Seaside Boys Volleyball Coaching Hall of Fame
Mark Smith: 1989 – 1995, 2004 - 2008
Mike Baykal: 1991 – 1999
John Hawks: 1994 - 1998
Mark Presho: 1995 – 2001
Matt Osburn: 2002 – 2009
Jim Harrah: 2000 – 2009
Sonny Knight: 1996 – 2006
Leonardo Morales: 2001 – 2009
Tom Shoji: 2006 – 2008
Jeff Hall: 1999 – 2006
Fred Featherstone Seaside Founder: 1989-2012
Mark Smith: 1989-1995, 2004-2008
Mark helped to found the club with Coach Featherstone and former UCLA great Dave Olbright in 1989. He assisted Coach Featherstone with the 1990, 18-1 Black team that won the Silver Medal (2nd overall) at the Junior Olympics in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
In 1991, Mark led the Seaside 16-1 team to a 3rd place finish at the SoCal Classic. In ’92, Mark assisted Mike Baykal with the Seaside 18 Black team that won the club’s first National Championship at the Junior Olympics as the competition returned to Albuquerque, New Mexico.
In 1993, Mark coached the 16’s again and then followed up this effort with a solid 12th place finish, overall, coaching the Seaside 18 Black team at the Junior Olympics in Austin, Texas in 1994. This was the summer of the infamous “OJ Trial.”
In 1995, in Orlando, Florida, Mark assisted Mike Baykal again with the Seaside 18 Black team. The team missed medaling by one spot by finishing 4th overall at the Nationals.
Mark left Seaside in ’96 to form his own club – Shorebreak – out of Escondido – where he remained until 2002. Mark returned to Seaside from 2004 to 2008 coaching with various teams, helping Coach Featherstone break in new coaches, and as a camp coach.
Mark had head coaching stints at five different San Diego High Schools : Monte Vista, La Jolla, University, Serra, and Tri-City Christian. In addition, Mark was the men’s assistant coach at both San Diego City College from 2009 to 2012; and from 1993 to ’95 at UCSD.
Coach Featherstone on Mark Smith : “ Great guy and a great gym coach. . .tremendous enthusiasm that rubbed off on his players. . .he understood what I wanted to accomplish and we shared the same approach at training the players – fast-paced with no one standing around. . .Mark had the ability to coach different levels, was demanding, but fair, and saw the game as a setter would see it as this was his position as a player. . . Mark was the setter at Palomar College in the mid- seventies when I was substitute teaching at Palomar from time to time and he shared my passion for volleyball. . .In ’89, two years after I and Dave Olbright started boy’s club ball in San Diego with the San Diego Volleyball Club, I contacted Mark about starting our own boy’s club. . .Olbright left to become an assistant at UC Irvine so Mark and I began to lay the foundation and high goals that we shared for the San Diego high school players. . . Collectively, we both knew the timing was right to build a high-powered boy’s club. . .We spent many hours sending out fliers to high school coaches and many hours on the phone lining up gyms to train in. . . Together, Mark and I were ready to pull all the available talent together and begin serious training for Seaside in fall ‘89. . .In our inaugural year, I coached the 18 team and Mark coached the 16 team. . .Two teams; that was it. . .There were no 17, 15, or 14 teams in the SoCal competition at the time. . .Toward the end of the ’90 season, I asked Mark to join me to train our talented 18 Black team at the Junior Olympics. . . I had coached most of these boys from the time they were sophomores in the SDVBC and they were ready to make a statement for Seaside and San Diego. . . We headed to New Mexico where we almost pulled off winning the National Championship finishing 2nd to a strong Torrance VBC out of the South Bay. . .Since that summer, Mark and I have always enjoyed working in the gym together. . . He became pivotal to our success early on and remained with Seaside on and off until 2008 and he will always be welcome to work our camps in the future.”
Mike Baykal: 1991-1999
A native of the country of Turkey, Mike came to Seaside with a solid playing background and as a high school official in San Diego. At the time he started, Mike was also coaching the University High School Varsity Boys team to two consecutive CIF titles in 1991 and ’92.
The most successful Seaside coach of all time in terms of championships, Mike led the ’92 Seaside 18 Black team to a National Championship at JO’s; and returned to coach the ’97 Seaside 18 Black team to another National Championship at Denver, Colorado. In between this miraculous double, Mike coached the Seaside 18 Black team in ’95 to a 4th place finish at the Nationals. Great players; great coaching.
Mike continued to coach with Seaside until the end of the 1999 season. In ’98, he coached the 18-1 team to a 5th place finish in Dallas, Texas. In ’99, his 18-1 team finished 3rd at the SoCal Classic and 12th at the JO’s in New Orleans. In addition, Mike coached the varsity boys to a CIF Championship at San Dieguito High School in ’97, and, then, in ’98, garnered another CIF Championship with La Costa Canyon High School.
In 2000, Mike joined the very successful Long Beach Club coaching the 15 and 16 year old boys until 2004. Mike also assisted Coach Featherstone with the Grossmont College Men’s team of ’94 that finished 3rd at the State Championships.
