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Laguna Beach

Start spreading the mews: paws-itive reaction to Cat Café opening in downtown Laguna this summer


Based on reader response to the article in our Friday edition about entrepreneur Gail Landau’s plans to open a cat café in downtown Laguna, there are quite a few people looking forward with great anticipation to visiting her Catmosphere Laguna Café.

Landau is hoping to launch the café this summer. She envisages it as a rare combination of a café atmosphere with an adjacent lounge area where patrons will be able to schmooze (by appointment) with adoptable cats and kittens.

Landau admits, “I am a life-long dedicated cat lady and grew up in the Illinois countryside with many pets and ‘house guest’ animals of every sort.” 

For the last fifteen years, Landau has lived in Laguna Beach with her husband, Dennis Riff. As she relates in her Café’s mission statement, “Laguna Beach has long been known and loved for its artistic community and embrace of nature, in all its forms. Catmosphere Laguna is a café with a twist. 

“Our adjacent lounge is a comfortable and quiet place for cuddling, playing, and getting to know adoptable cats and kittens from local shelters.”

Gail Landau’s daughters came up with the Laguna-inspired logo

“Our environment transitions these homeless cats and kittens to our safe environment before they enter their forever human homes. Our felines are certified healthy and arrive with personalities! 100 percent of the proceeds from adoptions go directly to the care, treatment, and welfare of our cats and kittens. 

“Local Laguna Beach veterinarians will provide for medical care and spaying/neutering. Loving and safe forever homes and happy, healthy cats and kittens are Catmosphere Laguna’s mission.”

Landau gives due credit to Nancy Goodwin and Laura at LB Animal Shelter, who have been very helpful and inspirational during this process.

She adds, “My interest in Cat Cafés peaked this summer when I traveled to Charleston, South Carolina and came upon their Cat Café. I had an epiphany that I could create a fun and unique experience right here in Laguna Beach.” 

And she didn’t waste any time turning this dream into reality.

“Upon returning home, I met with Steve Dicterow, Greg Pfost, and Anthony Viera at City Hall and presented my business plan. I was so inspired that I set out to find the purrfect space and believe I have, at 381 Forest Ave [the former location of Laguna Wine, Coffee & Specialty Foods]. Catmosphere Laguna will occupy Suite 100 A of the build out.” 


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Photo by Lynette Brasfield

Gail Landau to open Catmosphere Café this summer

To bring her concept to fruition, she solicited the help of experts. “I assembled a great team including my attorney, Diana Cimino, and architect Todd Skenderian.” Landau adds, “I would like to acknowledge my consultants, Todd Crone - Web Technology Consultant, Caroline Smile - Restaurant Consultant, and Felicia Kaplan - Digital Marketing Consultant.”

“For 30 years, I practiced law as a litigator and now I have a Mediation & Consulting business. Every other year I served as the managing partner of my law firm, so you most certainly can say I have lots of experience in herding cats!” Landau notes with a smile.

Landau’s ABC documents are all filed, and she is awaiting the receipt of her wine and beer license as these beverages will be available in the Lounge along with the light menu items. The Café will serve delicious fresh toasts, salads, sweets and beverages (catnip tea, coffees, healthy juices and California Wines and Craft Beers). The Café & Lounge will both be open seven days a week from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m., with the last bookable appointment at 5 p.m.

 The Café will also include retail cat themed items as well as Catmosphere Laguna logo caps, tote bags, t-shirts, and more.

Landau stresses that, “Our visitors are free to snack in the Café area and afterwards enter the enclosed Cat Lounge or simply check in with their reservations and go directly into the Cat Lounge.” 

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Submitted photo

Mr. Misaki, Gail’s “Snow Shoe” cat in his spaceship carrier

Just in case anyone is wondering about kitty breakouts, Landau says, “There will be a glass vestibule from the Cat Café into the Lounge to prevent escapes. The kitties will have little doors from the Lounge into their private cat rooms, so they can retreat from the humans when they need to take a break.” 

When asked if she has any cats now, Landau responds, “Currently, I have one very large and very handsome 24 pound “Snow Shoe” cat. His name is Mr. Misaki and I adopted him two years ago from his foster Mom in Laguna Woods after researching Siamese rescues through the Laguna Woods Cat Club. He is my son in every sense!”

