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Virgen: Not the type of attention Hirst wants

Virgen’s View

March 25, 2012|By Steve Virgen

If Larry Hirst had it his way, he would not have been interviewed Friday night about the recent Newport Harbor High boys' basketball controversy.

He doesn't enjoy this type of attention. Recently his life has been a whirlwind after finding violent, criminal threats made toward him and his family at his home in Huntington Beach and at Newport Harbor.

"I don't want to incite the people who are furious about it," said Hirst, who stepped down as coach Friday. "I don't want any more controversy on the program. My family has been through enough."

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Hirst, 50, has been coaching for 28 years, 16 at Newport Harbor. He never thought he would retire from coaching like this. Principal Michael Vossen has suspended the boys' basketball program indefinitely because of the threats made toward Hirst and his wife, Sheridan. The Newport Beach and Huntington Beach Police Departments are investigating the threats, Vossen said in an email. Possible suspects include individuals involved with the Newport Harbor boys' basketball program, Vossen said.

The school has a great tradition in athletics, as it is home to five-time Olympic gold medalist swimmer Aaron Peirsol, two-time Olympic gold medalist beach volleyball legend Misty May-Treanor and basketball Hall of Famer George Yardley.

This was not the way Hirst and Newport Harbor wanted to receive more notoriety.

Hirst won't go into detail about the threats because of the investigation.

A report in a March 12 crime log on the Orange County Register's website could be about Hirst, according to an anonymous source. The report about a home in Huntington Beach reads: "A resident reported finding their vehicle's tires deflated and papers with, 'Quit or die,' printed on them left in their yard. The resident said they suspected that vandalism was related to a current controversy at her husband's place of employment."

Ever since, Hirst has been through a wide range of emotions that included the feeling of leaving his job as coach of the boys' basketball team. He remains a physical education teacher at the school, where Sheridan is a business teacher. Hirst is also an assistant coach for the girls' track and field team.

After reporting the information to police and then trying to find resolution through several conversations with his family, Hirst described his feelings as not of anger, disappointment or fear.

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