Los Altos High administrators offered Gabe Stewart the job of head baseball coach at Los Altos High even before he could apply for it.
“They approached me – they wanted an on-campus coach,” said Stewart, an AP History teacher at the school with 18 years of coaching experience. “It was a vote of confidence that they didn’t open (the job) up immediately.”
But Stewart didn’t accept right away – he needed his children’s consent first.
“I talked to my kids, and they both said do it,” said Stewart, who has a 6-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son. “The kids come first – if they weren’t happy, I wasn’t going to do it.”
Stewart, hired July 4 to replace Donnie Ecker, stepped down as Mountain View High’s coach in 2011 after four years to spend more time with his children.
“They wanted me around more,” Stewart said. “But they’re older now and are OK with it.”
Stewart eased his way back into coaching the past two seasons as an assistant to Ecker, who resigned in June to take a job at Bakersfield College.
While Stewart said he has “a different style than Donnie,” he doesn’t anticipate making sweeping changes to the program. Stewart noted that four assistant coaches have committed to return, leaving him in need of only a frosh-soph head coach.
“Donnie did a really good job, but there are a few things we need to clean up,” said Stewart, who acknowledged that there was a communication problem last season.
Kim Cave, Los Altos High athletic director, is elated that Stewart agreed to take over the team. Prior to his stint at Mountain View, he coached the Eagles’ frosh-soph team for 12 years.
“I am thrilled that coach Stewart will be guiding our baseball program,” she said. “He is a great coach, teacher and positive motivator. We are fortunate to have him.”
Stewart inherits a squad that went 15-16 and reached the Central Coast Section quarterfinals after placing sixth in the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League De Anza Division.
Eleven players are expected to return: Thomas Kelleher, Paul Myers, Brennan Myers, Trevor Rogers, Adam Spielman, Patrick McColl, Noah Tsao, Josh Kirshenbaum, Daniel Pefley, Billy Berman and Ryan Espiritu.
“We hope to take what we’ve got and maximize it,” Stewart said. “Who knows? Maybe we can shock some people.”