Update: Landau will be speaking about her new endeavor and its exciting challenges for The Laguna Woods Cat Club at an open meeting at 1:30 p.m. on Wed, March 14, at Clubhouse 3, the Laguna Woods Performing Arts Center, in the Laguna Woods community. Anyone may attend and the cover charge at the door is $3. Those interested in attending should contact the President of LWCC, Beverly Elwell, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Catmosphere Laguna Café will be located at 381 Forest Ave.

For more information, go to the website and follow the café on FaceBook at Catmosphere Laguna.

Dennis’ Tidbits


February 27, 2018

Local ocean temps at normal levels for this time of year – which means cold – just in time for lifeguard tryouts

Local ocean temps are chillier than they’ve been in three years and are now at normal levels for late February at 55-57, just in time for Laguna Beach Lifeguard tryouts. One year it was 51-53 that weekend. I think it was 1989. There have been a bunch of tryouts with the water at least down there at 55. It’s called going in the water as a man and leaving the water as a little boy.

March is knocking at the door and it’s about the last month with normally some decent rainfall averaging around 2.5 inches. Our wettest Marches have been 10.40 inches in 1983, 9.66 in 1938, 8.02 in 1978, and 7.12 in 1992. There have been two rainless Marches, 1959 and 1997. March’s normal hi-lo air temp is 68-47 with our hottest March day in 1988 with a high of 92. Our coldest March night was 33 in 1976. 

Our normal ocean temp for March is around 56, 57 with our coldest March ocean temp of 50 in 1949 and 1989. Our warmest March ocean temp was 66 in 1997 and in 2014. Then we have Daylight Savings beginning on Sunday, March 11.

Well, folks, the surf is still tiny for the most part with only a smattering of 2-3 ft. short interval NW wind swells. I guess it’s time to begin turning our attention to the Southern Hemisphere swell source. There was a big one in late February of 2014 which lit up the outer reefs at Brooks Street. Southern Hemisphere swells can hit Laguna in any month of the year but their greatest frequency is roughly April - October or so. 

Hopefully the upcoming south swell season will produce so we can write off the flattest winter on record. Last summer wasn’t a banner season at all with only a few pulses from down there. The storms were aplenty but they just didn’t move in the right direction. Same deal with our local Baja swells. There was no shortage of tropical systems down there but they, too moved in an unfavorable direction heading straight to the west and out to sea. The La Nina event is the prime suspect or perp for not cooperating. Hoping for better luck this time around. 

See y’all on Friday, ALOHA!

Annual LB Taste of the Nation Culinary Event for Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry on May 20 at Montage 

On Sunday, May 20, from 2:30 to 7:30 p.m., Montage Laguna Beach will host

the 11th Annual Taste of the Nation Culinary Event to benefit Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry program. 

The annual Laguna Beach Taste of the Nation culinary experience is an event where food lovers enjoy scrumptious bite-sized fare prepared by some of California’s top chefs along with fine wines, craft cocktails, and delectable desserts at a venue overlooking the Pacific at Montage Laguna Beach. There will be a live auction conducted by Dan Dotson of A&E’s Storage Wars. Following the main event, guests will enjoy one-of-a-kind wine tastings, a champagne toast, a parting gift, and mingling with celebrity chefs.

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Submitted photo

Crowd enjoys festivities at Nation Culinary Event

Participating chefs include host chefs Craig Strong and Lee Smith of Studio; Chef Brian Huskey of Tackle Box; local grub shack; Chef Eric Samaniego of Michael’s on Naples Ristorante; entrepreneurial gastronomist Chef Marcel Vigneron, owner of Wolf and Beefsteak; and Chef Bryant Taylor of Chianina Steakhouse.

Cocktails will be provided by Corey Happeny, BarJedi.

Participating wineries include ZD Wines, Serrano Wines, and Distinguished Vineyards & Wine Partners. 

