Sumner feeling left out

Scott Meyer as the new football coach at Corona del Mar High appears to be a great hire. But only time will reveal the truth.

The only truth now is that the administration is very happy to land someone like Meyer, who was the head coach at Long Beach Jordan for six years and a defensive coordinator at Long Beach Wilson this past fall. I repeat, the administration is very happy. But not everyone at CdM is overjoyed.

Bill Sumner, regarded as one of the top cross country and track and field coaches in the nation, was not too pleased he was left off the hiring panel, yet again. Sumner is in his 28th year at CdM. He has guided girls' cross country teams to seven state titles and the boys' teams to two state titles. He also has 15 CIF Southern Section titles from cross country and track and field for CdM. Simply put, the guy knows how to win.

"I was kind of offended that I wasn't on [the hiring panel]," Sumner said Thursday after his girls' track and field team scored a 65-62 win at Irvine. "It was one of those things: What does it take to be on that panel? When they realize that I'm a fixture at the school, maybe I'll be on it. I would've been honored to be on it."

CdM Assistant Principal Duncan McCulloch said at least three coaches were on the panel of "about 11 people." Baseball coach John Emme, boys' lacrosse coach G.W. Mix and wrestling coach Gary Almquist were on the panel, McCulloch said. Emme is in his 14th season at CdM, where he has guided teams to two section titles. He also received national attention for his grace in dealing with a disgruntled parent, even winning a counter lawsuit.

Almquist also works as the activities director at CdM.

Mix is in his second season as head coach of the Sea Kings' lacrosse program, but has fast earned respect with his leadership in forming local club lacrosse that continues to grow.

But Sumner asked me, "How do you have a guy who knows the school and knows the community so well not on that panel?"

Sumner also wasn't involved in the process when former football coach Jason Hitchens was hired. To the Sea Kings credit, it appears they've made great hires in both cases.

However, it is a bit puzzling that Sumner continues to be left out of the process.

"Coach Sumner is very well respected here and a great member of our staff," McCulloch said during lunchtime at the school shortly after Meyer was introduced as coach. "But the panel was a good cross section of input and a lot of good representation."

I agree it was good. With Sumner, it would've been great.

"I hope they don't need another panel [for a football coach] soon, but if they do I hope they ask me," Sumner said. "This is like my 10th football coach. I've seen them come and go."

McCulloch was also on the panel, as was Athletic Director Don Grable. A booster representative was also on the panel, McCulloch said, but no students were on it.

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Meyer issued some lofty goals when he delivered his opening statement to his players inside the Little Theater at CdM.

He told the Sea Kings he wants each of them to maintain a grade-point average of 3.5 or higher.

He didn't stop there.

"When I signed up for this job, we want to beat Newport Harbor," Meyer told his players. "We're going to win the Pacific Coast League. We're going to have fun. We're going to win the Southern Division [of CIF Southern Section]."

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When Meyer assembles his staff he's hoping to retain some assistants from last year.

"The staff the last [three] years has done a great job," he said to his players in the Little Theater. "The first thing I do when I leave here I'm going to call those coaches from last year's staff and try to make sure we get as many as those guys onboard. We've got to keep this thing rolling. You guys have done a great job. We're going to build on that foundation and build on that success and get after it."

For more on Meyer read today's story on A1.

— David Carrillo Peñaloza contributed to this story

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