All in the family at Pilot Cup

Whittakers play key roles at Killybrooke, where father is coach, mother is liaison and daughter is player.

May 25, 2013|By Steve Virgen
  • Daily Pilot Cup Coach Steve Whittaker, right, for the girls' fifth- and sixth-grade silver team at Killybrooke Elementary, poses for a photo with his daughter Lani, 10, center, one of his players, and wife Barbara, the school's liaison for the Pilot Cup.
Daily Pilot Cup Coach Steve Whittaker, right, for the… (KEVIN CHANG, Daily…)

Steve Whittaker tries to make sure he doesn't shout too loud when he coaches his 10-year-old daughter, Lani.

He wants her to be the best and play her hardest in soccer. But he says he doesn't want to be one of those dads who works his kid too hard.

Whittaker does his best to balance tough and sweet. He admits he has a strong passion for coaching. He loves the game. He loves the sport.

His passion carries into his work, his family and the city of Costa Mesa. It has all meshed for the Daily Pilot Cup, the youth soccer tournament that is in its 14th year. Schedules and scores will be updated throughout the week at

The Pilot Cup begins Tuesday in Costa Mesa, where hundreds of children will take over the fields at the Jack Hammett Sports Complex, Costa Mesa High and Davis Elementary.


Whittaker, a sharpshooter in his day for the Costa Mesa High boys' basketball team, is the coach of the Killybrooke girls' fifth- and sixth-grade silver division team. Lani is on the team. Whittaker's wife, Barbara, the former Trejo, was known as a hardworking point guard for the Mustangs.

But now husband and wife are all about soccer, especially this upcoming week. Barbara is the school's liaison for the Pilot Cup. She helped organize coaches and teams for Killybrooke leading up to the tournament, which has become an important school-year-end treat for the Newport-Mesa community's children.

"I've been very passionate about coaching," Whittaker said. "I had been wanting to coach in the Pilot Cup. The job I have now gives me the freedom to coach. And it helps me to encourage the kids to go and compete."

Killybrooke is a special place for the Whittakers, as is Costa Mesa. Steve and Barbara first met at Killybrooke, where they attended.

They were also classmates at Costa Mesa Middle School and Costa Mesa High. They were in the same circle of friends because they played basketball for the Mustangs. But it wasn't until they were in the same class at Orange Coast College when they started dating.

Steve saw the girl that would become his wife when he saw her in Steve Spencer's basketball class at OCC.

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