Members of the Santa Monica High School boys varsity baseball team bow their heads in front of their coaches after loosing 1-0 to culver city high school at Culver City High School on Thursday May 10th 2012 as Culver City hosted Samo in an Ocean League Contest. Samo will end up in 2nd place with a record of 8-2 in league play (photo by Morgan Genser)

SAMOHI — The firing of a popular Santa Monica High School coach isn’t going over well with the Viking faithful.

Head Coach Sheldon Philip-Guide was informed that the school was going in a different direction last week by Larry Boone, one of the house principals on campus.

Philip-Guide said that the bad news was given to him during a phone call and he wasn’t given a chance to defend his three-year record that includes two Ocean League titles and a pair of Coach of the Year awards.

“I was told that the principal made the decision,” Philip-Guide said, alluding to Laurel Fretz, the school’s head administrator. “I’m confused, I don’t know what happened.”

Boone said that he couldn’t comment, saying that Fretz would have to be the one to address the firing.

Calls to Fretz and school and district officials were not returned as of presstime.

The firing isn’t popular among those close to the team.

Assistant Coach Tony Todd said that he was outright ticked off by the move. He has deep ties to the school going back to his playing days and has been a key fundraiser for the program since becoming a coach three years ago when Philip-Guide took over.

Todd said that he believes a group of disgruntled team parents led to the administration’s decision.

“It’s messed up that something like this could happen,” said Todd, who isn’t sure if he wants to return as a coach next season. “I know a lot of the kids want him back.”

Mason Landis, a junior shortstop who was the Ocean League Most Outstanding Player of the Year this season, said that the firing is unfortunate for a team that has started to take shape under Philip-Guide’s tutelage.

Landis said that not everything has been perfect, but the team was starting to grow more confident and saw big things for next season with a group of returners that includes starting pitcher Connor Greene and team MVP Nobu Suzuki.

“I want him back, definitely,” Landis said. “[Philip-Guide] is one of the only coaches that puts in time. He’s done amazing things for our program.”

The firing also didn’t sit well with prominent alum Tim Leary. The former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher was so angered by what he heard that he fired off a missive to Fretz. He has yet to hear a response.

“Somebody needs to dig into this,” Leary said. “Typically, athletic directors do the hiring and firing.”

Leary is particularly upset that Philip-Guide didn’t get a chance to defend himself and called the firing over the phone “tacky and classless.”

“It’s just wrong,” he added.

As for Philip-Guide, he said that he’s trying not to interfere with the team, but would like the opportunity to explain his side of the story.

“My understanding is there was a parent meeting with some of the unhappy parents. Sure enough, a week and a half later I get the call,” he said.

He isn’t sure if he’ll return to coaching any time soon, saying that he’s just trying to let it sink in and then he’ll figure out what’s the next move.

In the mean time, Philip-Guide walks away feeling like he has unfinished business at Samohi.

“I thought we were making improvements,” he said. “The program was getting better every year. I thought next year would be a defining moment. It would finally be all my guys.

“I wasn’t given the opportunity to coach my first class and see them graduate. That’s disappointing.”


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