Santa Monica High School is looking for a new head baseball coach to run a program that has been plagued by controversies on and off the field in recent years.
The search will yield a candidate to replace Loren Drake, who is stepping down after two years at the helm.
Drake might continue to be involved with the baseball program in some capacity, but not as head coach, according to Santa Monica-Malibu school district spokeswoman Gail Pinsker. Further details had not yet been hammered out. He remains listed online as a member of the Samohi science department faculty.
It’s the district’s general practice to accept coaching applications from within and beyond the school site and district, according to Pinsker. But, she added, “the school site has discretion to hire as they see fit.”
Coaching positions are non-merit hourly assignments that are automatically complete at the end of each school year, according to Pinsker.
It remains to be seen whether Drake’s successor will come from on or off campus, a topic that sparked heated debate in the community following the ouster of former Samohi baseball coach Kurt Schwengel.
When Schwengel, who teaches in the district at Franklin Elementary School, was let go after two successful seasons and Drake was handed the reins, school officials said they wanted a coach who was already on campus. But when the district needed a replacement for former football coach Travis Clark, who did not work on campus, officials said they would consider candidates from on and off campus. Not all current Samohi coaches work at the high school.
Drake took over the baseball program following Schwengel’s now-infamous protest of an opponent’s illegal use of Wiffle balls during pregame batting practice, which allowed Samohi to advance in the 2014 playoffs.
In two seasons under Drake, the Vikings posted an overall record of 34-23. They went 20-9 in his first season, including 8-2 in league play, reaching the section quarterfinals in Division 3 before falling to San Dimas. But the team missed the playoffs this year after going 14-14, including 5-5 in conference games.
This past spring, a few members of the team were sent home from a tournament in the San Diego area for a “student behavior issue,” officials said. The matter was handled by Drake, Pinsker said.
Drake’s replacement will inherit a roster that lost standout seniors Jaylon McLaughlin and Lowell Schipper to graduation. McLaughlin, who was recently drafted by the New York Mets organization, is planning to continue his career at Nevada. Schipper will play at Richmond.
The coaching vacancy has been posted on the CIF Southern Section website. The chosen candidate will be responsible for all levels of the Samohi baseball program and tasked with implementing plans for player development, hiring assistants, scheduling games, planning practices and communicating with parents, players and administrators.
Samohi is seeking candidates with previous coaching experience at the varsity level, according to the job description. Resumes and cover letters should be submitted to Samohi athletic director Tim Ballaret at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ballaret is on vacation through July and was not available for comment, Pinsker said.