Sponsors include Citi, Sysco, OpenTable, Food Network, Montage, The Duchess on Cambridge, Epstein Becker & Green, Southern California Gas Company, Aqua Panna/S Pellegrino, Orange Coast Magazine, McMonigle Group, BJ’s Restaurants Foundation, Distinguished Vineyards & Wine Partners. 

Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry program was established to end childhood hunger in the US by ensuring kids start the day with a nutritious breakfast, and to teach families the skills of shopping and cooking on a budget. To date, No Kid Hungry and its partners have provided more than 500 million meals. 

Ticket Levels: $250 per person for general admission from 3 to 7:30 p.m.; $275 for VIP admission from 2:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Montage Laguna Beach is located at 30801 Coast Hwy.

For additional information, visit

Barbara’s Column

Conservancy to hear conservation plan proposed by Pacific Marine Mammal Center



Photos by Mary Hurlbut

The highly visible Pacific Marine Mammal Center is a Laguna Canyon landmark, anything going on there is of interest to members of the Laguna Canyon Conservancy. . 

They will certainly be interested in what center Director Keith Matassa and Board Chairman Jeff Meberg have to say about plans for a project that will save water as well as ailing sea mammals. Matassa and Meberg will be the guest speakers at the conservancy’s dinner on Monday at Tivoli Too. 

“We are trying to get all our ducks in a row,” said Matassa said on Wednesday. “This is upwards of a $2 million project. That’s how much we believe in it and in the importance of conserving resources.”

The proposed project will cut water usage at the center to a virtual trickle compared to the current average of 15,000 gallons per day. That adds up to a little shy of five million gallons a year. Sewer discharge would also be reduced and that is worth hearing about. 

Unanimously approved by the council in January, the concept includes a new water treatment system that would save 90 percent of the current usage, according to Matassa.

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Recovering sea lions enjoy their private pool

As proposed to the council, the project includes construction of a 2,000 square-foot concrete pad to support the installation of an ozone building.

“The building is where the machines that clean and treat the water are stored,” explained center public information officer Krysta Higuchi. “The machines can’t be exposed to the elements.”

Sand filters and recovery tanks are also part of the project. The proposal meets the requirements of providing filtered, temperature controlled, ozonated and/or chlorinated fresh water, according to the city staff evaluation of the concept.  

The proposal also includes concrete hardscaping, a walkway behind the facility, a 5,000-gallon isolation tank, storm water conveyance features, deck and walkway drains and a retaining wall. A fence would have to be moved 10 feet into the gravel lot at the north end of one of the two lots on which the facility sits. 

At the Council hearing, Canyon Alliance of Neighborhood Defense Organization President Penny Milne expressed her concern about the aesthetics of the project. She said the design should be as “naturalized” as much as possible, due to the project’s proximity to Laguna Canyon Creek.

“To me, water filtration is beautiful, but we will make it as unobtrusive as possible,” said Matassa.

All costs associated with building, installing and maintaining the system, related improvements and fence relocation would be borne by the center. However, the improvements become the property of the city, which owns both 20612 and 20652 Laguna Canyon Road, Assistant City Manager Krista Johnson said at the hearing.     

The center is moving ahead with the project.

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Visiting hours are clearly demarcated

“We are working on a conditional use permit,” Matassa said. “The engineering study is complete and the geo-tech study was completed this week.” 

The time has come for the public to learn more about the project, Matassa said. He will be available to speak to other groups if requested. 

Those who want to hear what he has to say on Monday, have only until tomorrow to make the required reservations for the dinner meeting. Call Max Brown at (949) 235-8277 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

And why should we care?

For about a half century, the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach has rescued seals and sea lions, tended their wounds, cured their illnesses and celebrated the return of healthy patients to the ocean. 

And it all started with one beached sea lion in 1971. 

A little girl saw a sea lion on the beach and approached lifeguard Jim Stauffer.  

Stauffer hauled the sea lion to a vet for treatment and ended up nursing it back to health. 

It became habitual for other lifeguards to contact Stauffer when a marine mammal fetched up on a beach. Lifeguard John Cunningham began assisting Stauffer. Laguna Canyon Animal Hospital veterinarian Rose Ekeberg provided medicine and medical advice, as well as housing some of the animals at her clinic, according to the center’s published history. 