Coach Featherstone on Mike Baykal : “ Great coach at getting the top players to play their best, all the time. . . Extremely demanding; very focused. . . Like myself, had a fiery temperament but was always under control and did a solid job managing matches. . .Unintimidated by other top name coaches and clubs, Mike convinced the players they would win and did an outstanding job as a tactical coach in big matches. . .I hated to see him leave, but his full time architect job moved him out of San Diego and he needed to relocate.. . .Mike, Mark, and I achieved uncommon success with the Seaside club early on. . .fortunately, it set the stage for many great years thereafter. . .we were blessed with the best talent San Diego had to offer, but I am indebted to these two guys, particularly, for their commitment and our shared vision. . . Bottom-line : We got it done ! Two Golds (’92, ’97); One Silver (’90); a 4th place (’95); a 7th place (’93), and a 12th place (’94). . all with the Seaside 18 Black team, in the first seven years ! . . Our goal every year : Get the top players, coach ‘em up, and get them to peak when they were seniors. . . And, boy were there some grand players . . .guys like Eric Sullivan, Ala Mikaele, Aaron Hartin, Brian Cremascoli, Bruce Williams, Robert Treahy, Matt Suttie, Mike and Scott Downey, Scott Eide, Richard Lambourne, Reid Priddy, Mat Osburn, Tim Jensen, Josh Lukens, Matt Noonan, Eli Fairfield, Matt Olson, Matt Prosser, Jason Garrow, Joe Gallina, Evan Thatcher, John Engstrom, Matt Davis, Lance Laxson, Bjorn Dahl, Matt Showley, Brandon Vegter, Scott Eide, Conor Frickman, Danny Hughes, and Jeff Bender. . Incredible players. . .incredible years !”
John Hawks: 1994-1998
John joined the Seaside staff in 1994 after playing two years at the libero position for Grossmont College under Coach Featherstone. John was a key player on the ’94 team that finished 3rd at the State Tournament.
In his first year, John coached the 16-1 team to a Bronze Medal (3rd place finish) at the Junior Olympics in Orlando, Florida in 1995. In 1996, John assisted Coach Featherstone with the 18 Black team at the JO’s where they finished 12 th overall in San Jose, California.
In ’97, John was the head coach of the 16-1 team, but was highly instrumental as the third assistant with an extremely talented Seaside 18 Black team that captured the Gold Medal in Denver, Colorado. John’s 16-1 team placed 5th at the Jo’s in Denver at the same national tournament. In addition in ’96, John was the assistant boys coach at Francis Parker High School where they won a CIF title; and then the following year (’97) with Mike Baykal at San Dieguito High School where their boys team won CIF.
In 1998, John moved back to Orange County where he grew up and began coaching with perennial power, Balboa Bay VBC. John coached with Balboa Bay until 2006. John coached numerous Balboa teams to top five finishes during this span. John was hired at Santa Marguerita High School in 1998. He proceeded to win CIF every year until 2001. For his efforts, John was named Orange County Coach of the Year in 2001.
John’s success and background at both the club and high school levels, allowed him to catapult to the Division I Men’s level where he became the men’s assistant at UC Irvine, Long Beach State, and USC. During this span, John was USA Junior National Team Head Coach in 2010 – 2011; and then became an assistant men’s coach at the World University Games shortly thereafter.
At present, John is the Assistant Coach for UCLA Men's Volleyball. Finally, John was a key coach at the first few Seaside Next Level Summer Camps and will always be welcomed back when he can be in San Diego in August.
Coach Featherstone on John Hawks : “I knew from the first day I coached him as a college player that he would someday make a great coach. . .great passion, vocal with his teammates, good command of the game, solid playing ability at his position (libero). . .all the intangibles. . .as it turned out, I was right. . .John had a short stint with Seaside but it was a highly successful one. . .He taught perimeter and floor defense as well as anybody could possibly teach it. . .Tremendous gym coach. . .When I first began to assemble a staff for the Next Level Camps, John was the first guy I wanted to work with the Director, Mark Presho. . .After years of coaching at various DI colleges, the two of them had so much knowledge of the DI game, that it was a slam dunk decision. . .Fortunately, they both were real excited about doing this in San Diego. . .John is now on his way to becoming an extremely successful volleyball coach at numerous levels. . . John’s even-keeled temperament will always be a big plus as it will allow him to cross-over to coach males or females, at virtually every level. . .If we had more men’s college jobs in America, he’d already be there, but I can see him at the DI women’s level, no problem. . . John’s had the opportunity to work with many of the best minds in the men’s college and high school games. . .this should serve him well over the coming years.”
