I attended "Back to School Night" at Corona del Mar High on Thursday with mixed emotions.
Katie, my youngest child, is a senior, and I'm as proud of her as any doting father could be. But she is the youngest of my three children to attend CdM, and that means no more Back to School Nights. No matter how many admonitions I've received over the years to savor the time with children because they grow up so fast, it was still a rude awakening to realize that our darling little girl is getting ready to head off into the world.
As I maneuvered through a daunting obstacle course at night to find her third period class in a bungalow in the far recesses of CdM, it became clear that the class was economics. What could be more relevant in this time of severe nationwide economic challenge than a study of economics? The Presidential election in November largely centers around the voters' perception of whether the economy has disintegrated or is heading in the right direction. The United States faces challenges from resurgent China and India world trade. And this generation will head into a much more dynamic and changing economy than did their parents.
The teacher was low key, but commanding. Scott Meyer has a masters in economics which qualifies him to handle the task, but he is also the head coach of the CdM football team.
A high school football coach plays as critical a role as does any coach in team sports. Football is a game which involves large numbers of bodies and the need for discipline and system. High school students are still growing and maturing. Bringing order out of chaos requires considerable planning and preparation. Coaches at this level get close to their players and become mentors. High school football involves teaching and coaching in a much more intense one-on-one relationship than players experience later. High school football coaches can play a special role in their players' lives.
CdM has special hurdles. It is a small school with six grades combined on one campus. If my math is correct, the combined enrollment for middle school and high school is just over 2,400 students. By comparison, my three-year Los Angeles high school had an enrollment of over 3,600.
I remember my sons Jon and Matt competing in freshman football against Newport Harbor and the tiny number of players on the CdM sidelines compared to Newport Harbor's was overwhelming. A smaller population pool to draw from means less talented athletes to select from.
Keep in mind that many Orange County high schools actually recruit students from all across Southern California, notwithstanding whatever actual home addresses they hail from. So tiny CdM has its work cut out for it.
Scott Meyer coached his first season at CdM last year and the results were amazing. The team won the CIF Southern Section Southern Division championship. The junior varsity went 8-2 and the freshmen won all 10 games.
Meyer comes from a terrific coaching pedigree. His grandfather, Cliff, spent 34 years as a coach and athletic director at Long Beach Wilson. His father, Jon, continued in his father's footsteps, taking over the coaching position and serving as a longtime coach and administrator. Scott went on to be defensive coordinator at that school.
Before my father became a principal, he was an athletic coordinator for several Los Angeles high schools so I grew up in a high school sports family. Meyer not only has a teaching load that would be hectic, he has to coach football. The sacrifice of family time and sleep requires great dedication. Each role is vital. CdM is lucky to have him.
LEIGH STEINBERG is a renowned sports agent, author, advocate, speaker and humanitarian. His column appears weekly. Follow Leigh on Twitter @steinbergsports or blog.steinbergsports.com.