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Laguna Beach

LBHS girls water polo team defends CIF-SS Division 1 Championship

By Steve Riches

This past Saturday at the Woollett Aquatics Center in Irvine, the Laguna Beach Breakers girls water polo team staged an epic fourth quarter comeback to beat the Foothill Knights 7-6, winning their second consecutive CIF-SS D1 title. The girls have now won five of the last seven CIF-SS D1 water polo titles.

The game began with a defensive battle, with the Breakers down 0-1 at the end of the first quarter with three saves by freshman goalie Lauren Schneider. In the second quarter, the Breakers fought back with goals from UCLA-bound senior Morgan Van Alphen and junior left-hander Emma Lineback. 

LBHS girls water polo champs

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2020 CIF-SS D1 Champions

Going into the third quarter the Knights were still up by two goals. Despite goals by Van Alphen and junior Jessie Rose, the Breakers struggled to bridge the two-goal gap. 

The fourth quarter started with the breakers down 4-6. Then a drawn exclusion and a drawn penalty by junior Nicole Struss enabled two more goals for Lineback and the Breakers finally tied the score 6-6. A steal from goalie Schneider sparked the game-winning goal by Lineback, on an assist from Struss, for the 7-6 final score.

Today the Breakers play the La Jolla Vikings at Segerstrom HS in the first round of the CIF Regional Championships, at 4:20 p.m.

Game stats: Emma Lineback - 4 goals, 1 steal, 1 field block; Morgan Van Alphen - 2 goals, 1 assist; Jessie Rose 1 goal; Nicole Struss - 2 assists, 1 steal, 4 drawn exclusions, 1 drawn penalty; Molly Renner 2 assists, 1 steal; Rachael Carver - 1 assist, 2 steals; Imani Clemons - 1 drawn exclusion; Lauren Schneider - 8 saves, 1 steal.

Laguna Beach Girls Water Polo: CIF Division One Champions

Laguna Beach Girls Water Polo

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Photo by @lagunabernadoodle Instagram

Congrats to the Laguna Beach HS Girls Water Polo team for winning the CIF Division One Championship on Saturday! The girls rallied to defeat Foothill in a 7-6 victory. The team will now take on La Jolla at Segerstrom High School in the State CIF SoCal Regionals on Friday at 4:20 p.m. Go Beach!

Girls basketball registration now open at Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach

Girls basketball registration is now open at the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach. Registration includes practices, competitive league games, and a uniform. 

Boys & Girls Club Athletic Coordinator Erik Vasquez has an outstanding reputation among both Club kids and parents for making this league a great experience for everyone involved. 

From kindergarten through 9th grade, participants will learn basketball skills, enhance their self-esteem, and have a great time being part of a team.

Girls basketball team

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Registration for girls basketball at Boys & Girls Club is now open

 Skills Checks will take place the week of March 9. Pre-season camps will be offered the week March 16 and official practices begin Marth 30. 

To register, go to; log in and sign up through February 28.

For more information, contact Erik Vasquez at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit

Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach is also actively recruiting both boys and girls volunteer basketball coaches and seeking corporate sponsorships for the year. For more information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit

LBHS girls’ basketball team shows promise: some great individual performances this year

By Coach Matt Tietz

LBHS girls’ basketball has wrapped up for the season. Coach Tietz reports:

“The team went 10-18 this season. It was a bit disappointing, but injuries, illnesses, and absences took their toll. Varsity players missed a combined 28 games this season. We struggled early and lost some games we should have won.

“After winter break, we were at full strength and started making some real progress. When we got to our tough league schedule we started showing some real promise. Although we have never won a league game and usually our average margin of defeat is 30+ points, we showed stretches within games that we can be competitive. 

LBHS girls matt

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Coach Matt Tietz with members of the team

“Then in our second to last game of the season against Newport Harbor, we traded the lead often and had a chance to win in the closing seconds only to fall short 37-41. The last game of the year was against Marina where we again were competitive throughout the game and had a lead late but ultimately fell 45-52.

“Individually, we had some great performances this year. Madi Garwal again broke her own school single-season rebounding record with 316 rebounds. That brought her career total to 917 rebounds, which is a LBHS girls basketball record as well. Also in the record books is Julia Henry with 243 career blocked shots. Kenna Rudolph tied Anna Cheng’s record for most three-point baskets by a freshman with 56. 

