In a school year where numerous Laguna Beach High athletes shined, Marina Paul and Derek Reigel have been named Most Valuable Female and Male Athletes of the Year, respectively, for the Breakers.
The news came as a surprise, each said, when it was announced June 6 at the school's year-end sports award banquet at Tivoli Terrace
"Marina Paul and Derek Reigel are perfect examples of Laguna Beach athletes," Laguna Beach Athletic Director Mike Churchill said. "They are not only outstanding athletes in the multiple sports that they have chosen, but they excel in the classroom. As captains of their teams, they have competed hard and led others to championships. They will both be missed."
A three-sport athlete during her senior year, Paul, 17, starred on the volleyball court, soccer field and in track and field. She was a four-year participant in girls' soccer and earned All-Orange Coast League and All-CIF-Southern Section honors. She also is a four-year participant and all-league player in girls' volleyball. In the spring, Paul competed in girls' track for the first time, running the 800 and also a leg on the Breakers' 4 x 400 relay team that won a league title in the event.
Paul, who carried a 4.28 grade-point average, also was the Laguna Beach Rotary Female Athlete of the Year for the school year and was named the 2011-12 Female Athlete of the Year for the Orange Coast League.
"I had a great time playing all those sports, and have a lot of great memories," Paul said. "I'm so honored by this award. It's hard to believe that my time at Laguna Beach High is over."
The 6-foot Paul went straight from volleyball to the soccer field. She was the Breakers' scoring leader, a co-captain and team MVP in soccer the last two years and helped guide the program to CIF Southern Section appearances in three of her four years.
Paul led Laguna this year to a 14-match unbeaten streak that included an undefeated run through Orange Coast League play.
"Marina lifted the entire team to play at a higher level this season," Laguna Beach girls' soccer Coach Bill Rolfing said. "Every player battled harder than ever with Marina's physical presence leading the way. Tall and strong, Marina is extremely aggressive and does not stop seeking the ball, offensively or defensively.
By being an Athlete of the Year at Laguna, Paul was able to follow in the footsteps of her brother, Chris, who was the school's Male Athlete of the Year last year. Chris Paul now plays baseball for Cal.
"I always have put my brother on a high pedestal and looked up to him. He's my hero," she said. "He's so competitive and he set the bar high, and it's pretty cool to receive this honor a year after he received his."
Marina Paul will continue her soccer career next year at Georgetown University, where she said she plans to study business.
"It's an indescribable feeling, knowing that I'm going to Georgetown," she said. "I'm so excited and really looking forward to studying and playing soccer there. I can't wait."
Playing sports was more of a team endeavor than an individual thing for Reigel.
The 18-year-old made his presence well-known on both the football field and basketball court. He made key plays on the gridiron and was known for his tenacity on defense in hoops. He participated in both sports in each of his four years and was an all-league player in each sport in three of those years.
Reigel played receiver and started at safety in football before being moved this year to linebacker. He finished his career ranked third all-time in receiving touchdowns for the Breakers.
Laguna ended its season 10-3 and became just the third Laguna team to win 10 games in a season. The Breakers also became the first Laguna team since 1964 to reach the CIF Southern Section semifinals.
"In football, I didn't put up the biggest stats or set records, I just gave it my all," Reigel said. "I love being part of a team and doing anything I could to help those around me be successful."
Laguna was a run-oriented team last fall and Reigel finished as the Breakers' leading receiver. He averaged 19.37 yards per catch and scored 42 points. Defensively, he played linebacker after being a stalwart in the secondary his first three years, Churchill said.
"Derek was so unselfish," said Churchill, who coached Reigel in football. "When asked to play a position that he had never played before, he never complained or questioned his role. To Derek, the important response was do what was best for the team."
Reigel made the transition straight from football to basketball. He was somewhat of a jack-of-all-trades on the court, saying he played "everywhere, a bit." He started the past three years and averaged seven points and 3.6 rebounds per game and shot 57% this year, a season in which the Breakers repeated as Orange Coast League champion.
"He was one of our best defenders and our toughest kid," Laguna boys' basketball Coach Bret Fleming said. "He was willing to do whatever was necessary to help the team win.
"Derek was the ideal two-sport athlete, giving 100% to both sports. Teammates from both sports knew that they could rely on him and he never let them down."
Reigel also was the Rotary club's Male Athlete of the Year this year. He maintained a 4.0 GPA and next year will attend San Diego State. He said he will enter the business school and "might" play club sports at the school.
"I had an amazing time here at Laguna," he said. "These past four years have flown by but I have a lot of great memories of this place."
Also at the school's sports awards banquet June 6, the following Breakers also were recognized:
Coach of the Year: Kari Johnson
Johnson completed her fourth year as head swimming coach in 2012. She has guided the boys' and girls' swim teams to Orange Coast League championships in each of her four years. This year's boys' team finished runner-up to the CIF Southern Section Division 3 title. The girls' teams in 2009 and 2011 also finished runner-up at CIF finals.
Co-Female GPA: Kate Magnuson, Kate McMahon
Magnuson and McMahon shared the honor as each posted a 4.53 GPA.
Magnuson played three years on the girls' varsity water polo team and participated in girls' swimming for three years. She was a second-team all-league pick in water polo this year.
McMahon played four years on the girls' tennis team. Team captain for the Breakers, she went undefeated in league doubles play this year and made the all-league second team.
Male GPA: Jared Boetes
Boetes boasted a 4.70 GPA to rank first among male athletes. In his first year in boys' varsity tennis, he started in doubles and placed third in the league tournament. He went 15-4 overall.
Female Athlete of Character: Marissa Merchant
Merchant, a senior and all-league performer, was a four-year participant in both cross-country and track and field.
"Marissa is a very good leader, she has good energy, she's always involved the younger athletes," her coach Steve Lalim said. "She never complained. She simply came to practice, did what was asked of her. Marissa is a huge reason that our program has been successful."
Male Athlete of Character: Tommy Renner
Renner played boys' water polo and swam all four of his years at Laguna. He was a team captain in both sports this year. He was named first-team all-league and second-team All-CIF in water polo. Renner played on two CIF championship teams in water polo.