Press Luncheon: Deserved praise falls on local coaches

UCSB Swim Team and Water Polo team members

Members of the UCSB swimming and water polo teams attended Monday’s press luncheon. From L to R: Samantha Murphy, Bryn Hudson, Sophia Yamauchi, Marissa Neel and Kimmie Kreuzberger

Coaching matters. That much was evident at Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table press luncheon as more than one speaker took the time to praise the influence of coaches making a difference.

It started with San Marcos High School’s Phil Womble Award recipient Anastasia Kunz.

“It?s been an honor to participate in San Marcos athletics,? Kunz said. ?All the coaches, all the students, all the athletes that participate are really fun to be around and are a pleasure to work with. The coaches are really motivational and very helpful, always willing to offer advice and anything I ask, so thank you.?

The Round Table presents the Phil Womble Ethics in Sports Award to student-athletes who demonstrate the highest standards of ethics and sportsmanship. Each school selects a junior on an annual basis.

Kunz was presented by former Royals Athletic Director Bob Archer and San Marcos teacher and coach Marilyn Hantgin.

Ray and Sandy Stevens

Ray and Sandy Stevens

It happened to be the day that San Marcos recognized its Coach of the Year. Athletic Director Abe Jahadhmy introduced Ray Stevens, with wife Sandy, as the Royals’ selection. Stevens has been a long-time coach with the football and wrestling programs.

“The two Stevens share a common bond. That’s caring for the community, the kids, and reaching out to help in any way,” Jahadhmy said. “San Marcos is a better place because of Ray and Sandy.”

UCSB women’s water polo coach Cathy Neushul started her time at the podium by praising the work done by Santa Barbara High aquatics coach Mark Walsh.

Walsh led the Dons girls water polo team to the Division 1 CIF semifinals last week after coaching the boys team to the CIF Championship game in the fall and his girls club team to a national title last summer.

“Kudos to Coach Walsh,” Neushul said.

On a more somber note, Santa Barbara High’s baseball program recently lost one of its cherished coaches and will be honoring the late Simon Chavez prior to Tuesday’s home opener at Eddie Mathews Field.

The Dons are seeking their 15th straight appearance in CIF this season.

“The streak on the CIF is something that we take a lot of pride in,” said Dons coach George Rempe.

Providence Hall has a streak of its own going. The Lions’ girls basketball team has reached its second-straight CIF championship game and will try to bring home its first Southern Section title on Saturday in Santa Ana. Head coach Ernie Quiroz was at the luncheon with players Olivia Johnson and Olivia Barroca.

SM_Auction“For us it’s been a wonderful time,” Quiroz said.

Both of Westmont’s basketball teams are also seeing great success on the hardwood. Each of the regular-season GSAC title holders host conference tournament games this week. The men play on Thursday and the women on Friday.

UCSB swimmer Sophia Yamauchi and Westmont baseball player Tommy Hocutt were announced as Athletes of the Week.

Yamauchi was named MPSF Swimmer of the Year at last week’s MPSF Championships for winning four events. The Gaucho junior won the 200 Individual Medley and the 200 breaststroke. Yamauchi also contributed to UCSB victories in the 200 and 400 medley relays.

UCSB swimming coach Gregg Wilson brought Yamauchi, Marissa Neel and Kimmie Kreuzberger to Harry’s. Wilson takes his men’s team to the Pac-12 Championships that start Sunday in Washington.

Hocutt connected on two walk-off home runs last week as Westmont won four of five games. Hocutt first blasted a grand slam on Thursday, which was then complimented by a two-run game-winner in extra innings on Saturday.

“Our soccer coaches told me they were practicing on the bottom of our campus and heard the field erupt twice on Thursday and Saturday,” said Warriors head coach Robert Ruiz. “So it was kind of a neat experience.”

“Winning in that fashion is stressful, but once it’s all over it’s pretty fun and enjoyable.”


Sophia Yamauchi, UCSB Swimming
Marissa Neel, UCSB Swimming
Kimmie Kreuzberger, UCSB Swimming
Bryn Hudson, UCSB Water Polo
Samantha Murphy, UCSB Water Polo
Connor McManigal, Santa Barbara High Baseball
Toby Minehan, Santa Barbara High Basbeall
Olivia Johnson, Providence Hall Basketball
Olivia Barroca, Providence Hall Basketball
Anastasia Kunz, San Marcos