LBHS girls playing

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Girls basketball team in action

“For the season, our scoring leaders were: sophomore Anna Cheng - 8.5 ppg, freshman Kenna Rudolph - 7.7 ppg, and freshman Sophie Marriner - 7.1 ppg. The rebounding leaders were senior Madi Garwal - 12.6 rpg, Sophie Marriner - 11.7 rpg, and Senior Julia Henry - 6.7 rpg.  The assist leaders were Madi Garwal - 2.9 apg, freshman Sabrina Yang - 1.6 apg and Anna Cheng - 0.9 apg.

“For the first time the program fielded a full-time junior varsity/frosh-soph team. The team went 6-12 (six losses by seven points or less), which is unheard of for a first-year program as they played against schools that have had those levels for years. The team was led by captains Sophia Seidensticker, Laila Hassan, and Brisa Campos, who all spent some time on varsity this season as well.

“The leading scorers were Laila Hassan with 87 points, Brisa Campos with 65 points, and Laura Mandala with 58 points. The team benefited from strong rebounding from Sarah Balian and Miella Caouette. Grace Clark-Alexander (niece of alum great Brittany Clark) improved and showed promise at the point guard position.

“On to next year!”

Breakers Girls Youth Basketball spring clinic is open for applications

The Breakers Girls Youth Basketball spring clinic, taking place March 3 through May 28, is a great opportunity for girls to improve their skill level and strengthen their love of the game. Sessions will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 - 7 p.m.; the clinic is open to all girls from first to eighth grade, no matter their skill level.

Coached by the LBHS girls basketball coaching staff, the clinic will focus heavily on the fundamentals of shooting, dribbling, passing, rebounding, and defense. 

Breakers girls twosome

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Coaches Matt and Brianna Tietz

“We as coaches have a vested interest in the girls’ improvement,” says coach Matt Tietz. “We hope one day to be coaching them at the high school level and we will do everything we can to make sure they want to play and are ready to compete.”

The coaching staff will explain the basic rules of the game and how they apply to the fundamental skills the participants are learning. The goal is then to build on the proper core mechanics and teach advanced skills.

Coaches will also teach concepts and strategies to improve the girls’ understanding of the game. They’ll also run drills that strengthen what has been taught, along with organizing competitions, scrimmages, and games that put skills to practical use.

Tietz notes that the fee of $100 is a great deal for 26 hours of professional coaching.

To sign up and pay, click here or email your interest/registration to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and pay by check at the first day of the clinic.

LBUSD Board of Education announces new TOW Principal

At the February 13 regular meeting of the Laguna Beach Unified School District Board of Education, the board took action to approve the appointment of Dr. Julie Hatchel as Principal of Top of the World Elementary School (TOW) effective April 20. 

Dr. Hatchel replaces Michael Conlon, who was promoted to the position of Director of Human Resources in September. She was selected from a candidate pool in a competitive process that included input and participation from the TOW staff and community. 

LBUSD Board Julie

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Dr. Julie Hatchel announced as new TOW Principal

Dr. Hatchel has more than 20 years of experience as an educational administrator, currently serving as Principal at Deerfield Elementary School in Irvine. She holds a doctorate in education leadership from California State University, Fullerton and a proven track record of furthering student success and well-being through collaboration with teachers, staff, students, and families. 

“Through the screening and interview process, Dr. Hatchel demonstrated that she is a dedicated, reflective, and collaborative leader,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jason Viloria. “We are excited to have her bring her diverse experiences and leadership skills to our district, where I know she will continue to work with the school community to support student achievement,” he stated.

Dr. Hatchel was one of 16 candidates selected from the pool of applicants to participate in the initial interview process. Six candidates were selected to move forward to the next round and were interviewed separately by two stakeholder panels consisting of parents, teachers, support staff, and administrators. From that group of candidates, three were selected to move on to the final interview panel with the Superintendent and other District administrators. 

“I am honored and excited to join the team at Top of the World Elementary,” said Dr. Hatchel. She continued, “I look forward to supporting the important work of the staff and community in continuing to provide an outstanding education for our students.”

The District will host a meet and greet event for the TOW community to meet Dr. Hatchel in April.

