May 24, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Retirement doesn’t last long for Kurt Westling, who joins Crean Lutheran football staff

Former Aliso Niguel Coach Kurt Westling has joined Crean Lutheran as an assistant coach. (File photo: Fernando M. Donado, For OC Sports Zone)

Long-time Orange County high school football coach Kurt Westling isn’t retiring after all.

Westling stepped down as Aliso Niguel’s head football coach after 10 years at the end of the season. But in April it was announced he was joining the staff at Crean Lutheran High School led by first-year coach Saints head football coach Rick Curtis.

“I really respect and like Rick Curtis so I’m looking forward to working with him,” Westling said. “He’s developed a great group of young guys who are knowledgeable and very enthusiastic about football so I think that will be a lot of fun. And I think it will be a wonderful experience teaching and coaching at a Christian school.”

Westling, 62, said he left Aliso Niguel with fond memories, but the time was right to step down.

“I really enjoyed being on the field and in the classroom,” he said. “So I knew it was time financially to leave public education. But I was going to try to continue to teach because I still think I have a couple good years left in me.”

At Aliso Niguel, he was able to coach his son quarterback Drew Westling, who led Orange County in passing in 2004. Westling was the offensive coordinator while his son was on the varsity. He held the same position when Aliso Niguel won the CIF Division VIII title going undefeated in 1996.

“Going undefeated and winning CIF was a big highlight and coaching my oldest son was a big highlight,” he said. “It was great, we were very good and he led the county so that was a wonderful, enjoyable thing as a dad and a coach.”

There were also many “little personal highlights,” dealing with players.

Westling decided five years ago that he would retire from Aliso Niguel setting the stage for the new coach to take over.

“The last few years we’ve been grooming the new coach Mike Calahan who played at Aliso and played in college and has been coaching at Aliso since he graduated from college to take over,” Westling said. “We kind of did a mentor thing to have a process where hopefully the school stays successful.”

At Crean Lutheran, Westling will help out with special teams and coach the quarterbacks. Westling, 62, will also teach mathematics.

He brings some excellent credentials and according to Curtis, he has coached three quarterbacks in the past eight years who have passed for more than 3,000 yards, includiing Kyle Kyckelhahn, who passed for 3,058 yards and 27 touchdowns last season for the Wolverines, who were 8-4.

At Crean Lutheran, Westling will be coaching 6-3 junior quarterback Brody Jones, who had 1,494 passing yards and completed 60 percent of his passes last season.

Westling looks forward to meeting with Curtis and the other coaches in person. Like other coaches, it’s been a challenge for Westling since school is not in session because of the coronavirus crisis and there are no practice sessions.

“It’s lot of Zoom meetings, and all the coaches are in the same boat,” he said. “It will be a little tough for the kids because it’s a brand new offense and defense they’re going to learn and we will see when football gets started. Everybody is kind of chomping on the bit to get it going.”

Like coaches and players Westling is anxiously awaiting to find out when actual practices can begin.

“I don’t want to project because every day something changes but I could see summer football starting around July 1 and maybe the season going back to after Labor Day, but it’s total speculation,” he said.

Westling also coached at San Clemente, Capo Valley, and Saddleback high schools. He graduated from St. Paul High School and played for the legendary coach Marijon Ancich.

He received his Bachelelor of Arts in math from Cal State Fullerton, his
teaching credential from Loyola Marymount and his Masters in Education from Cal State San Bernardino.

Westling lives in Mission Viejo with his wife Marguerite, and the couple has four children: Drew, Wyatt, Jenna and Tessa.

Now, he’s ready for his newest challenge teaming up with Curtis for the first time.

“We’ve coached against each other for a long time, always respected and liked him, this will be a wonderful opportunity,” he said.

-Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone; timburt@ocsportszone.com