SAMOHI — Longtime Santa Monica High School coach and athletic director Michael Griswold passed away in his sleep on April 15 while visiting Guatemala with his wife, Cynthia.
The cause of death has been attributed to a heart attack.
Griswold, 66, began teaching and coaching at Samohi in 1969. He coached through 1990, when he began a nine-year tenure as athletic director.
In his time on campus, Griswold coached every thing from football, baseball to track. Just last year he rejoined the football coaching staff as the special teams and quarterbacks coach under Head Coach Travis Clark, who himself was coached by Griswold during his playing days in the mid-1980s.
“It’s horrible news, I’m numb,” Clark said. “What can I do, I’ve lost two mentors in the space of two years.”
Griswold is the second former Samohi athletic director who has died in recent years. Norm Lacy passed away in May of 2010, also while on vacation.
During Griswold’s latest stint on the sidelines he helped guide the Vikings to their most successful season in a decade, with the team reaching the semi-finals of the CIF-Southern Section Western Division playoffs.
It was common to see Griswold dispensing advice to quarterback Christian Salem, who has parlayed his strong senior season into an invitation from Northwestern University to walk-on to the team.
Before his teaching career, Griswold attended Westchester High School. He moved on to play football and attend classes at Santa Monica College and later Cal State Long Beach.
Current athletic director Daniel Escalera, who has taught and coached at Samohi for the past 20-plus years, said that Griswold’s loss is a terrible blow to a campus community that has seen generations of student-athletes come to know Griswold.
“He was a great guy,” Escalera said. “He was the kind of guy who would have watered the grass if it helped out.”
A memorial has been planned for Sunday at the Hermosa Beach Kiwanis Club, located at 2515 Valley Dr. It is scheduled for 10 a.m. — 2 p.m.