Mira Costa girls volleyball coach Lisa Zimmerman is stepping down after seven seasons at the helm. Photo Ray Vidal
Lisa Zimmerman knew the time was right for a change. The head coach of the perennial power Mira Costa girls volleyball program stepped down from her position Friday to spend more time with her family.
After seven seasons at the helm of arguably the most storied girls volleyball program in the nation, Zimmerman said she wants to take a break from volleyball and focus on her two daughters – 8-year-old Ella and 6-year-old Abby.
“I did what I needed to do,” Zimmerman said. “I want to take a year off to see what it’s like with no volleyball.”
Zimmerman said she has been on a year-round volleyball schedule since she played for Mira Costa in the 1980s. She was a four-year starter at UC Berkeley and a two-time All-PAC 10 player before becoming a standout player on the professional beach volleyball circuit where she won more than 20 tournaments.
She returned to Mira Costa serving as an assistant coach for more than 15 years under the legendary DaeLea Aldrich. In 2007, Zimmerman took over the head coaching position and led the Mustangs to CIF, State and National Championships while winning an unprecedented 37 consecutive matches.
Zimmerman recorded an impressive 174-57 record, a .753 winning percentage, during her tenure as head coach and had 27 players advance to compete on the collegiate level. She is equally as proud of how her undersized team performed this season.
The Mustangs reached the quarterfinals in the CIF Southern Section Division 1AA, giving Los Alamitos it toughest match in its run to a CIF championship.
“It’s fun to go out this way,” Zimmerman said. “We maximized the athletic ability of the players. They’re the hardest working and a tight team unit, which is rare these days because there is always another team to go to in a month or two. They really bought in to the team concept and they did it themselves.”
Lisa Zimmerman, right, holds that 2007 CIF State Championship trophy while being congratulated by her predecessor, DaeLea Aldrich. Photo by Ray Vidal
Zimmerman said she addressed the returning players who were sad, yet understanding about her decision.
“I told them they had learned enough and now know what it takes to have success,” Zimmerman added.
Zimmerman’s successor will inherit a strong nucleus from this year’s squad that had only three seniors on its roster. Zimmerman noted that tryouts for next year’s team will be highly competitive with players from strong freshman and junior varsity teams coming into the mix.
She wants to see the strong tradition of girls volleyball continue at Mira Costa. The school has won 15 CIF championships, eight state titles and four national championships.
Assistant coach Michelle Moriarty-Lonergan appears to be a frontrunner for the head coaching position, but Zimmerman said there are a number of former Mira Costa players in the area who will be available.
“I haven’t spoke with administration yet,” Zimmerman said. “But I would offer my opinion if asked.”
Zimmerman is looking forward to being home each day after her daughters get out of school. She said both girls enjoy sports and play soccer, softball and run in local events.
“Volleyball will wait until they’re a little older,” Zimmerman said. “But I look forward to coaching them someday.” It wouldn’t be a surprise that in a few years, Ella and Abby are walking in their mother’s footsteps – either in the sand on South Bay beaches or on the court of Fisher Gym.