Mark Presho: 1995-2001
The Director of the Seaside Next Level Summer Camp, Mark carries the distinction of being the most accomplished and experienced player the club has ever hired to be part of the coaching staff. He came to Seaside on the recommendation from legendary high school coach, John Herman, from Francis Parker High School. In 1994, Coach Herman told Coach Featherstone : “Someday, when the time is right, I might want to join your staff, but, in the mean time, I just hired this guy from Orange County, with a great playing background, who can really coach as well. . .His name is Mark Presho and he’d like to help out with the Seaside boys. . .Can you find a spot for him ?” Coach Featherstone knew who he was because he had coached against him in the Finals of the Summer Olympic Festival in 1991. Featherstone was the Head Coach of the West team and Presho was the starting opposite on the South team. The match went five games, but Presho dominated the match, and the South team prevailed, winning the Gold Medal. Coach Featherstone welcomed him with open arms.
Mark was an All American at the University of Hawaii in the early ‘90’s and played in three consecutive US Olympic Festival Tournaments from 1990 to ’92. In ’94, Mark was hired at Francis Parker to assist Herman and former Olympian, Eric Sato, with both the boy’s and girl’s teams. In ’95, Mark joined Seaside to coach with one of his old prep school buddies, John Hawks, who came down from Orange County to play for Coach Featherstone at Grossmont College. They both worked together with the Seaside 16-1 team that had the potential to be good. The team started a number of good freshmen players – some from Francis Parker – and, by season’s end , in Orlando, Florida, had matured enough to capture the Bronze Medal (3rd Place) at the Junior Olympics.
Obviously gifted as a top level coaching prospect, Mark was lured away from Francis Parker by Head Coach Marv Dunphy to be the number one assistant at Pepperdine University in 1996 where he remained until ’98.
In ’98, Mark returned to Francis Parker as a full-time instructor and coach as well as to Seaside. Mark assisted longtime successful Seaside Coach Mike Baykal with the 18 Black team that finished 5th in Dallas, Texas. Ironically, all of the Francis Parker players who had originally been with Seaside in ’97, moved over to the San Diego Volleyball Club 18 team to be coached by John Herman and Eric Sato. The SDVBC 18’s under Herman and Sato finished 2nd to a strong Outrigger Hawaii team. Mark coached various teams at Francis Parker until 2005. In 2000 and 2001, Mark was the 17 and then 18-1 coach, respectively, with Seaside, where the 17-1 team finished 5th at the Junior Olympics in Reno, Nevada (2000), and the 18-1 team, 9th place in Phoenix, Arizona (2001).
In 2005, Mark was hired by John Speraw at UC Irvine to be the top assistant. The Anteaters went on a major roll under these two guys winning four NCAA DI Championships from 2005 to 2010. Mark is now working with new UCI coach, Dave Kniffin, and they have already won another NCAA Championship in 2012. Obviously, Mark’s influence has been paramount to UCI’s success.
In 2008, Coach Featherstone adopted the foundation for a San Diego Next Level Volleyball Summer Camp that had been initiated by National Team player Ryan Millar but shelved due to excessive time demands of the US team. Millar gave Seaside the OK to continue to use the name and format of the camp. Coach Featherstone hired coach Presho to be the master coach of the camp, and the camp just finished it’s 6th year in August 2013. Under Presho, the entire Seaside staff, and selected coaches representing other local clubs, high schools, and colleges, the camp has experienced phenomenal success every summer. Mark has continued his great success at club just recently winning a silver medal at the 2014 Junior Nationals with San Clemente 15s.
Coach Featherstone on Mark Presho : “Clearly one of the best indoor players I’ve ever seen in the US, and equally good as a men’s coach. . .If he would have put in the time as a beach player, he would have been top-ranked. . .With the exception of the 16 team in ’95, Mark never had the luxery of coaching really outstanding junior/senior players with Seaside like we had in the early 90’s. . .Still, many of them, Matt Motter, Duncan Budinger, Craig Buell, Ryn Burns, Ben Brockman, James Lischer, Dane Jensen, David Vogel, Jeff Bailey, and others all went on to spectacular major college careers. . .As the Director of the club, I was fortunate to find good players from all over the San Diego County and to attract many top high school coaches, but getting Mark to be part of our staff for the short time he was there, and, to be the ‘maestro’ of our Next Level Camp has been very rewarding . .He’s really good at setting a serious, yet, fun tone to the workings of the camp and he brings solid DI tactics and fundamentals, year in and year out, to the young coaches as well as the players each summer. . . My only beef with him is he left me stranded on the beach at Estero, below Ensenada, at the infamous 2 Man Mex International Tournament in ’98, when I was fortunate to draw him, and we were undefeated and on our way to a possible championship when he pulled out and went home. . .I think he got tired of doing all the setting !”
Matt Osborne: 2002-2009
Matt is a two-time Seaside Hall of Famer, both as a coach and a player. Actually, he is the only Hall of Fame coach to have played for Seaside. Matt was a starter on the ’97 18 Seaside Black team that won the National Championship in Denver, Colorado.
