The man known for coaching the Los Altos High baseball team to its only Central Coast Section title is hanging up his fungo bat.
Sandy Wihtol tendered his resignation as the school’s head baseball coach Sept. 10, notifying athletic director Kim Cave that he could not maintain the same level of commitment he has given for the past 16 seasons. In addition to coaching the varsity sport at Los Altos High, Wihtol has a challenging career as a local realtor.
“It is with regret that at this time in my life, I cannot give that same 100 percent effort any longer with being the head baseball coach,” Wihtol stated in an email announcing his resignation. “To not provide that would not be right for the program or fair to the players who we as coaches expect the same 100 percent effort when they wear their LAHS baseball jerseys.”
Reached by the Town Crier, Wihtol said his decision wasn’t easy but something he thought about during the 2012 season. That thought turned into reality, he added, after spending the summer trying to “restart the batteries” following the 2012 season. The Eagles ended the year with a narrow 3-2 loss to St. Ignatius in the second round of the Central Coast Section Division II playoffs.
“When summer ended and school started again, I had to be honest with myself,” said Wihtol, who carved out a three-year playing career in the late 1970s and early 1980s as a relief pitcher for the Cleveland Indians. “If I can’t give it 100 percent, then that’s not the program the kids and I built.”
In recounting his coaching career, Wihtol recalled one fateful memory – the day former Los Altos High athletic director Monica Lodge hired him in 1997.
“When Monica Lodge hired me, she said it would take 10 years to turn over the program,” Wihtol recalled. “I said, ‘No way.’”
Ten years later, Wihtol won the CCS Division II baseball championship – the school’s first and only baseball title to date.
Wihtol said he approached the 2012 season with a goal of treasuring each moment, knowing it might be his last go-around as the school’s head coach.
“You’ve got to savor the moments, and I really did last year,” said Wihtol, who will continue to volunteer his time to the program to smooth the transition to a new head coach.
Wihtol noted that his decision wasn’t solely based on another life-changing event that occurred in July, when his 31-year-old daughter Jessica passed away. Wihtol added that he’s looking forward to spending his newfound spare time with his family and his first grandchild, due in December.
Since announcing his resignation, Wihtol said he has received countless emails and text messages from parents, former and current players, and other supporters thanking him for his 16 years at the helm of the school’s baseball program.
“It makes me really appreciate all of the support I’ve received over the years,” he said. “I’ve been really blessed to have a supportive group of parents and players. That’s the hardest part.”