Mike Molina understands what it's like to have a new boys' basketball coach. He played for four head coaches in four seasons at Costa Mesa High.
The Mustangs won't have to go through a fourth coach in as many seasons because of Molina. Costa Mesa named Molina the permanent boys' basketball coach after he served as the interim coach last season.
In his debut season, Molina, a 23-year-old, led the Mustangs to 19 overall wins, tying the program's single-season record.
"It's really humbling and it's really a blessing," Molina said of getting the chance to coach at his alma mater again. "It's not about me. It's about how well these kids do. I'm doing my best to represent the program."
Molina thanked the school's outgoing principal, Phil D'Agostino, for taking the interim tag off before D'Agostino left Costa Mesa for a high-level job with the Newport-Mesa Unified School District.
Molina, a walk-on coach, made the most of his first season in charge. The Mustangs went on to place second in the Orange Coast League at 7-3 and qualify for the CIF Southern Section Division 4AA playoffs.
The runner-up finish in league marked the program's first since the 2008-09 season. Molina was a big reason for the Mustangs' second-place finish back then as a senior guard, and for their latest showing as their young leader.
"Stability is the key," said Molina, adding that he plans to stick around Costa Mesa as long as he can, along with his assistants, Brian Molina, Tony Krikorian, Phil Weber, Adam Gardner and Frank Albers. "We had a very successful year by going 19-9. Danny [Krikorian, the previous coach], he did a good job of running the program, making it easy for me to take over.
"We're losing five key seniors [Sean Comer, Kyle Hefner, Daniel Azurin, Quinton Bell and Oronde Crenshaw], so next season will be interesting. But we'll be ready for the challenge."
— David Carrillo Peñaloza