LBHS boys basketball defeats Ocean View, advances to 2nd round of CIF playoffs tonight

Boys basketball

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Photo by Ali Rounaghi

LBHS boys basketball defeated Ocean View on Wednesday in the first round of the CIF Division 3AA playoffs, 64-46. The Breakers, led by 6-foot-7 junior Nolan Naess, who scored 29 points on the game, will take on Hart Hill School tonight at 7 p.m. on the road in the second round of the playoffs.

Laguna Beach Unified School District presents Dr. Marc Brackett on March 12

On Thursday, March 12, the Laguna Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) invites the community to “LBUSD Presents: Dr. Marc Brackett” at the Laguna Beach High School Artists Theatre. 

The parent education event will feature a keynote presentation from Dr. Marc Brackett, Founding Director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and author of Permission to Feel: Unlocking the Power of Emotions to Help Our Kids, Ourselves, and Our Society Thrive.

Laguna Beach Brackett

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Dr. Marc Brackett to speak at LBHS on March 12 

In his twenty-five years as an emotion scientist, Brackett has focused on the role of emotions and emotional intelligence in learning, decision making, creativity, relationships, health, and performance. Research shows that American youths have stress levels that surpass those of adults. 

Brackett’s presentation to LBUSD families will focus on strategies and skills for understanding and mastering emotions so that they help, rather than hinder our success and well-being. 

“A critical foundation for student health and well-being requires all of us to understand and leverage the power of emotional and social skills to support students to thrive in school and in life,” said LBUSD Director of Social Emotional Support Dr. Michael Keller. “Dr. Brackett is at the cutting edge of science and intervention and we are excited to have him share tools and strategies to enhance students’ emotional intelligence,” he concluded. 

Laguna Beach cover

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“Permission to Feel” by Dr. Marc Brackett

One of the pillars of Brackett’s approach is the necessary collaboration that comes from parents, students, teachers, and leaders in prioritizing emotion in their conversations and behaviors.

“LBUSD Presents: Dr. Marc Brackett” will take place from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at 625 Park Ave in Laguna Beach. Light refreshments will be served beginning at 5:30 p.m. and the presentation will begin at 6 p.m. Childcare will be available for children in grades TK-5. To reserve your seat, and to learn more about this upcoming event, visit

Rangers FC takes youngest pro, Laguna native Francis Jacobs, with them to defend Alkass Cup

The Rangers FC professional soccer club will take the youngest professional player in the history of U.S. soccer, Laguna native Francis Jacobs, with them to Doha later this year when the club’s under-16s defend the Alkass Cup they won in 2019. Doha is the capital and most populous city of the State of Qatar. 

Jacob’s mother Cindy Jacobs says, “What an incredible opportunity Francis has been given by Orange County Soccer. They have invested so much in his career already. This trip with the Glasgow Rangers to play in a tournament in Qatar against other top teams from around the world is a dream for him, and we are so proud. I cannot wait to watch him having fun and doing what he loves to do.”

In August of 2019, Orange County Soccer Club announced the signing of 14-year-old soccer standout Jacobs, who became the youngest male to sign a professional contract in United States soccer history after inking his deal at 14 years, 4 months, and 29 days. 

The next youngest player was Freddy Adu, who was 14 years, 5 months, and 16 days old when he signed with Major League Soccer and D.C. United in November 2003. 

Rangers take signing

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Francis Jacobs signs professional soccer contract in 2019, becoming youngest professional soccer player in U.S. history

The Laguna Beach native joined amidst interest from multiple European clubs and made his historic first appearance in August 2019 against Las Vegas Lights FC.

Jacobs, who was one of three players to travel to Scotland for a training stint with the Light Blues, will be part of the group defending the Alkass trophy, Orange County SC has confirmed. 

Jacobs joined OCSC in 2019, following a successful stint with the Irvine Strikers, where his performances earned him national team call-ups with both the United States U-14 National Team and, most recently, as a participant in the 2018 U.S. Junior National Team camp. Jacobs had training stints with Bundesliga clubs Cologne and Bayer Leverkusen in Germany, but the option of staying close to home made joining OCSC the right step for the player and his family.

