Following in parents’ footsteps, one generation after the other

La Costa Canyon field hockey player Mia DiGiulio (left) works out as her mother, Kari DiGiulio (middle), does the coaching.
La Costa Canyon field hockey player Mia DiGiulio (left) works out as her mother, Kari DiGiulio (middle), does the coaching.
(Eduardo Contreras/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The last time Kari DiGiulio was a head coach in field hockey was 2011 when she resigned as the head coach at Torrey Pines High after a playoff loss to accept the athletic director post at rival La Costa Canyon.

DiGiulio succeeded her dad, John Labeta, who went on to be the assistant CIF San Diego Section commissioner for a decade.

Besides a load of experience as a field hockey player, coach and teacher, DiGiulio brought something else.

She harbored a burning desire to run the Mavericks program one day.

That day has finally arrived.

DiGuilio is the head coach at La Costa Canyon, in part, because of one of her players.

Freshman daughter Mia is a center midfielder for the Mavs, who will play just five games during this coronavirus-marred season that began Thursday, March 4, at home against defending CIF Division II champion Del Norte.

“My biggest concern is that we make the athletes enjoy whatever season we have,” DiGiulio said. “Winning is not at the top of the list because there are no playoffs.

“I want the seniors to have something to be excited about for a few weeks in their last year here.”

DiGiulio’s desire to coach again comes from her dad, who coached basketball and softball at Serra while she was playing for the perennially powerful Conquistadors field hockey team.

Her daughter has run around the track at enough Mavericks’ games — DiGiulio was a part-time assistant coach since 2012 — to have caught the same enthusiasm.

She’s wanted to play field hockey and soccer for the Mavs most of her life.

When the virus wiped out all sports a year ago, she wasn’t sure she’d have a freshman season.

“To be playing the same sport we both love is awesome,” said Mia, the oldest of four children of Kari and husband John. “I was definitely disappointed when field hockey season was canceled.

“I looked forward to playing as much as she was looking forward to coaching again.

“I was afraid we’d never get back to normal before freshman year ended, that field hockey wouldn’t play again until next fall.”

Kari’s schedule includes teaching three classes, being athletic director with North County Conference responsibilities and now coaching as well as being mom to Mia and her three brothers.

She knows what Mia is facing to play Mavs field hockey.

“My dad was a coach and I had to prove every day at Serra that I belonged there,” said the former Central Michigan University player. “Mia is a lot like me. She will rise to the occasion the way I had to.”

It’s a distraction Mia plans to ignore the same way her mom did.

“People will say I’m on the team because mom is the coach,” she said. “That makes me want to prove myself even more.

“I’ll have to focus on playing and not what people are saying.”

DiGiulio’s teams at Torrey Pines claimed CIF Division I titles in 2002 and again in 2008 among five trips to the finals.

This season will be like no other anyone has ever seen.

“Normally, my teams find their groove about five games into the season,” Kari said. “This year the season will be over.”

Added Mia: “She’ll probably call for a practice that following Monday.”

The last time La Costa Canyon won a CIF championship was a three-year run of titles in 2005-07.

—- Monahan is a freelance writer for The San Diego Union Tribune.


Sophia Bachman, Fallbrook, Sr.

Cara Betancourt, Rancho Buena Vista, Jr.

Faith Chloe, Torrey Pines, Sr.

Mia Clark, Serra, So.

Ashley Cogger, Del Norte, Sr.

Kaitlyn Collins, Fallbrook, Sr.

Jans Croon, Torrey Pines, Sr.

Sophie Everett, Serra Sr.

Andie Gately, Canyon Crest, Jr.

Sophia Gomez, Scripps Ranch, Sr.

Gracie Jiminez, Torrey Pines, Sr.

Morgan Kallman, Poway, Jr.

Mackenzie Kensel, Scripps, Ranch Sr.

Philine Klas, Torrey Pines, Jr.

Smila Klas, Torrey Pines, So.

Riley Lacy, Scripps Ranch, Sr.

Regina Luna, Bonita Vista, Jr.

Hayden Ma, Canyon Crest, Jr.

Kelsey McGratten, Scripps Ranch, Jr.

Zoe Mohrman, Mission Vista, Sr.

Stella Neville, Helix, Jr.

Alexis Pendleton, Serra, Sr.

Kiara Polifka, Serra, Jr.

Addy Rodriguez, Serra, Sr.

Tegan Samuelson, Serra, Sr.

Kacey Sanchez, Fallbrook, Fr.

Claire Telford, La Jolla, Sr.