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Coach Stewart steps down

The boys' volleyball team's new coach will be Scott Panaro, the high school announced this week.

December 15, 2011|By Mike Sciacca
  • Laguna head Coach Lance Stewart gets on his players during the CIF Southern California Regional Division III Championships at Irvine Valley College in May.
Laguna head Coach Lance Stewart gets on his players during… (Kevin Chang, Coastline…)

There has been a changing of the guard in world of the Laguna Beach High boys' volleyball program.

Lance Stewart, who served two different stints as varsity head coach, has stepped down from his position. Laguna Beach Athletic Director Mike Churchill said the school filled the vacancy this week by announcing Scott Panaro as Stewart's replacement.

Panaro, 29, has been a coach with Balboa Bay Volleyball Club since 2001. He's also served as an assistant coach to the Orange Coast College men's volleyball team since 2007 and last year was an assistant coach to the women's team at Vanguard University.

The Laguna Beach position is his second as a head coach at the high school level. He previously served as head coach at his alma mater, El Toro, in the 2005 and 2006 seasons.

Churchill said Panaro met his new team on Thursday.

"This is a phenomenal opportunity," Panaro said of the Laguna job. "Not many programs have the tradition, the athletes, that Laguna does. I feel it's one of the best programs in the country. I'm excited to be at the school."

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Stewart said he stepped down as head coach to take on a "few new business opportunities," which included the recent purchase of Mavericks Volleyball Club in Corona. He said he still will run 900 sq. ft. Volleyball Club in Laguna Beach.

"It was a tough, emotional decision to step down," he said. "I love the kids. I have fun with them and enjoy the relationships we've developed. Being in the gym, running practices ... I'm going to miss that. And the parents, I've made a lot of great friends with our parents.

"But I came to the decision to leave. First, running one high-profile varsity program, in and of itself, is tremendous work. Coaching both the boys' and girls' programs put a lot of strain on my time. A lot of that went into my final decision. I missed a ton of my kids' baseball games and was away from my wife (Deanna) a lot, but she understands. I had some new opportunities in front of me that I needed to give my full attention to. If wouldn't be fair to the boys, if I stayed."

When asked if he would return as the head coach of the Laguna girls' varsity team in the fall of 2012, he had a quick response.

"Oh, yeah," he said.

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