Matt started out assisting Sonny Knight in 2002, with the 16-1 team that finished 5th at the JO’s. From 2003 on, Matt coached numerous teams at different age levels, highlighted by a 2nd place finish at the SoCal Classic as the 17-1 team head coach in 2004; and a 5th place finish as the 16-1 team head coach at the Nationals in Louisville, Kentucky in 2005. Prior to the start of the ’06 season, the club debated whether to play a junior high setting sensation – Tien Le – down, but Matt lobbied to get him to play up on the 15-1 team. The year before (2005), as a 12 year old, Tien led Jim Harrah’s 14 team to a 5th place finish at JO’s. In ’07, Matt led the 16-1 team to a 9th place finish at Jo’s as Tien turned 14 years old. In ’08, he coached the 17-1 team to a 7th place finish at Nationals. Tien was the setter on all those teams and Matt did a great job developing young Tien. Matt finished up coaching at Seaside in 2009 where he spent the entire year helping Coach Featherstone develop new young coaches to work during the transition from the tent in Del Mar to the state-of-the-art, San Diego Volleyball Club facility in Rancho Bernardo.
In addition, Matt assisted Coach Featherstone at Grossmont College where he helped guide the Griffins to the SoCal Regional Playoffs in 2007 and 2008. Rated AAA as a beach player, Matt moved from San Diego to Clearwater, Florida in 2010 to begin a new life and formed his own youth boys and girls club with his girlfriend, Ann.
Coach Featherstone on Matt Osburn : “Matt was as passionate a player as the club ever had. . .he was cocky, athletic, a fiery competitor. . .In the ’97 18 & under JO finals, Matt became the go-to guy about halfway through the match with Nike Santa Cruz. . .He really sparked the team and everyone fed off his energy. . .As a coach, he still had the “fire in the belly”, but he was well-composed and patient with his players. . .He liked to work the sideline when coaching and the thing I really liked about Matt was his competitive nature and the unwavering feeling he always had that his teams would always find a way to win. . .Matt took great pride in developing players that were not necessarily the best players. . . He loved the challenge of going into competition with guys who were just a notch below the best, and finding a way to get them big wins. . .As my assistant at Grossmont, I loved this aspect of his mental make-up. . . Many years, we were outclassed, talent-wise, and we had to find unique ways to stay in matches. Matt was real good at convincing the players they could get it done. . .especially at identifying the weaknesses of the opposing players. . . Along with Sonny, Leo, and Jeff – these loyal, committed, four guys really helped keep our club dominant after the early glory years. . .As a team, they loved working with each other during tournaments and moving from court to court to assist each other. . .It was almost as though all the teams had four coaches with them at some point during the tournaments. . .Their collective enthusiasm was contagious and the players really enjoyed being around these guys. . .On weekends, their enthusiasm for the game was on display in South Mission Beach where they all played some serious beach doubles.”
Leonardo Morales: 2001-2009
Leonardo arrived on the scene in year 1999 and enrolled in Grossmont College. As a 6’1” middle blocker, Leo helped to propel the Griffins to the State Semis two years in a row in ’99 and 2000. Hailing from Brazil, Leo had as much enthusiasm about the sport of volleyball as anybody we’d ever seen. As a player, he was one of the most explosive jumpers Coach Featherstone had ever coached. Ironically, his older brother, Gabriel, played for Seaside in the late 90’s and was selected a Junior Olympic All American for Seaside in 1998. Gabe was a foreign exchange student at La Jolla High School, and, like Leo, was small in stature, but had tremendous ball skills.
Leo began coaching the younger boys at Seaside in 2001 after finishing up at Grossmont. He was assigned to the younger boys for a few years and then was assigned different developmental teams at various levels for five or six years. . . Quite honestly, the hardest club teams to coach are the second teams. Leo never complained about it, and was good at it. Not only are you trying to get the players to overachieve and move up, but you are trying to get more players on the floor for increased playing time. He was great at deflecting criticism from parents, staying focused, and took great pride in coaching the “two team” guys up, year after year. Positive by nature, Leo’s teams were always competitive and the players really enjoyed being around him.
In 2006, Leo did a great job with an average 17-1 team. He led them to a Silver Medal in the Club Division. In 2007, Leo got his big chance with our Seaside 18 Black team. Most of the top returning players left Seaside for the new Encinitas Wave Club, but enough talent stayed with Seaside to form a competitve team. Coach Featherstone started out coaching them in the fall, then turned everything over to Leo for the summer tournaments. He led the team to a 5th place finish at the SoCal Classic, knocking off the #1 seed, Balboa Bay, along the way. The team went on to finish 3rd (Bronze Medal) in the Club Division at the JO’s finishing higher than the ‘all star’ team that defected to the Wave. Sweet revenge.
There was nobody more loyal than Leo. Currently, he is back in his home country, Brazil, working as an assistant with the Men’s National Team, preparing for the next Olympic Games, hosted by- none other than- Brazil. Outstanding on the beach, Leo is back in his element full-time and loving every minute of it.
