Spellman Helps Laguna Beach Football Go 9-1 with 32+ Margin of Victory

Laguna Beach Blog Cover

Could highly individualized in-season speed training really make a difference in on-field performance? 

Laguna Beach High School is convinced that it does.

Known as a great surfing spot, Laguna Beach is a nice beach town located in Orange County. It is the smallest public school in Orange County, and they don’t have any players from outside their district. 

Despite the surfing stereotypes and smaller pool of players, they’re creating a football powerhouse. 

One reason for the surge in success? Individualized speed training with Spellman Performance. 

This past season, the Spellman team introduced in-season speed training to the football team as well as the use of athlete monitoring technology with Catapult GPS

This helped lead Laguna Beach to a 9 game win streak during the regular season and their third straight Pac 4 title in 2023 season. 

The Story of Laguna Beach High School

After finishing the 2022 season with a regular season record of 6-4, Laguna went on to win their division finishing 10-4 on the year. Hungry for more, Laguna decided to partner with Spellman Performance in the off-season to work on team speed and overall athletic performance. 

Cici Murray, one of the Spellman Performance coaches who was responsible for leading the Laguna training sessions approached John Shanahan, Head Coach at Laguna Beach at the end of the summer with an interesting proposition: Continuing to Train Speed During the Season. 

Cici went on to share how the Spellman team had worked with programs like the University of Arizona to effectively train speed all season long, resulting in higher performing athletes and a lower rate of injury. 

From the results they had seen over the summer (nearly a full MPH improvement across their entire team), Coach Shanahan figured it was a great opportunity to give their team a greater edge. This was the beginning of something special…

How Has Spellman Impacted Laguna? 

There have been two driving factors that have led to the success of this partnership: Buy In and introducing Spellman speed principles. 

Getting Buy in from the Coaches & Athletes 

The Spellman team has plenty of knowledge and experience building an effective speed training program. But in order for it to be effective, the entire team, coaches and athletes needed to be on board. 

“Trust from the coaching staff is extremely important.” said Cici Murray, the Spellman Coach responsible for leading Laguna Beach. “Without buy-in from the coaches, my ability to implement the proper training with the athletes becomes increasingly more difficult.” 

With the full trust and support of the Laguna Beach staff, Coach Cici is next tasked with getting buy-in from the athletes. She did it the best way she knew how… 

“Honestly, I treat them the exact same way I treat my college and pro guys. This sometimes includes being tough on them, drilling technique, drilling in the little details, while still showing them that I care about our relationship. I’ve found that it gives them a sense of leadership and accountability. They want to impress me because I hold them to a high standard. It all comes from a place of wanting what’s best for them. I hold them accountable, but I put my arm around them while I do it.” Cici Said. 

It’s safe to say the entire Laguna Beach Football program responded. When the season first started, Spellman’s training with the team was outside of the normal confines of practice. 

As the season progressed, coaches noticed a difference in their athletes. The staff started joining the Spellman training sessions, and loved seeing the students in this environment. 

The buy-in from the athletes was real. 

Cici and the Spellman team have been able to add to an already thriving culture, encouraging hard work, competition, and high standards. 

The Laguna Beach football coaches weren't the only ones who noticed a difference in the players. 

“People kept coming up to us and saying that everybody looked so much better than last year. Other coaches at our school have told me there’s a visible difference for our players. Guys look faster, were running all around the field. It gave me a ton of confidence that we’re doing something right. The athletes are passing the eye test, and the data backs it all up.” Coach Shanahan said. 

Speaking of the data, what exactly is Spellman’s methodology for training speed in season? 

The Results are in the Data…

One of the main things the Spellman team did with Laguna Beach was implementing the use of Catapult GPS into practices and games. 

“The goal of our training IN season isn’t to make athletes faster necessarily. The goal is to monitor their loads, help them avoid injury, and ensure they’re getting enough high speed exposure during the week so that they are prepared to perform at their best when they’re exposed to high speeds in games.” 

Cici continued... 

“We’re not looking  for higher top speeds, yet almost all of the athletes actually hit new PRs in season, which was obviously a nice bi-product.”

Catapult is an athlete monitoring tool that tracks information such as volume, intensity, impacts, and more. Cici took the data from every practice and every game, for different positions, and gave the Laguna Beach coaches a detailed report for the week. 

Looking at things like current volume, comparing percent of game speed/volume with what they were hitting in practice, and other metrics the Spellman team was able to identify which athletes need more reps, less reps, how much intensity they can handle leading up to their game, and could ensure athletes were hitting the right speed stimulus. 

This not only prepared the athletes to perform at their highest come Friday night, but it also helped mitigate the risk of injury from overuse. 

Before working with Spellman Performance, Laguna Beach didn’t know what GPS was, now it’s a staple. 

“Monitoring athlete speeds and reporting on their data has been such a positive addition to the competitive culture that is being built at Laguna.” Cici Said. “If I didn’t send the guys their speeds right after practice they’d constantly hit me up like “Hey Coach where are my speeds at?” It was so cool to see.” 

The relationship between Spellman Performance and Laguna Beach High School has been an immense success. 

“Working with Cici and the Spellman Performance team has been an extremely positive experience for our athletes, our coaches, and our entire program. We’ve seen big improvements from a numbers standpoint but more importantly those improvements translated to better on-field play. What more could we ask for as coaches?” - John Shanahan, Head Coach

The speed improvements have been a bi product of something greater. 

The culture that is being built. Giving the kids something to buy in on, something to work towards. 

After each game, the players wanted to know who had the top in-game speed. After practice they wanted to know what their data was telling them. 

The coaching staff loved the added motivation for their players. 

And people around the area were  taking notice. 

Where did all this lead?

Results on the field. Icing on the cake. 

The Results

Laguna Beach wanted to build on the success from the end of last season. Training with Spellman all summer long and seeing an average improvement of nearly a full mile per hour, they felt primed heading into the fall. 

After dropping a 1 point overtime loss in week 1, they rattled off 9 straight games with an average margin of victory of over 32 points (see full game results below). 

Laguna won its third straight league title, and will likely move up to a higher division heading into the 2024 season next fall. 

They’re the smallest high school in Orange County. They have 0 players from outside their district. Yet they’re ranked in the top 100 of their section and top 200 in the state of California. 

So can highly individualized in-season speed training really make a difference in on-field performance? 

Just ask Laguna Beach High School. 

Looking to implement these training systems into your program? Check out Spellman’s digital courses on building your own speed system.

Want to learn more about adding Catapult to your Program? 

Get in touch with a Catapult representative here, and unlock a special Spellman discount.

2023 Laguna Beach High School Football Results

Result Opponent Score
Loss Chino 27-26 (Overtime)
Win Dana Hills 24-10
Win Northwood 35-21
Win Santa Ana 68-48
Win Lakeside 75-12
Win Charter Oak 18-17
Win Garden Grove 42-7
Win Ocean View 64-0
Win Godinez Fundamental  50-7
Win Westminster