for the first time.
On Tuesday night, Hill was officially introduced as the new boys'
varsity basketball coach at Laguna Beach.
He is the 20th person to hold the position and he replaces Rob
Cullinan, who resigned at the end of last season.
"I'm really excited to be the coach at Laguna Beach High," Hill
said Tuesday. "I took this job first, because I love Laguna Beach and
second, because I love a challenge."
Hill, 44, inherits a program that has won just one league
championship in the past 36 years -- that coming in 1999 -- although Laguna teams on three occasions have finished in second place and
twice placed third since 1990.
"We're very fortunate to land someone like Mark Hill," Laguna
Beach Athletic Director Mario Morales said. "The great thing about
Mark is that he is firm but fair. He's got a proven track record as a
coach and I think he's going to be very good for our program."
Morales said that he received more than a dozen applications for
the position and interviewed five prospects.
Hill said that not many head coaching jobs opened up this year,
noting that Katella, Orange and Laguna Beach were the three schools
"I wasn't really looking around but I knew that I wanted to get
back into coaching," he said. "Laguna was the only school I pursued."
Hill first made a name for himself when he coached Esperanza of
the Sunset League from 1988-96.
He turned around an Aztecs program that had not been to the
playoffs seven years prior to his arrival and had won just one league
championship in the school's first 17 years.
Hill guided Esperanza to three Sunset League titles in his last
five years at the school and his final seven Aztec teams qualified
for the playoffs. His teams consistently were ranked in Orange County
polls and in his final year, his 1995-96 squad finished the season
25-4, was ranked second in the CIF Southern Section's largest
division, Division I-AA, and was ranked third in Orange County.
He left Esperanza and pursued his master's degree at Azusa Pacific
University. A year later he returned to coaching and served for two
years as an assistant at Orange Coast College.
He then spent two years as the Pirates' head coach and this past