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Former NFL Player Stecker Right at Home Coaching at Corona Del Mar

Former NFL Player Stecker Right at Home Coaching at Corona Del Mar

Aaron Stecker (27) of the New Orleans Saints avoids a tackle by Ronde Barber (20) of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, La., on Dec. 2, 2007. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Dan Wood

Dan Wood

8/14/2023

Updated: 8/14/2023

Aaron Stecker doesn’t harbor any grand illusions of landing some big-time college or pro football coaching gig. The former NFL running back, who won a Super Bowl championship with the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is just fine right where he is.
Mr. Stecker, who also played for the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons during an 11-year NFL career that ended in 2009, is in his first season as an assistant varsity coach at Corona del Mar High School in Newport Beach.
“I really enjoy my time being there,” Mr. Stecker told The Epoch Times. “The best thing about this school is the way they develop kids and make them into players, by the coaching and the knowledge, and lovin’ on them. That’s a big thing, too. It’s not all about Xs and Os. I can’t say enough about the people at Corona del Mar, from the principal on down. It’s just a wonderful place for young athletes.”
That final point is particularly pertinent given that Mr. Stecker’s son, Dorsett, is a sophomore slot receiver for the Sea Kings. Mr. Stecker had previously coached for Dorsett’s youth program—the Newport Beach Seahawks—and assisted with Corona del Mar’s freshmen team last season.
It didn’t take long for first-year Sea Kings Coach Kevin Hettig, formerly an associate head coach, to seize opportunity once he took over the program from former Coach Dan O’Shea.
“Last year during our playoff run, Aaron came up and helped out a little bit and kind of just got around the guys,” Mr. Hettig told The Epoch Times. “We all knew he’d fit. As good of a coach as he is, he’s a better person. He’s an 11-year NFL veteran. He could be doing different things with his time, but he genuinely cares about these kids. He’s the type of coach that whether he played in the NFL or not, we would want him on this staff for the type of person he is.”
Aaron Stecker (27) of the New Orleans Saints avoids a tackle by Mike Peterson (54) and Brent Hawkins (57) of the Jacksonville Jaguars at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, La., on Nov. 4, 2007. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Aaron Stecker (27) of the New Orleans Saints avoids a tackle by Mike Peterson (54) and Brent Hawkins (57) of the Jacksonville Jaguars at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, La., on Nov. 4, 2007. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Having an ex-NFL player among the team’s coaches is nothing new at Corona del Mar.
In years past, former New England Patriots and Chicago Bears linebacker Shea McClellin, as well as former Bears and Buccaneers safety Chris Conte, have served as Sea Kings assistants. This year’s staff also includes former San Jose State quarterback Nick Starkel, who led the Spartans to the 2020 Mountain West Conference championship.
“In the area we’re in and the kind of program we are, we have some guys that have played at pretty high levels,” Mr. Hettig said.
Nick Starkel (17) of the San Jose State Spartans fires a pass downfield during the first half of the game against the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors at the Clarance T.C. Ching Complex in Honolulu, Hawaii, on Sept. 18, 2021. (Darryl Oumi/Getty Images)

Nick Starkel (17) of the San Jose State Spartans fires a pass downfield during the first half of the game against the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors at the Clarance T.C. Ching Complex in Honolulu, Hawaii, on Sept. 18, 2021. (Darryl Oumi/Getty Images)

Mr. Stecker, 47, had dabbled with high school coaching in his native Wisconsin before he and his wife, Kara, relocated to Southern California in 2012. He said he really hadn’t planned on coaching during Dorsett’s high school years.
“I’ve had opportunities to coach in the NFL,” Mr. Stecker said. “I’ve had coaches tell me, ‘You’d be a great coach, but if you value your family life, it’s not the job for you.’ I kind of knew that. I like being around the family. I like having my free time. I didn’t want it to be all time-consuming.”
Still, Mr. Stecker felt a tug when he thought about the impact of his own high school coach, Ken Golomski, at Ashwaubenon High in suburban Green Bay.
“I always said to myself that if I was going to do some type of coaching, it would be at the high school level,” he said. “My wife told me you’ve always said you wanted to be involved in high school coaching, so this was a chance to get in. I took the opportunity. I felt like I could contribute something.”
Aaron Stecker of the New Orleans Saints poses for his 2007 NFL headshot at photo day in New Orleans, La. (Getty Images)

Aaron Stecker of the New Orleans Saints poses for his 2007 NFL headshot at photo day in New Orleans, La. (Getty Images)

He also said he was lucky to have learned from a bunch of great coaches and to have played with Hall of Fame players.
“I’ve seen a lot, experienced a lot. I feel like I have a ton of knowledge to offer to these young kids,” he said.
As Corona del Mar’s special-teams coordinator and running backs coach, Mr. Stecker pretty much has the best of both worlds. He gets to be around Dorsett but isn’t his position coach.
“It’s been a really good balance,” he said. “We have a good relationship. When we’re off the field, I’m dad, and then when we’re on the field, I’m coach. He does a good job respecting that. I let the other coaches coach him and critique him.”
The 5-foot-9, 175-pound Dorsett, who is fully recovered from a broken femur that cost him nearly all of last season, is part of a young Sea Kings squad that will open its season Friday night at Downey.
Corona del Mar, which won a CIF state championship in 2019, is coming off a 9–4 campaign that ended in the CIF Southern Section Division 3 semifinals.
“When you’re coaching young kids, it’s all about how quickly they understand and get in the groove, and get over that fact of being the young guys out there and just knowing they can play with anybody,” Mr. Stecker said. “I feel the potential is there. It’s just about how we execute.”
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Dan Wood

Dan Wood

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Dan Wood is a community sports reporter based in Orange County, California. He has covered sports professionally for some 43 years, spending nearly three decades in the newspaper industry and 14 years in radio. He is an avid music fan, with a strong lean toward country and classic rock.

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