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Vikings sophomore slugger Robbie Kerr (left) and junior pitcher Eli Beiber (right) flank their new Head Baseball Coach Kurt Schwengel who is also their former kindergarten teacher.
Courtesy Photo
Vikings sophomore slugger Robbie Kerr (left) and junior pitcher Eli Beiber (right) flank their new Head Baseball Coach Kurt Schwengel who is also their former kindergarten teacher.

Sports, Baseball, Santa Monica High School

Kindergarten Teacher Accepts Baseball Head Coaching Position at Samohi

Posted Aug. 28, 2012, 2:54 pm

Roger Morante / Sports Editor

Kurt Schwengel has been hired as the new head baseball coach for the Santa Monica High School Vikings and has already held practice after the first day of school in anticipation for the Vikings upcoming baseball season in 2013.

“We hit the ground running and can’t believe we are playing baseball in August,” said Schwengel. “We have a ton of time to prepare ourselves for the next season and we are going to be ready to go.”

Schwengel, a former Vikings baseball player and alumnus who played for Samohi in the ‘80s is no stranger to the Samohi baseball team. He has been the pitching coach for the Vikings for the last three years and has overseen the development of a large number of athletes in Santa Monica for well over a decade.

“It’s amazing to see the kids grown up,” said Schwengel. “I know a lot of them from kindergarten, and I have known a lot of these kids for a very long time.”

Schwengel has been with the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District for fifteen years and currently teaches kindergarten at Franklin Elementary school where he has won numerous awards including the NBC Crystal Apple for teaching. In his spare time he has helped mentor a large number of little league baseball players in the Santa Monica area.

Junior Eli Beiber and Sophomore Robbie Kerr, former kindergarten students of Schwengel, will also be returning for the Vikings as well as a large number of starters from the 2012 season.

“I have followed them all through little league,” said Schwengel. “Eli was the best pitcher and Robbie was the home run king. The kids know who I am and we went full practice on the first day.”

In 1987, Schwengel set a CIF record with the Vikings as a pitcher counting 12 saves in a season, and was named All-CIF in 1988.

Schwengel went on to play at UCLA from 1989-1993 and believes that with his philosophy and mentality of “training to go undefeated,” will give the Vikings a good chance "to win every single game."

His coaching staff is still in flux but assistant coach Tony Todd has committed to returning to the program.

“We are not sure how the coaching staff is going to shake out just yet but Tony Todd and I will be with the varsity,” said Schwengel. “We have a total of seven coaches in the program right now and they are all alumni. That is very rare and we are anticipating a smooth transition.”

Schwengel is looking to increase the Vikings 14-16 overall record and 8-2 record with the Ocean League in 2012 to a 30-0 record in 2013.

“I tell my kids if you don’t think you are going to win, don’t step on the field,” said Schwengel. “I only say this because I think we have the talent to play with anybody next year and our philosophy is that we plan on winning every single game.”

Schwengel believes that he has inherited “a very experienced team” that “will probably start seven or eight seniors who have been starting for two to three years,” and he can't imagine not improving on next years record.

Yet Schwengel understands that his appointment as Head Coach for the Vikings is somewhat of an anomaly.

“I have never heard of a non high school teacher coaching a high school sport before,” said Schwengel. “But some of the best coaches at Samohi are teachers, so I am glad the Samohi administration was ok in giving the position to me.”

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Comments

Aug. 28, 2012, 4:22:45 pm

Helen McCullough said...

Hi Kurt, I know that you will do a spectacular job at SAMOHI! You are such a wonderful role model for all kids!! Congratulations and Best of luck!I miss you so much as our relationship of big brothers/sisters with my fourth grade class was one of the highlights of my teaching career!I will always remember our fun activities at Halloween, Holidays and all the rest of the holidays! xoxox Helen McCullough

Aug. 28, 2012, 4:32:40 pm

Crystal said...

I'm happy for Kurt. I remember him from John Adams and Samohi as a respectable, reliable guy. No doubt he'll do a great job. I'm not quite sure what happened to the previous coach, Sheldon, whom I also remember from Samohi. An abrupt and enigmatic staff change! But the kids are lucky they have Kurt stepping in to get them back on track and minimizing the disruption to their program as much as possible.

Aug. 28, 2012, 5:46:28 pm

Sandra Newell said...

The article fails to mention that Kurt is one of the most decorated teachers in our district. His Kindergarten curriculum is known nationally. Look up his ted talk if you get a chance, it's amazing!

Aug. 29, 2012, 7:51:01 am

Larry Arreola said...

Congratulations Kurt Scwengel upon being chosen as the new head baseball coach at Samohi. You are a good pick . What is sad is that , from what I can tell, the previous coach Sheldon Philip-Guide has still not been told why he was fired. Unless you consider "going in a different direction as a reason". The previous coach raised a lot od money for the program and took his team to the playoffs three years in a row.; and its pathetic that the Athletic Director and Principal have not told the coach or his supporters why he was fired. Spineless. Good Luck Coach Scwengel, but watch your back; the last two Samohi head coaches have been fired after succesful 3 year terms supposivly because of a few parent's discontent. I hope the same thing doesn't happen to you. Respectfully, Larry Arreola

Aug. 31, 2012, 4:42:28 pm

Eddie Frierson said...

I think you and I are about the only two non high school teachers to ever take the Samo program. Proud to be in the same company. Undeafeated? Why not? "Because you're that good." :-) Coach Eddie

Sep. 11, 2012, 10:04:11 am

ivan waxman said...

good luck kurt take some of those things mccaffery show you an watch your back i dont trust anyone anymore the big i varsity baseball

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