Coach Featherstone on Leonardo Moraes : “As a college player, he was simply exciting to watch. . . Undersized in the middle, he dominated players across the board that were bigger but none more athletic. . . At Grossmont, we had him commit block a lot and run back slides with a one leg takeoff; he was good; real good. . . technically and tactically, he brought his own style, in a sense. . .His players responded well to his methods – many of them more Brazilian than USA – but who can argue with a country that is certainly more dominant at the international level. . . Passion for volleyball. . . That was Leonardo Moraes. . .I can still hear him calling for the ball – “Give me the BALL; you want to win ?, I need the ball . . .” As a coach, in the gym, his players never left the gym in practice without being worked hard. . .if I was in the gym and he wanted me to bang balls so he could model skills, I never hesitated, especially with the middle blockers and quick attackers . .In practice, he was real good at motivating every player to perform every skill, every night, the correct way, in the gym. . .he would insist on it. . .An overachiever as a player, he instilled that attitude in his junior teams and he took great pride in getting the ‘two team’ guys to play up. . .”
Jim Harrah: 2000-2009
Along with John Herman, Jim was the most successful local high school coach the club ever hired. He coached 28 years at Torrey Pines High School in both girls and boys volleyball in addition to football and track and field. He also had a short three year stint coaching track and field and girl’s varsity volleyball at Medford High School in Oregon.
Both of Jim’s sons- James and Robbie- played for Seaside and Jim spent many years coaching both of them simultaneously, on different teams, while with Seaside. Jim’s success at Torrey Pines with the girl’s varsity program is unprecedented where he won nine CIF titles, four SoCal Regional Titles, and over 20 League Titles. In addition, Jim led Torrey to four State Runnerup finishes. For his merits, Jim was inducted into the San Diego High School Coaching Legends in the class of 2011.
During Jim’s career at Seaside, he coached or assisted other coaches at virtually every level. He was particularly good at the 14 level where both his teams finished 5th at the Nationals in 2004 and 2005. In 2006, he assisted Mat Osburn with the 16-1 team and again with Mat in ’07 with the 17’s that finished 9th at the JO’s.
While Jim was busy coaching at Seaside, he was also coaching club girls at both Coast VBC and Encinitas Wave VBC. His Coast 18-1 team in 2000 won the National Championship. He also coached two other girl’s teams to Bronze finishes, and garnered a 5th place with the 12-1 team (Encinitas Wave) in 2004.
Notable players that Jim coached in Seaside were Jeff Withey (Now in the NBA); Evan Barry (Stanford and Pro Volleyball – Europe); Beau Vandeweghe (Pepperdine); Ian Hendries (Penn State); and Tyler Heap (current starting setter at BYU). Jim’s sons were two years apart, so often he would either coach, or assist, with the teams his sons were playing on.
Coach Featherstone on Jim Harrah : “In spite of the fact that Jim had most of his success at the high school level coaching girls, his maturity in dealing with kids of all ages and both sexes was apparent from the get-go. . . Actually, I assumed for years that Jim was just too busy to coach with our club, but, when he contacted us about putting both his sons into Seaside, I immediately asked him if he would like to coach the young players and he was excited to do that since his boys were both coming to Seaside as 14 year olds. . .It’s hard to coach your own kids without being partial, but Jim did a great job handling all that and the controversy that comes with it. . .At Torrey Pines High School, as a coach, you are really under the “microscope” with the parents, and I knew Jim’s even-tempered demeanor would be a real asset to our club. . .Plus, Jim had spent many years preparing top athletes to compete against the best so he was a great asset to me and assisting the other coaches in scouting our competition, while, at the same time, coaching his own team. . .Used to hard work, Jim would take on as much as I wanted him to and was always very professional at every task. . .Finally, as hard-wired as I am as a coach and administrator, Jim was great at defusing potential problems and I looked to him a lot for support and more objectivity during stressful times.”
Sonny Knight 1996-2006
Sonny played for Coach Featherstone at Grossmont College in 1995 and ’96 after coming over to California from his home state of Texas. Like Leonardo Moraes, he was an undersized middle blocker who was anxious to learn how to play with the boys on the West Coast. He succeeded. He developed into an All Conference player by ’96 and began a long, successful career as an indoor and beach player, and, became a highly competent junior coach as well as a collegiate assistant coach. Sonny spent eleven total years coaching with Seaside. Next to Featherstone, he is the longevity leader.
Innovative as a player, Sonny was equally innovative as a coach. He was another Seaside coach who assisted Coach Featherstone at Grossmont College. He understood the fine intricacies of the game at a young age. He was outstanding at teaching skills and sound playing fundamentals. Tactically, he always had good ideas. He was equally good with players with talent or those players who needed a lot of patient coaching.
At Grossmont, he came along at a good time for coaching, as the team was ‘stacked’ with top players in ’99 and 2000. Both teams finished 3rd at the State Tournament and Sonny had the opportunity to work with some great players –Leonardo Moraes and local standout, Matt Olson being two of them. With Seaside, from ’96 to 2001, Sonny coached many teams at the 15 thru 17 age levels. Coach Featherstone knew that his ability to teach the basics was primary to the developmental aspects of many of the club’s top young players and that it would benefit the players and the club over time.
