Conti on his game

Boys' Volleyball

CdM coach leads Sea Kings to their first CIF regional championship after comeback win over Westlake Saturday night.

May 28, 2011|By Steve Virgen,
(Kevin Chang / Daily…)

IRVINE — A short time after guiding his team to a momentous comeback win, Steve Conti was showered with water as he spoke with reporters outside of the Irvine Valley College gym.

Some of Conti's Corona del Mar High boys' volleyball players offered the coach a jacket because it was cold.

"It's OK, don't worry about that," Conti said. The coach wanted to soak it all in.

After coaching his Sea Kings to a 17-25, 25-20, 25-23, 25-20 victory over Westlake Saturday, it was definitely OK to celebrate. With the win, CdM captured its first CIF Southern California Regional championship. This one came in Division II and featured the Sea Kings' big-time response from a first-set loss.

After CdM lost the first set, Conti told his players to be patient. He showed confidence in them and believed they could come back. He had seen them do it earlier in the week in a regional semifinal win over Santa Margarita win. And he had seen them do it against Laguna Beach last week for the CIF Southern Section Division II championship.


That CIF crown gave Conti his fifth section title in 16 seasons with the CdM boys' program. It's the second most in the Southern Section by a boys' coach at one school.

Conti has built a strong boys' volleyball program at CdM with stern leadership that comes with a laid-back feel. During Saturday's match he wore a short-sleeved button shirt and jeans with sneakers.

Players who go through Conti's program rave about his attention to detail and his focus on a hard work ethic.

"He's an absolutely amazing coach," said Scott Slaughter, a former player who recently helped lead UC Santa Barbara to a runner-up finish in the NCAA Tournament. "He's probably the best coach I've ever had. He's strict, but very fair.

"We've kept in touch. He always sent me congratulations in our playoff run. The other day we talked on the phone for about 30 minutes. I still call him 'coach.' He's always looking out for us, his former players. A lot of his former players still keep in touch with him."

Slaughter has finished playing at UCSB. He said he's planning to compete overseas. Conti has been helping Slaughter reach that goal by putting him in touch with people with the international connections, Slaughter said.

Conti remains busy with the boys' team and his family. He turned down the opportunity to coach the girls' team once again at CdM because he wanted to devote more time with his family. The boys' team keeps him busy enough.

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