On March 1, the day the Newport Harbor High boys' volleyball team opened the season, Coach Steve Astor said he applied for a few girls' jobs. At the time, there was an opening at rival Corona del Mar.
"I don't know about that yet," Astor said when asked back then whether he planned to apply for the girls' coaching position at CdM. "I haven't really thought that through yet.
"But I'd like to get my own girls' program."
Three months later, Astor found one on the other side of the Back Bay.
Astor said he's taking over as the CdM girls' volleyball coach and leaving his post with the Newport Harbor boys when the school year ends.
Astor's stint with the Sailors was short lived. His predecessor, Dan Glenn, who spent a quarter of a century in charge of Newport Harbor's boys, teased Astor about lasting just two years with the Sailors.
"I wish him the best," said Glenn, the director of volleyball at Newport Harbor, after he learned one of his former assistants is replacing one of his former players.
Astor fills a CdM job that's been vacant since December, when Marissa Booker stepped down to spend more time with her family. She led the Sea Kings for two successful seasons, the first to the CIF Southern Section Division 1A title match.
Astor will be CdM's third coach in six years. The previous two coaches, Darryl Gan and Booker, led their respective CdM teams to section finals appearances, Gan in 2008 and '09 and Booker in '11, but their teams never won a section crown while at the helm.
Astor said he feels blessed to be in the position he's in at age 28. He's worked under legendary coaches like Glenn, served seven years as an assistant under former Laguna Beach girls' coach Lance Stewart, and one season with former UC Irvine head man John Speraw, who coached at the Balboa Bay Volleyball Club before taking over the UCLA men's volleyball program.
Astor's first head coaching job was with the Newport Harbor boys and second one will be with the CdM girls. Both are storied programs in Southern California.
With the high-profile job come high expectations. Astor said he's well aware of them.
"I like the challenge," said Astor, who guided the Sailors to Sunset League runner-up finishes and the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs in each of his two seasons. "I had a great time at Newport. Now, I get to run a girls' program. I'm looking forward to it. I want to focus on one place and give it all my attention."
Astor said he decided to throw his name into CdM's application pool on May 17, the final day the school accepted applications. That day also happened to be eight days after the Sailors' season ended.
The timing worked in Astor's favor, as CdM reopened the job after the first go-around of candidates didn't lead to a hire. Astor said he never considered applying for the CdM job until the Sailors' season wrapped up, which it did in a five-set setback in the second round of the playoffs at third-seeded San Clemente.
Astor said he informed his three captains off that team, seniors Steven Duhoux and Scott Russell, and junior Peirce Ward, on Friday of his decision to leave Newport Harbor.
"That was the toughest part," Astor said of talking with the three players. "They were excited for me and bummed I was leaving. They were shocked it happened so fast."
The move didn't surprise Glenn. Also, don't be surprised if Glenn, 54, comes back.
Glenn said he wouldn't rule out coming back to coach the Newport Harbor boys. He still coaches the girls, this past season marked his 27th.
Glenn said he understood and supported Astor's decision to pursue a coaching job that might lead to a teaching job at CdM. Astor said he's about 18 months away from earning his teaching credential.
"The last three guys that were up for the [CdM] job, Bryan Cottriel, Coach Astor and Josh Ko, all coached at Harbor at one time," Glenn said. "It's fun to see those guys. They're all doing really well."
Cottriel and Ko have been assistants for the CdM boys' program under Coach Steve Conti.
Astor said he hasn't talked to Conti about helping him out with the boys in the spring. Astor will have his hands full in the fall trying to get CdM its first girls' section crown in nine years.
"We are very happy to have Steve join our CdM coaching family," CdM Athletic Director Don Grable said in an email. "He is a perfect fit for our girls' program, and through his leadership and teaching, we look forward to many great years of CdM girls' volleyball."