Hirst returns to work

Ten days after Larry Hirst collapsed because of dehydration while coaching the Newport Harbor High boys' basketball team during a game, he is back on his feet at the school.

Athletic Director Mike Zimmerman said Hirst returned to campus and the team for the first time on Monday.

"He looks great and well-rested," Zimmerman said of Hirst. Zimmerman added that Hirst went through his normal routine, teaching physical education before running the team's practice. "He's following the doctor's orders and he is on the medication that he needs to be on.

"Coming back to school and being with the team is the best medication he can have."

Zimmerman said he did not know what kind of medication Hirst is taking. He said he is just glad Hirst is feeling better and back after he missed the last three games.

Hirst had been recovering at home since paramedics took him to Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian on Jan. 14, when Hirst collapsed late in the fourth quarter of the Sailors' game against Edison. Zimmerman said Hirst felt sick and his sinuses were giving him problems days before the home game against his alma mater.

Zimmerman said Hirst, 49, has time to ease back into his coaching responsibilities.

The Sailors do not play until Friday at 7 p.m., when they are at home against Marina to begin the second round of Sunset League play.

Zimmerman said Hirst plans to coach the Sailors' final five games of the regular season. Bob Torribio, an assistant, has guided Newport Harbor in Hirst's absence.

The Sailors (8-12, 0-5 in league) have an uphill battle to avoid missing the CIF Southern Section playoffs for the first time in Hirst's last 14 years at the helm. Newport Harbor did not qualify for the postseason in the 2008-09 season, when Hirst was on sabbatical.

The Sailors are experiencing a similar season. They are in last place. Zimmerman said the current disappointing season has taken a toll on Hirst.

"He puts a lot into it. He takes it very seriously. He's a perfectionist," Zimmerman said. "I believe he truly judges success by the kind of performances he's getting from his players, and if they're getting better, not so much on the wins and losses. The losses hurt a lot, though.

"Every indication is that we will have him back [next season

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