Los Altos High officials didn’t have to look far to find their next varsity baseball coach. Athletic Director Kim Cave announced Friday that Donnie Ecker – the team’s head assistant coach the past two seasons – has been hired to replace Sandy Wihtol.
“I am very excited to have Donnie take over the reins as our head varsity baseball coach,” Cave said. “He has an incredible vision for this program that will build the athletes’ characters on and off the field. His approach to the game will develop our players to be successful in all aspects of life.”
Ecker is a 2004 graduate of Los Altos High who starred in baseball and football. He played for Wihtol, who announced his resignation in September after a successful 16-year career as coach that included 11 playoff appearances and the team’s only Central Coast Section title.
Wihtol said he was “proud and happy” to have Ecker replace him.
Ecker intends to continue the high standards set by Wihtol.
“The Los Altos baseball program has always been family to me, and seeing where coach Wihtol took this program from to where it is now is truly amazing,” Ecker said. “This program gets special student-athletes to work with, and when you have this many lives you can impact on a daily basis, it is a huge responsibility and privilege that I am very blessed to now lead.”
Ecker takes over a team coming off a 22-9 season that concluded with a loss to St. Ignatius in the CCS Division II quarterfinals. The Eagles shared the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League De Anza Division title with Palo Alto.
“Donnie’s expertise will definitely be a driving force to continuing this winning program,” Cave said.
As for his plans for the program, Ecker said, “I am bringing in a complete process-oriented system that is focused 100 percent around maximizing the day. We want our student-athletes to compete in all phases of the day – academically, on the field, in the community and with their families. We want to control what we can control, which is always our immediate performance, and we want to embrace adversity.”
Ecker has only two years experience as a coach, but he has been involved with baseball most of his life. An all-league infielder and pitcher for Los Altos, he played college ball for Long Beach State (2005) and Santa Clara University (2006). Ecker was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds out of high school and by the Texas Rangers in 2007. He played five seasons of pro ball – three in the Rangers’ organization and two internationally.
In addition to coaching at Los Altos, Ecker has spent the past two summers as the hitting coach for the Los Gatos Legends, the two-time Colt Little League World Series champions.