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Girls Volleyball

John Gannon Steps Down as Santa Barbara High girls volleyball coach

John Gannon is stepping down as girls volleyball coach at Santa Barbara High after 11 seasons. Click to view larger
John Gannon is stepping down as girls volleyball coach at Santa Barbara High after 11 seasons. (JC Corliss / Noozhawk file photo)

One of the class acts in the local high school coaching ranks has stepped down.

Santa Barbara High girls volleyball coach John Gannon announced he is leaving the position after 11 years in order to spend more time with his family. He will continue teaching Advanced Placement and College Prep history at the school, where he has spent 18 of his 20 years as a teacher.

“I have a 5-year old son, Ford, and a 7-year old daughter, Shea; my wife is also in nursing school right now and it has been tough juggling teaching and coaching with family responsibilities,” Gannon told Noozhawk. “While it has been a tough decision, I feel that now is the right time for someone new to take over the program and bring a new voice to SBHS volleyball.”

The new coach will have big shoes to fill. Gannon enjoyed a terrific career. He took the program to two CIF-Southern Section Division 1-A Finals and won the championship in 2008, beating crosstown rival Dos Pueblos in three sets before 3,000 fans at UCSB’s Robertson Gym. The Dons won four Channel League titles during his tenure and went to the CIF playoffs 10 straight years (2006-2015).

“Winning CIF in 2008 against DP after losing to them twice in league was definitely a highlight,” he said. “Also reaching the CIF finals in my first season in 2006 and winning the Archbishop Mitty Tournament in 2007. And, being able to run the Tournament of Champions every year has been a true highlight.”

The Tournament of Champions is arguably one of the best high school girls tournaments in the country. It annually draws many of the top teams and players in the country and the state.

Gannon coached several outstanding players at Santa Barbara, among them Kristen Dealy, who went on to play at Notre Dame; Eve Ettinger, who played indoor and beach volleyball at USC; the Rottman sisters, Emily (Virginia), Dani (Santa Clara) and Lexi, who all played at Division 1 schools. Lexi presently is a sophomore at UCSB.

“I will miss the relationship with the players and the camaraderie amongst the coaches,” Gannon said. “ I think that I will miss the moments when the team truly comes together and the sum of the parts adds up to more than the individuals on the court.  I will also miss the upsets, when you are the underdog and you pull out a great win.”

Gannon realized he wanted to coach volleyball when he was in high school.

“The biggest role model for me was the coach at Newport Harbor High School, Dan Glenn, who is still coaching at Newport today, 34 seasons. I had the opportunity to play against teams he was coaching when I was in high school, coach with him in 1995-1996, and coach against him here at SBHS.”

Gannon’s first coaching job in Santa Barbara was the Laguna Blanca frosh-soph team in 1999. In 2000-01, he was a varsity assistant under Nan Verkaik on the girls team at SBHS. The 2000 team captured the CIF title, winning in five sets after rallying from a 0-2 deficit.

His first varsity head coaching job was with the boys team at Carpinteria High in 2003. He guided the Warriors to the CIF playoffs. Gannon then tried something completely different, coaching frosh-soph water polo at Santa Barbara from 2003-2005. Additionally, he coached frosh-soph and JV boys volleyball and assisted Chad Arneson with the boys varsity team.

Gannon took over the Dons’ varsity girls team in 2006, replacing SBHS alum Linnea Mendoza.

“I would like to thank all the girls who played at SBHS during my time here and their parents for all of their support,” he said. “I would like to thank all the frosh/soph and JV coaches who have worked here during my time.  Finally, I would like to thank the varsity assistant coaches, Lee Carlander, Rick Cervantes, Kelly Patterson, Jane Hinkle, Holland Crenshaw and Chad Arneson for their help over the last 11 years.  I would not have been able to do this without their support.”

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