In leading up to the official start of the 2018-19 athletics campaign at Irvine Valley, which starts on Aug. 25 with the IVC men's soccer team at Yavapai in Arizona, the Laser athletic department is counting down the top 10 IVC sports stories from the 2017-18 school year.
The No. 10 story on the list was a pair of Irvine Valley coaching legends stepping down from their sports. Women's and men's golf coach Ben Burnett stepped down after the women's season in the fall of 2017 and Tom Pestolesi moved away from his head coaching duties with the men's volleyball team. Pestolesi remains Director of Volleyball and women's indoor and beach coach at Irvine Valley. Both Burnett and Pestolesi have won multiple state championships, captured coach of the year awards and moved student-athletes on to four-year colleges.
Burnett was a winner of multiple Orange Empire Conference coach of the year awards.
Last fall, top player Kylie Sok took second at regionals and finished fifth at the CCCAA State Championships to earn all-state honors. As a team, Irvine Valley finished in second place in conference.
In 2016, the Lasers made the state championships as a team and saw Araceli Esquivel place sixth in the field. And Marisa Bhanubandh won the scoring championship at the conference finals. IVC finished second in the conference standings and took seventh as a team at state.
The 2014 women's golf team finished second in the Orange Empire Conference and led the Southern California Regionals after the first day. Captains Cindy Dang and Leleaga Meredith qualified to the CCCAA State Championships for the second straight year. Meredith ran away from the field with scores of 75 and 72 over the two-day tournament to win the individual state title.
The 2012 team went undefeated and won the Orange Empire Conference regional and California Community College State Championship. Sally Kim was named the conference player of the year and all-state for the Lasers.
The 2010 squad won the conference title, placing all but one of its six starters on the all-conference team, and then went on to capture the program's first state title.
Top player of the 2010 squad Nicole Rivera was named back-to-back conference player of the year and first team all-state two years in a row.
Pestolesi has been a fixture with volleyball at Irvine Valley since the start of the men's program in 1991.
He is the only coach in state history to win a title in men's indoor, women's indoor and women's beach volleyball and he recently crossed the 500-win plateau combined for men's and women's volleyball at Irvine Valley.
Pestolesi led the men's program to state titles in 1993, 2007 and 2008 and the women's indoor team to state championships in 2014 and 2017. Both the 2014 and 2017 women's squads went undefeated with records of 27-0.
His women's beach squad captured the inaugural CCCAA title in 2015.
This past season was Pestolesi's 17th and final with the men's squad. He ended with a record of 194-105 on the men's side.
Pestolesi was honored by being named to the California Community College Men's Volleyball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in the spring of 2016.
But he has done just as much off the court in leadership and with student-athlete success. Several of his former assistants and players have moved on to become head coaches of their own, including Jay Hosack, who is the head coach at NCAA Division I George Mason, and former player Ryan Windisch, who was the head coach at Golden West last year and will now take over the men's team at IVC.
Pestolesi's women's teams have compiled a cumulative grade point average above a 3.00 in 15 of the last 16 semesters at Irvine Valley and have been named IVC Scholar-Team of the Year four times. His men's teams have achieved the 3.0 mark 11 times in the 16 terms.
Pestolesi has served in leadership positions in both the men's and women's volleyball coaches association, and was in-fact the founder of the men's association and President and Treasurer for the first 26 years of its existence.
And Pestolesi is a staunch supporter of professional development. He is regularly the lead technician at coaching clinics, and has created and led the only Beach Volleyball Summits and Clinics in CCC history in 2012 and 2016. Pestolesi is also the liaison with Kathy DeBoer and the AVCA on all issues related to beach volleyball in the CCCAA.
Pestolesi has been a Kinesiology professor at Irvine Valley for 20 years.