getting things going. One thing we are working on is getting stronger with our lifting program.
"When Jonathan got here four years ago and took over the program, even though the team had been league champs the year before, things weren't done the right way. He did a great job of running it the right way."
Todd, who previously served as a Laguna assistant in football and track before becoming the football head coach, had a 15-28 record and his teams set numerous offensive records during his four years at the helm. His 2009 team won the Orange Coast League championship.
Todd, who has taught at Laguna Beach since 1997 and is a former athletic director at the school, will continue to teach history and world geography, as well as run, along with Jun Shen, the Model U.N. program at the school, he said.