SAMOHI — Leave it to Athletic Director Norm Lacy to keep his choice for the new baseball coach close to home.
Lacy, who himself enjoys a long history in Santa Monica sports, didn’t have to look much further than alumni to select the next baseball coach at Santa Monica High School. Sheldon Philip-Guide, class of 1992, was named Friday to replace Rob Duron who resigned following a tumultuous season that saw the team make the playoffs.
“I don’t see why we shouldn’t be competing with the Chatsworths and Crespis and those types of schools,” Philip-Guide said. “We have what we need in terms of talent.”
Aside from taking over a team that lost a number of key seniors, including Tyler Skaggs who was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels during the Major League Baseball draft earlier this month, Philip-Guide said the first thing he needs to do is concentrate on fundraising efforts to improve facilities at the aging campus.
He said he intends to use the remainder of the summer to explore fundraising opportunities and to reach out to parents and boosters to help him unify the program and potentially take it to new heights.
The decision to go with Philip-Guide wasn’t Lacy’s first choice. Once Duron resigned following the season, Lacy began searching for his replacement both in-house and citywide. His search soon led him to Crossroads School’s Co-Head Coach Pat Armstrong, who ultimately declined the offer for unspecified reasons. Attempts to reach Armstrong were unsuccessful.
Despite Armstrong’s decision to decline the position, Lacy is confident that Philip-Guide is the right man at the right time.
“I like his enthusiasm,” Lacy said. “The fact that he’s an alum is a bonus.”
Lacy said that he was impressed by the new coach’s people skills as he quickly won over the selection committee that included administrators and parents.
“Everybody was impressed with him,” Lacy said. “The only thing he’s lacking is coaching experience.”
While this will be Philip-Guide’s first head coaching gig, he has a rich background in athletics. A three sport star at Samohi, he went on to play defensive back at the University of Pennsylvania. He put baseball aside while he completed his football career, but once it was over he wanted to give baseball another shot.
He returned to Southern California and enrolled at Glendale Community College where he played baseball. He was taken in the 50th round of the draft by the Angels in 1995. He wound up playing for the club’s A-level affiliate until 2000 when he decided to hang up his cleats. He decided to go to work in the automotive industry where he’s been for nearly a decade.
He remained out of baseball until this year when he discovered that the position at Samohi was open. He followed the team through local newspapers where he learned of Duron’s resignation.
Soon thereafter he approached Lacy and the process that would lead him to the job began. The assignment is considered a walk-on position. Unlike Duron, he will not be a teacher at the school in addition to his coaching duties. Lacy said that school district budget constraints made hiring a full-time instructor impossible.
Ironically, Philip-Guide was coached by Duron during his time at Samohi during the early 1990s. He said that Duron was dogged by complaints from parents during that stint as well.
Philip-Guide doesn’t see parental criticism as an obstacle to building a successful program. He said he intends to come to the position with an open-door policy, one that he hopes will put parents and the administration at ease.
“Parents want to see their kids succeed,” he said. “I can understand that.
“I can see that everybody thinks their kid should play. We can only put nine guys on the field. There are going to be reasons that things are going to work out the way they are. You can’t make everybody happy.”
Despite the departure of a number of all-Ocean League players, Philip-Guide sees a talented roster that he hopes will translate into another winning season. He singled out pitcher Alonzo Gonzalez as one of the players he will depend on to lead the way.
The onus of being relied upon is welcomed by Gonzalez.
“I’m excited with it being my senior year,” Gonzalez said. “I have to carry the team next year.
“There is pressure when somebody places the number one role on you.”
The pressure will surely be there, but Gonzalez said he looks forward to shutting down opposing hitters next year and put the negativity of last season behind the team.
“All we’re doing now is trying to rebuild,” he said. “We’re trying to forget last season and everything that went down off the field.
“Change is good, We’re just looking for that last puzzle piece.”