By Connie and Lynn Baer
Since 1920, Grossmont High School (GHS) sports teams have had wonderful success. Two of the more recent — in the last 50 years — teams are boys and girls water polo.
Boys water polo
The GHS boys water polo first competed in 1971. The next year, first-year coach Chris Morrissey’s 1972 team made it to the San Diego County CIF Finals, losing to Fallbrook. During the next 12 years, from 1972 to 1983, Coach Morrissey’s teams had amazing success, despite the fact that GHS did not have an on-campus pool until 1978; the team practiced at Gillespie Pool in El Cajon.
The 1973 and 1974 teams were Grossmont League Champions, and in 1982 after defeating Coronado in the title game, the team became San Diego CIF Champions. That year, the CIF player of the year was Ron Blazovic, with teammate Scott Koppang named to First Team All-County and Coach Morrissey named the San Diego County Coach of the Year.
Today, Coach Morrissey recalls 1982 as “the high point” of his career.
“The Blazovic brothers Ron and Mike, Doug Sherburn, Scott Koppang, and Paul Newman, were standouts,” he said. “My assistant coach Craig Smith was a GHS graduate. Great memories!”
In the 1990s, Coach Don Thompson led his teams to five consecutive league championships in 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, and 1999, with the 1996 team also winning the San Diego CIF championship game 7-5, again defeating Coronado.
Current coach Clint McLaughlin, who began 10 years ago in 2008, has had extremely successful teams. His teams have won league titles in 2012, 2014, and most recently in 2015 won the Hills League. In 2014 and 2015, the teams made it to the Open Division CIF Semifinals.
“This is my 10th year coaching at Grossmont. I really enjoy the community that has been created at Grossmont,” Coach McLaughlin said. “There is such a close family feel to the school and the water polo program; it makes coaching and working with the students really fun.”
Girls water polo
Girls water polo first appeared as a team in 1991; however, before then, photographs of girls playing on the boys teams appear in the yearbooks. In 1983, Pam Huffman, Class of 1984, was the varsity boys team goalie.
Michelle Miller, Class of 1988, recalls her Title IX moment.
“During my senior year, I made the boys varsity team,” she said. “If I didn’t get any playing time during the varsity game, I dropped down and played in the afternoon JV game.”
For six years, from 2008–2015, Marcy Wilson McLaughlin was the girls head coach and is now an assistant boys coach to her husband Clint, whom she met on the pool deck 11 years ago.
“Helping these young student-athletes learn to become stronger, more dependable individuals from their experiences together continues to give me energy as a teacher and coach,” she said. “Once you become a part of our water polo program, you become a part of a family that will support each other for life.”
During the past 26 years, the girls’ teams have won seven league championships: 1998, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, and, most recently, 2017.
Last year’s girls team won the Valley League with teammates Renee Resich and Shayla Piccini named to the First Team All-League; the team also made it to CIF quarterfinals for the first time.
“I like the family feeling that has been created here,” said today’s third year girls coach Danielle Cook. “I enjoy how the alumni come back to coach and to help build a great reputation.”
If you would like to support the water polo teams, their eighth annual Christmas Tree and Wreath fundraiser begins now. Please contact Marcy for more information at email@example.com.
Foothillers past and present have much to celebrate in the achievements of their athletic teams, such as water polo. To learn more about GHS, visit our website at foothillerfoundation.com or visit the GHS Museum Wednesday, Nov. 1 from noon–3:30 p.m. or Friday, Nov. 17, from 9 a.m.–12:30 p.m. or by appointment.
— Connie and Lynn Baer write on behalf of the Grossmont High School Museum. Reach them at 619-668-6140 or firstname.lastname@example.org.