In 2002, Sonny coached the Seaside 16-1 team to a 5th place finish at the Nationals in Louisville, Kentucky. In ’03, he assisted Jeff Hall with the 16’s again as they won a Bronze Medal at the JO’s in Phoenix, Arizona. In 2004, in Austin, Texas, Sonny did a fantastic job coaching the Seaside 18 Black team to a 3rd place finish, losing in a close semifinal match to eventual champion Southern California Volleyball Club (SCVC). Current NBA star, Chase Budinger, was a sophomore starting outside hitter on that team. Sonny followed this high finish up with a solid 5th place finish at JO’s in 2005 with the 16-1 team again. In ’06, Sonny coached the 14-1 team to a Championship in the Boys Invitational and then a 7th place finish at Nationals.
All toll, Sonny coached 15 Junior Olympic All Americans from Seaside. In addition, he coached the Francis Parker JV boy’s team to a 24-1 record over the 2003-04 seasons.
Sonny is currently coaching young girls and boys on the fine points of being successful in beach doubles. He has been running beach clinics at South Mission Beach since 2011. He is also a certified PADI scuba diving instructor and CPR trainer.
Coach Featherstone on Sonny Knight : “Sonny was the best technical coach in the club for years. . . He would really challenge my knowledge at times, but I always enjoyed talking tactics and technique with my coaches and he was no exception. If he wanted your assistance, he would ask for it. . .But, if you offered to bark out coaching tips to his players while they were playing, he wouldn’t hesitate to call you out on it. . .It was his game and his team and that’s what he preferred. . .As the Director of the club, I would just stay the heck out of the way until the matches were over !. . .Sonny was usually in full command mode and seldom needed anyone’s help anyways unless it was to scout the opponent while the match was unfolding. . . Clearly the most stubborn of all the coaches in the club, Sonny preferred to be unconventional at times, but only if it helped his teams gain a tactical advantage. . . For example, he often had all his players serve short for an entire match, for example; or, he would install his own read blocking system when everyone else was following the USA system. . .On the other hand, Sonny wasn’t afraid to borrow ideas from other coaches, and, eventually he realized he wasn’t the only risk-taker. . .We all did what we had to do at times, when our teams were outclassed or playing bad. . .Occasionally, he would watch what I was doing, in the middle of a match, to change the tempo. . .I had a whole chapter in our coaches manual on things you can try to put your team in position to defeat a superior opponent. . .Sonny liked challenges and he once observed me instructing my blockers to switch often from a standard ‘read system’ to a ‘triple commit system’ and he commented – “ I like that; you’re forcing their setter to recheck the block often and I think it throws off his rhythm. .” My comment back was – “You got it ! . .When the setter hesitates, the game slows down” . . .The bottom-line was : I knew Sonny could coach any team, at any level, and get the players to improve in leaps and bounds from the start of the year to the end. . . He did what he had to do with young boys – whether it was footwork, armwork, eyework, quirky system work; whatever it took to help them gain an edge.”
Tom Shoji: 2006-2008
In 2005, Tom contacted Coach Featherstone about working with Seaside after retiring from DI level women’s volleyball coaching. He had just been hired at UCSD as the men’s assistant, and Tom thought what better way to reach out into the local community and observe SoCal players than to coach junior boys. Seaside was the logical choice because he and Coach Featherstone coached DI women at the same time – 1980 – ’87, and, often competed against each other. Tom was at New Mexico State, and Coach Featherstone was at United States International University (USIU). From there, Tom moved to the Big 10 where he coached at the University of Indiana for over a decade.
Tom wasn’t interested in developing the underclassmen, and, given his coaching experience and expertise, Coach Featherstone immediately put him with the top seniors as the assistant to Seaside veteran coach, Jeff Hall. It was good timing. The Seaside 18 Black team in ’06 was top ranked – the best Seaside 18 team since ’97 – and Tom was just what Jeff needed. . . a supportive, knowledgeable assistant to help get this team, led by California State Athlete of Year, Chase Budinger (La Costa Canyon); and, current Team USA star, Garrett Muagututia (Francis Parker/UCLA), to the top.
After nine years had elapsed since the last National Championship (’97), Coach Featherstone, for obvious reasons, secretly suspected another milestone for the club in 2006. Another talented 18 team was poised to make a run for the gold. This team wasn’t as talented across the board as the ’92 or ’97 teams but it had the two ‘super studs’ and a decent supporting cast. . .Both setters, Tyler Spratt and Alex Scattareggia were outstanding, and they had a libero, Kory Matsukado, who was big time. Current Seaside coach, Garrett Payne, was also on that team and played a lot as a serving/defensive specialist. Talent aside, it was Tom and Jeff who really did a great job putting it all together and getting them to peak in Minneapolis. Seaside 18 Black had to defeat an outstanding Hawaii team in the semis in order to reach the finals. Ironically, Tom’s brother, Dave (UH Women’s Coach) was there to watch and he predicted an Outrigger victory. Dave’s son was the setter. What Dave didn’t know was how well Tom had Hawaii scouted. Seaside won in a tough 3 game match and then went on to defeat a solid group of kids out of the San Fernando Valley (Synergy) coached by Walt Kerr, a UCLA assistant.