That trio became known as the Friends of the Sea Lions. They organized the very first shelter for marine animals in California in 1971, a year before the passage of the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972. 

The Department of Fish and Game issued the first permit of its kind that allowed Stauffer to keep ailing animals in his home pool. 

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Pacific Marine Mammal Center, a familiar sight in the Canyon

When the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals moved out of the city-owned barn on Laguna Cyn Road in 1976, Stauffer and Cunningham moved in. 

The renovated barn still serves as the hub of the center’s rehabilitation program. It is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. Admission is free.

Center activities and programs are funded by grants, donations, and proceeds from the annual gala. Swing for the Sea Lions golf tournament is set for March 26 at the Aliso Viejo Country Club.  

For more information contact John Kinney at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Higuchi at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

But wait – There’s more. You will find advance notice of all the fun and interesting stuff for visitors or residents to do in Laguna by reading

Deeply loved Laguna photographer Mike Altishin has passed away, services are on Saturday

Mike Altishin, Laguna Beach photographer and friend, passed away on Sunday. Mike will be remembered for his kind, gentle spirit, his compassion, selflessness, talent, humor, and ability to bring out the very best light and color in those around him.

Submitted photo

Mike’s family invites the community to celebrate the man that touched so many of us – “our best friend, husband and father” – on Saturday, March 3.

Services will be held at McCormick & Son Mortuaries at 1795 Laguna Canyon Road. Internment will immediately follow Saturday’s services at Pacific View Memorial Park in Corona del Mar (3500 Pacific View Drive). A reception in Laguna Beach will follow.

Dennis’ Tidbits


March 2, 2018

Remembering the day the beach was mostly bedrock and boulders

Local ocean surface temps are colder than they have been in quite some time, now hovering in the 54-56 degree range along the entire Orange County coast. The latest readings came out about 3 p.m., Tuesday and could drop even more by week’s end. 

Ol’ Man Winter showed up two months later than he was supposed to as well above normal temps ran the show well into February when a very deep low pressure trough out of Alaska affected the entire Pacific West Coast and it isn’t going anywhere anytime real soon. This Saturday’s Annual Patriot’s Day Parade may be affected to a degree depending on the timing of the next pocket of cold unstable air’s arrival from high northern latitudes. That’s why the water is colder than it’s been in years as several episodes of strong NW winds have invaded the area. 

Snow levels have plummeted as low as 2,000 ft. in the higher terrain. Snow has even been reported at El Cariso Summit at the top of Ortega Highway at elevation 2,666 ft. Normal rainfall to date here in Laguna is at 10.07 inches. Last year’s total as of March1 was at 14.04. Shorts and flops have been replaced by coats and pants, and Heaven forbid, shoes and socks! The upside to all this as surface visibility has been as high as 40 miles. San Clemente Island which is about 54 miles out was even visible one day. It’s still Lake Laguna out there.

Thursday, March 1 marks the 35th anniversary of one of the most dramatic weather days Laguna has ever seen. The year was 1983 and we were smack dab in the middle of arguably the strongest El Nino event of the twentieth century. There was literally just about everything on the weather menu that day. Severe thunderstorms, frequent lightning, driving downpours coming in sideways from SE gales of 40 mph. six reported waterspouts, two of which reached EF-1 status, ping-pong ball size hail, the second lowest barometer reading I’ve documented at 29.15 inches (988.6 millibars ) second only to 29.04 inches (984.4 millibars) in January of 2010. We collected 3.50 inches of rain that day in a span of just 10 hours. 

Before things got ugly around an hour after sunrise, a spectacular double rainbow appeared in the WSW skies with Catalina as a backdrop. That one day rain total was more than we had the entire 2006-07 season! Oh, and the surf! Unrelenting storm waves at 8-12 feet at seven seconds marching in on a ridiculous southeast angle were teaming up with a huge WNW long period ground swell. How do you spell severe beach erosion? There was a six foot high tide at 9:45 that morning. Only the day before you could step onto the sand from the Main Beach Boardwalk. By day’s end on the first, you needed a twelve-foot extension ladder! 

