Larry Hirst is back as the Newport Harbor High boys’ basketball coach, two months after he stepped down during the season.
Mike Zimmerman, the school’s athletic director, sent an email on Monday to the parents of players to announce Hirst will return. In the message, Zimmerman wrote that Hirst would have a meeting on campus with parents on Wednesday at 5 p.m. “to discuss the direction of the program.”
Hirst has taken a leave of absence from his head coaching duties with the Sailors three times in the past four seasons. Newport Harbor has missed the CIF Southern Section playoffs three times during the same period.
Two seasons ago, Hirst left because of health reasons, and he was gone for the entire 2008-09 season because he wanted to spend time with family.
This past season, Hirst stepped down before the Sailors’ second Sunset League game. Michael Vossen, the school’s principal, said back in January that he could not comment about why Hirst left, but he never ruled out the possibility of Hirst returning to lead the Sailors.
Hirst has won close to 250 games at Newport Harbor and during one stretch guided the program to 12 straight postseason appearances.
In recent times, the Sailors have struggled. They are 6-34 in Sunset League play in the past four seasons and have never finished with an overall record above .500.
Under Bob Torribio, an assistant who took over for Hirst in January, Newport Harbor finished 7-17 and 2-8 in league.