In 2007, Coach Hall was hired by UOP as their top men’s assistant and Tom coached the Seaside 17’s. In 2008, he took the 18 group which included Garrett Muagututia’s brother Myles (a two-sport athlete/football/volleyball), Stanford-bound Evan Barry, UCLA-bound Thomas Amberg, Hawaii-bound Gus Tuaniga, Harvard-bound Matt Jones, and UOP-bound Taylor Hughes. The team had high goals but were plagued by injuries the entire year. They were knocked off by eventual champion Balboa Bay in the quarter finals and finished 5th in Sandy, Utah. In 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia, Tom again led the 18 Black team to a 5th place finish. This team was led by Muagututia (Stanford-bound for football); Tyler Heap (BYU-bound); Ian Hendries (Penn State-bound) and Zach Penolio (Park College). Finishing 5th was a reach for this team, but Tom did a nice job coaching them up.
Tom moved on to Willamette College in Oregon to coach DIII women in 2010. He plans to retire in 2015. All toll, he has more college volleyball coaching experience under his belt than any Seaside coach in history, including Coach Featherstone.
Coach Featherstone on Tom Shoji : “Tom brought more cumulative coaching expertise into Seaside than anyone prior to him. . .He was more than a solid tactical and technical coach to the young boys; he was a father figure. . .He taught life lessons as well and approached the junior club game accordingly. . . Winning was nice, but it wasn’t the end all. . .Far more important to Tom was making sure the boys matriculated to the right college and had their eyes on their future life away from volleyball. . . While at UCSD and Seaside, Tom had to learn the men’s game was clearly different than the women’s game but he adapted very quickly. . . He was big on stats, as most DI coaches are, and there were plenty of coaches within the club willing to help him prepare, particularly Osburn, Harrah, and myself. . . Unfortunately, only a few of our Seaside guys – Tien Le, Youssef El Rakabawy, and Dave Shevlin - ended up at UCSD. . .To this day, I’ll never forget the verbal lesson he gave me in 1983 coaching against him. . .I was only in my 3rd season of DI coaching and my USIU team had his New Mexico State team down 2-0 and we’re up big in game three. . . Thinking we had it won, I subbed my setter off, my top middle, and our ace hitter; we lose games 3 and 4, I put the starters back out there, we try to regroup, momentum is gone, and Tom wins in five. . . He turns to me and says : “Next time, just go win the match.” After that, I never subbed being up 2-0 ! .”
Jeff Hall: 1999-2006
Like Presho, Jeff came to Seaside with an impressive resume as both a player and a coach. Coach Featherstone’s Grossmont teams competed against him when he played at Orange Coast College in the early nineties. He was clearly one of the top JC players playing in the premier program. From there, he was UOP’s top offensive player in 1994 and ’95. Jeff also participated in the Olympic Festival for two years (’94, ’95). Prior to coming to Seaside, Jeff coached in the UOP summer camps; with Golden Bear VBC in Norcal; and at Laney College (1997/men & women). In ’99, when he joined Seaside, Jeff was hired at Mission Bay High School to coach both boys and girls. Jeff was also an accomplished beach player competing for four years on the AVP tour.
In 2000, Coach Featherstone hired Jeff to be his main assistant at Grossmont College where he remained until 2005 when he became the second assistant for the UCSD women and then the first assistant for the men at UCSD the following year (2006). At Grossmont, he had an expanded role. His playing and coaching background prepared him to assist Coach Featherstone in practice planning, scouting, film breakdown, physical conditioning, and advanced position training. In his first year, he helped the Griffs reach the state semis for the second year in a row, and from there the program reached the SoCal Regional Playoffs in ’02, ’03, and ’05. Jeff’s presence really helped Coach Featherstone keep the Grossmont men’s program moving forward.
With Seaside early on, Jeff coached 16’s and 17’s while Mark Presho was coaching the 18-1 teams. For seven consecutive years, 2000-2006, every Seaside team Jeff coached finished in the top ten at the Nationals. It went like this : 2000 – 17-1 – 7th; 2001 – 16-1 – 7th; 2002 – 17-1 – 9th; 2003 – 16-1 – 3rd (Bronze Medal); 2004 – 17-1 – 5th; 2005 – 18-1 – 2nd at SoCal and 5th at JO’s; 2006 – 18-1 – National Champions ! A remarkable run !
Jeff was particularly effective at teaching the net game and everything that applied to attacking and blocking. The system that Jeff and Coach Featherstone had in place at Grossmont was easily adapted to fit the abilities of the top high school club players with Seaside as well. When Presho left for Pepperdine, and Hawks moved to Orange County, Jeff, Sonny, Matt, and Leonardo became the key guys. They all did an outstanding job with all the teams and were very loyal to the club. They took great pride in striving to maintain the excellence the club had earned over the years.