From Hotel Laguna it was strictly bedrock as far as the eye could see. The waves were actually pushing refrigerator size boulders onto the beach at Thalia Street. Where it normally takes about 20-25 minutes to walk on the beach from bird Rock to Brook’s Street it became a rock climbing adventure taking up to an hour! Talk about March roaring in like a lion! The rains kept coming that whole month and we ended up with a total for the month of 10.40 inches, our wettest March on record. WHEW! 

See y’all at the Parade on Saturday if it doesn’t rain. The event has only been rained out a handful of times so the odds are sort of in our favor.


Living and Loving Together: Presentation at UUC celebrates partnership of Charles and Emma Darwin

In 1839, scientist Charles Darwin, an agnostic Unitarian, married Emma Wedgwood, an educated and devout Christian Unitarian. Despite their religious differences, their marriage grew into an ongoing discussion, collaboration, and a deep love; their union produced ten children. 

Finches with different beaks, adapted for different environments, support the theory of evolution – the survival of the best-adapted, aka the fittest

Join Rayna Hamre at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Laguna Beach on Sunday, March 4, at 10:30 a.m., for a look into this unusual, but happy and fruitful marriage. Charles and Emma Darwin have sent us a message through time about hope, joy, living and loving together, and learning from our differences as Unitarian Universalists. 

Rayna Hamre is a candidate for the Unitarian Universalist ministry and is a student at Meadville Lombard Theological School. She is a former Unitarian Universalist Director of Religious Education, teacher, and manager; she currently serves as the Intern Minister at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Anaheim. She and her husband Stephen live in Orange County and are long-time Unitarian Universalists. 

The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship is located at
429 Cypress Drive. Call 949-497-4568 for more information.

Lori Savit, Laguna Beach resident, and her horse, Atticus, named Equestrian Reserve Champions

Laguna Beach resident Lori Savit and her horse Atticus have been named 2017 Second Level Reserve Champions by the San Juan Capistrano Chapter of the California Dressage Society. Atticus and Lori train with United States Dressage Federation Gold Medalist Wilma Blakely at Sycamore Trails Stable.

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Photo by Lia Segerblom

From left: Atticus, Lori Savit, and groom Debbie Wiliams

Dressage is an equestrian sport featured in the Olympics. The International Equestrian Federation defines dressage as “the highest expression of horse training…considered the most artistic of the equestrian sports and can be traced as far back as ancient Greece.”  

 Lori is also the founder of Laguna Beach Horse Lovers and is available to answer any questions LB residents might have about local opportunities to train, ride or watch equestrian events.  

Lori may be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

March 9 deadline is approaching for Festival of Arts Scholarship applications

The deadline to apply for the Festival of Arts scholarship program is quickly approaching. The four-year, highly competitive scholarships are awarded to students who excel in Film, Performing Arts (dance, music and theatre arts- including performance and production), Visual Arts and Writing. 

Applicants may apply for any or all of the four categories, but will only be awarded one scholarship. 

“Students with talents in multiple fields are encouraged to submit an application in more than one category,” said Festival of Arts Board Secretary and Scholarship Chair Pat Kollenda. She continued, “This is an excellent opportunity for students who are considering a career in the arts.”

An applicant must be a graduating high school senior who resides in Laguna Beach or attends Laguna Beach High School. Application deadline is March 9. 

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

FOA grounds, where magic takes place every summer

Auditions and interviews will be scheduled in March and April. Scholarship awards begin at a minimum of $1,000 and can be renewed for a total of four one-year scholarships. Students must reapply each summer for a continuation of scholarship status.

Last year, the Festival of Arts awarded $30,000 to graduating seniors for the 2017 - 2018 academic year. Many scholarship winners pursue successful careers in the arts, and some even return to the Festival as exhibiting artists. In addition to Scholarship Committee Chair Pat Kollenda, committee members include Wayne Baglin, Marge Earl, Kathy Jones and Jacquie Moffett.

For general scholarship information, call Michelle Reindl at (949) 464-4201 or visit the website at

The Festival of Arts is a nonprofit organization that produces the Festival of Arts fine art show and the Pageant of the Masters. Its mission is to support the arts and art education in and about Laguna Beach.

