SAMOHI — Despite leading Santa Monica High’s baseball team to a school record 29-4 mark this year, head coach Kurt Schwengel was let go by school administration.
Schwengel, in his two years leading the Vikings, has won two Ocean League Coach of the Year awards and has never lost a league game.
“Our routine practice is to review coaching assignments at the end of the season and to fully evaluate the needs of the program each year,” said Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Superintendent Sandra Lyon. “I know the school appreciates all that coach Schwengel has done and for his dedication to the baseball program. In looking ahead, the school has determined that, at this time, it is in the best interest of the program to have a coach who is also a member of the teaching staff.”
Schwengel is currently a teacher at Franklin Elementary School, which is also in the SMMUSD.
When asked for comment, Schwengel declined.
But, that doesn’t mean other people associated with the baseball program aren’t upset.
Assistant coach and Samohi alum Tony Todd vowed to never return to the program and had harsh words regarding the situation.
“As a loyal Samohi guy it saddens me to say this, but I cannot tell a kid or a parent that they should attend Samohi to play baseball,” Todd said. “Mostly because they don’t know who their coach is going to be in two years because there is no backing from the administration or the district.”
Schwengel is the second coach to be fired in the past two years. Samohi alum Sheldon Philip-Guide was let go and there have been three coaches in the span of four years.
Fellow Samohi alum and former Dodgers pitcher Tim Leary feels similar to Todd. He said that he’s scratching his head wondering how a coach who has experienced so much success in such a short period of time could be replaced.
“I’ve never heard of a guy getting fired for doing too well,” Leary said. “It’s not good for kids to have different coaches all the time.”
Loren Drake, a science teacher at Samohi, has been selected to replace Schwengel.
“[Schwengel] taught a bunch of these kids at Franklin,” Todd said. “He loved those kids.”