This being 2014, Jeff is currently the top assistant at the University of Hawaii and the head Women's Beach coach. He has been in paradise since he left UOP in 2010. The Rainbows have been steadily improving since he arrived there in 2011.
Coach Featherstone on Jeff Hall : “Personally, Jeff was a godsend to me for both my college position and for the club. . . He came along at a time when I needed a guy who could really help fill a lot of roles with both programs. . . Extremely loyal and competent, Jeff really helped me jumpstart my JC program and rebuild the club at the same time. Running a college program, recruiting, and administrating the club became very time consuming for me. Jeff jumped in headfirst, and helped me shoulder the load. . . He, Sonny, Matt, and Leo were close friends and local beach stars as well, and the young kids loved their collective passion for the sport both indoors and out. . .Jeff was the complete package – solid recruiter, great gym coach, honest, good with parents, good role model as a player and person, and a hard worker. . . Plus, I knew he looked at coaching volleyball as a lifelong profession, not just a job. . .There was a lot of pressure on him to win it all in 2006, especially when you had Chase and Garrett on the same team, and, the competition was fierce that year; a lot of really outstanding teams. . . He gambled a little by changing setters at the Nationals, but it proved to be a deciding factor. . . .Actually, he figured out a way to get both Tyler and Alex on the floor and the team still hit for a high percentage. . .As the club director, I was a nervous wreck; after all those years, it was so sweet to win another championship. . .That win put Seaside up into the upper echelon of junior boys volleyball for good. . .As for Jeff’s future, eventually, I think he will become a DI men’s head coach somewhere. . . he’s on his way.”
SEASIDE FOUNDER/FORMER DIRECTOR – FRED FEATHERSTONE: 1990 - 2012
1964/ Founded and coached the first boys volleyball program at Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach, California.
1973-74/ Head Boy’s Volleyball Coach at La Jolla High School. Finished 2nd in CIF in ’74.
1976-77/ Head Men’s Volleyball Coach at Southwestern College. Finished 2nd in the Pacific Coast Conference (PCC) in ’77.
1980-86/ Head Women’s Volleyball Coach at United States International University (USIU) in San Diego. Co-Champs with Pepperdine in the West Coast Athletic Conference (WCAC) in ’86. Qualifier, NCAA DI Tournament in ’86. Lost to University of Hawaii – ranked #1 in nation at the time.
1987-89/ Head Boy’s and Girl’s Coach at both the 16 & 18 under levels with the San Diego Volleyball Club. Helped SDVBC start boys club volleyball in ’87.
1989-2010/ Founded and directed the Seaside Boy’s Volleyball Club in San Diego. Club highlights : US Junior Olympic (USJO) medalist 10 times including four National Championships in the Open Division (1992, ’97, 2006/18 & under; 2011/17 & under). Head Coach of the Seaside 18 & under National Runner-up team (Silver Medal) at JO’s in 1990; and the 3rd place (Bronze Medal 17 & under team in 1999.
2008- Present/ Founder, Co-Director – Seaside Next Level Summer Camp.
1995/ Head Women’s Coach at Grossmont College. Pacific Coast Conference (PCC) Champs. Selected Coach of the Year. Lost to Santa Monica City College in the quarter-finals of the State Tournament, 15-13, in the tiebreaker.
1990- 2011/ Head Men’s Volleyball Coach at Grossmont College. Orange Empire Conference Champs in 2000 and 2011 and conference runner-up in 1992, ’93, ’99, and 2007. Third place finishes at State Tournament in ’94, ’99, 2000. Second place finish at State Tournament in 2011. Lost in tiebreaker, 17-15 to Irvine Valley College. Program registered seven SoCal Regional appearances in ’92, ’93, ’98, 2002, ’03, ’05 and ’07.
Selected Conference Coach of the Year in ’94, ’99, and 2000 and Pacific Coast Athletic Conference All Sports Coach of the Year in 2007.
2010/ Entered the California Community College Men’s Volleyball Hall of Fame.
1991/ Head Men’s Volleyball Coach – West Team – Los Angeles Summer Olympic Festival. Team lost in finals, in five games, to the South Team.
Coached numerous former and present US Olympic players including Erik Sullivan, Richard Lambourne, Reid Priddy, David Lee, Ben Bodipo, and James Hammerstrand and current AVP Beach Stars John Hyden, Matt Olson, and Matt Prosser.
Total cumulative college victories : 340
Three-sport athlete at San Diego State University (football, track and field, volleyball). AA rated beach player and California Master’s Beach Doubles Champion – 2006, ’07.
Coach Featherstone on volleyball : “I have no regrets. . .I was fortunate to grow up four blocks from the ‘Wimbledon’ of beach volleyball – the Manhattan Beach Open. . .I followed my dreams and it allowed me to compete in, and coach volleyball, as a profession that fit my lifestyle and fueled my passion for promoting the game along the way. . . This is what kids do on the west coast. . .Ride waves and spike volleyballs. . .I’m here to push that process along. . .What could be better than that !. . I do know this : I will always be there to support Seaside Boy’s Volleyball for as long as I live. . .it’s in the genes now.”