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By Zach Cavanagh

San Clemente boys volleyball head coach Ken Goldstone. Photo Courtesy of SCHS.

Ken Goldstone has stepped down as San Clemente High School’s boys volleyball coach after 22 years in the position and 42 years in public education.

“I’ve been thinking about it. It’s really difficult to say when,” Goldstone said. “I’ve enjoyed doing what I do the whole time.”

Goldstone said with his wife retiring this year as well, the couple wanted to do some travelling, and now was as good a time as any to finally call it a career.

At San Clemente, Goldstone compiled a 514-149 overall record and his teams won the South Coast League 13 times. Goldstone’s Tritons also never finished lower than second place in the league in his 22 years. Over the last few years when asked how much longer he would coach, Goldstone always committed to sticking it out with his talented senior classes, but each oncoming class was just about always as talented as the one it was replacing.

“It’s never an easy time,” Goldstone said. “I’ve had several great senior groups come through, and people always ask ‘what’re you going to do now?’ And a new freshmen group would come in, and they’d be good, and we’d do it all again.”

That’s not allude that Goldstone is leaving at a lull in the program. The Tritons won championships on the varsity, junior varsity and frosh/soph levels last season, and as Goldstone said, the cupboard is still full.

“I think it was just time,” Goldstone said.

Goldstone also developed numerous college volleyball players and some that went on to play professionally, including Brian Thornton, who just coached the U.S. men’s volleyball team in the Olympics in Tokyo. Thornton played at San Clemente, won a national title at UC Irvine and played for the United States at the 2012 Olympics in London.

Thornton was the setter for the Tritons 2003 CIF-SS runner-up team as a freshman, and it was that team and Thornton’s story that came to mind when recalling Goldstone’s career.

“The number of kids that had experience coming in when I started was minimal,” Goldstone said. “(On the 2003 team), only one boy that came in as a freshman in that class had experience, and the rest we had to groom. The setter (Thornton) had never touched a volleyball before.”

In addition to his 22 years as San Clemente’s volleyball coach, Goldstone was the head coach at Capistrano Valley for six years for a total of 28 years in as a head coach in the sport. Goldstone was also a football coach for 25 years starting at San Clemente under Allie Schaff, five years at Capistrano Valley and another five years at Aliso Niguel with Joe Wood before returning to San Clemente. Additionally, Goldstone was the boys basketball head coach for six seasons while at Aliso Niguel.

Goldstone was an educator with 34 years as an English teacher before he retired from teaching in 2017.

“It will be strange to not see him on the court and there will be some sadness for sure,” San Clemente athletic director John Hamro said in a statement, “but at the same time I am very happy for him as he moves on to the next phase of his life with his wife Sandy.  He can be at peace stepping away from a job that he treated as a profession that gave him a sense of purpose beyond himself.  Coach Goldstone will be missed.”

San Clemente will begin its search for a new boys volleyball coach within the next few weeks.

Zach Cavanagh

Zach Cavanagh is the sports editor for Picket Fence Media. Zach is a multiple California Journalism Award winner and has covered sports in Orange County since 2013. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @ZachCav and follow our sports coverage on Twitter @SouthOCSports. Email at

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