Rangers take playing

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Francis Jacobs battling it out on the field

Jacobs followed in the footsteps of Orange County SC teammate Aaron Cervantes, who signed his first professional contract at 15 years old prior to the 2018 USL Championship season. In 2019, Cervantes became a regular in goal for OCSC, recording eight appearances and two shutouts while splitting time with the United States U-17 National Team.

Age didn’t seem to be a barrier to success with goalkeeper Cervantes, who signed in 2018 and went on to make 14 appearances so far through August of 2019. 

Already standing at almost six-feet tall, Jacob’s impressive physicality can see him mistaken for someone much older and the American looks to have a massive future ahead of him.

Despite hailing from Laguna Beach, Jacobs holds a British passport, which would make signing the teenage prodigy much easier for the Light Blues.

LBUSD Board of Education recognizes exemplary students and staff

Last week’s LBUSD Board of Education meeting was a recognition event celebrating the district’s exemplary students and staff.

The board recognized 2019 CIF Southern Section Doubles Tennis Champions Sarah MacCallum and Ella Pachl. The duo beat Beckman’s Victoria Aguirre and Kiki Nguyen 6-1, 6-3 to win at Seal Beach Tennis Center. 

LBUSD Board tennis

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2019 CIF Southern Section Double Tennis Champions Sarah MacCallum and Ella Pachl (left)

The board recognized Laguna Beach High School senior Logan Brooks and junior Mateo Bianchi for an outstanding 2019 cross country season. 

Logan Brooks was named League Champion (1st team All-League), All-CIF (15th place at CIF Finals), All-State (3rd place at State), First Team Orange County, and he set a 5K record for Laguna Beach High School at 15:24.7. 

Mateo Banchi was named League Runner Up (1st team All-League), All-CIF (2nd place at CIF Finals), All-State (10th place at State), First Team Orange County, and he set a junior three-mile record for Laguna Beach High School at 14:43.3.

LBUSD Board awards

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LBHS senior Logan Brooks and junior Mateo Bianchi (middle)

For Girls Cross Country, the board recognized LBHS junior Jessie Rose, who was named League Champion All-CIF (8th place at CIF Finals), All-State (8th place at State), set a 5K School Record (18:12), and a junior 3-mile record (18:00). 

Senior Morgan Falkowski was also recognized for her accomplishments. In the 2019 season, she was a member of the 1st Team All-League and named to the All-CIF list (5th place at CIF Finals). 

LBUSD Board Morgan

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LBHS senior Morgan Falkowski (middle)

On November 14, Laguna Beach High School Sophomore Gavin Pike was at Thalia Street Beach waiting to be picked up after school when he noticed a woman and her son caught in a riptide. 

Having just completed training with the Laguna Beach Lifeguards in a pilot program on lifesaving techniques and how to spot dangerous ocean conditions the week prior, Gavin jumped into the water and saved them. The board recognized Gavin at the January 28 meeting for Exemplary Service. 

The Annual Kids Paint Out is one of the elements of the Annual Laguna Beach Plein Air Painting Invitational. Eight students from Laguna Beach Unified School District are invited to come outdoors for a plein air painting experience with a professional artist that mentors students in the creation of a plein air painting from start to finish. All LBUSD 4th-graders participate in The Plein Air Project.

LBUSD Board Plein

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Laguna Plein Air Painting Invitational participants recongized

The Reflections Art Program was established by the California State PTA in an effort to increase community awareness of the importance of arts in education. The theme for the 2019-2020 Reflections Art Program was “Look Within.” Winners selected by the Laguna Beach Council of PTAs were recognized at the January 28 Board Meeting. 

LBUSD Board group

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Reflections Art Program winners 

The board recognized the 2020 LBUSD Classified Employee of the Year Division Winners: Liz Drudy, Child Nutrition; Gary German, Maintenance & Operations; Megan Weinert, Support Services & Security; and Robin Lux, Paraeducator & Instructional Assistant. 

LBUSD Board winners

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2020 Classified division winner Gary Ferman (center)

The board recognized the 2020 Classified Employee of the Year, Laguna Beach High School Administrative Assistant Durinda Klein. 

The board recognized the 2020 LBUSD Teacher of the Year, El Morro Elementary School 3rd-grade teacher Tamara Wong.

LBUSD Board teacher

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Tamara Wong, 2020 LBUSD Teacher of the Year

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