Scholarship applications are now available online at the Festival’s website

Tough, talented Pateadores Girls soccer team wins three major tournaments including Cal S State Cup

The Laguna Beach Pateadores Girls 2005 soccer team’s season ended with a great victory as the girls won the 2018 Cal South State Cup Governor’s Youngers Division (U13) – 40th anniversary edition – after competing with 116 teams. 

This talented team also secured a championship win at the Orange County Tournament of Champions in December 2017, and a League Championship after winning their division during the regular fall season, advancing from Flight 3 to Flight 2 for the 2018 fall season.

 “The Laguna Beach Chapter of the Pateadores has had an incredible run in the last six months, with these three big achievements to their credit,” said Chris Boyd, Dad, Cheerleader & Team Manager. “For a team that is roughly a year and a half old, this is a big deal.”  

In the three weeks of the Cal South State Cup Tournament, the Pateadores team put together the following record: Tournament record, three weekends, nine games, one Championship:  Bracket B, 2 wins (6-1, 6-0), one loss (1-3); Round of 64 win (2-1); Round of 32 win (2-0); Round of 16 (1-0); Quarter-Finals 2-2 tie at the end of regulation and two OT’s, won on PK’s 5-4; Semi-Finals, 1-1 tie at the end of regulation and two OT’s, won on PK’s 4-2; Final Champion with a 1-0 win over the Westside Breakers Girls 2005.

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Photo by Miles Riehle

The Cup was well-earned by the girls

 “What sets this team apart is incredible emotional strength, mental and physical toughness, drive, spirit, work ethic, outstanding coaching, and a wonderful support network of family and friends,” Boyd said.

These players rose through the ranks of the Laguna Beach’s AYSO Program, Region 86, and were all selected and invited to play for the Club due to their skill, drive and potential.  

“Each girl brings something different to the field, and they make up something very special,” Boyd and Dad & team director Mike Thomas agree.

This team is entirely comprised of Laguna Beach girls.

The team is coached by Earl Alexander and Enich Harris (Dad), both of whom come to the Pateadores with extensive and deep experience in the game.  

“The team really couldn’t have done this without Earl and Enich’s leadership, ability to teach the required skills, impart field awareness and knowledge of the game, and support the girls,” said Boyd and Thomas. “The parents, families and friends have also been integral in this team’s success.  

“They regularly traveled from Laguna to support the girls at every game and tournament no matter how far the drive, or inclement the weather – a wonderful group people that provide a source of positive role modeling and encouraging reinforcement from the sidelines.”

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Submitted photo

Top row (L–R):  Coach Enich Harris, Mara Williams, Molly Riehle, Lindsay Martin, Lauren Martin, Julie Van Der Baan, Julianna Franconi-Krychma, Sydney Ford, Coach Earl Alexander

Bottom Row (L-R):  Natalie Boyd, Lola Harris, Alice Mitsuka, Lauren Gardilcic (LG), Macy Draper, Po Andringa, Brooke Shaw, Cadence Peery

Not shown, but there in spirit, Grace Gilchrist

The Laguna Beach Chapter of the Pateadores was established in Summer 2016 by Mike and Andy Thomas. Both are professional coaches and Mike is a teacher at Anneliese’s Schools in the Canyon. Mike and Andy serve as the Directors of this Chapter, and are the genesis of this program in Laguna Beach.

Go to or for more information. 

The Pateodores Club was established in 1989 by Robert (Bob) M. O’Leary, who served as the original Director and Head Coach. This non-profit, 501(c)(3) program focuses on player development, positive role modeling, and exposure to National Championship caliber teams as well as collegiate and professional opportunities.  The Chapters mainly reside within Orange County and the Club has ties to AS Roma, a top tier professional football club based in Rome, Italy.

Pateadores is a Spanish slang term for “kickers.”

Cal South State Soccer Association is a 501c(3) California public benefit corporation and is the official youth and adult state soccer association of the United States Soccer Federation, the United States Youth Soccer, and the United States Adult Soccer Association. 

The organization, with a service area that extends from San Luis Obispo to San Diego, provides rewarding recreational and competitive opportunities for players of all ages, genders and skill levels.

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