What does a school look for when it hires a coach? Desert Vista had it right two decades ago when it hired Stan Luketich to guide its baseball program.
All Luketich did in 21 years is help bring two state championships, winning baseball and a heaping, helping of respect --- from peers, players, umpires, media. Well, just about everybody.
Suddenly at the conclusion of Year 21 it's over. Desert Vista relieved Luketich of his duties just a day after the Thunder's late-season surge to a state tournament berth fell a game short.
Two days before that loss, Desert Vista was a hit, bobble, wild pitch away from winning a fifth straight game and wresting its region title away from Corona del Sol and Mountain Pointe. This after being given up for dead three weeks earlier.
Stan Luketich has coached the same way since he arrived at Desert Vista -- a strict, no-nonsense disciplinarian with players' best interests at heart. So what changed to see a school usher him out the door? It's a head scratcher.
Luketich was urged by administration earlier this month to retire. He responded he wasn't ready to retire. If he didn't, he'd be fired at season's end. DV followed through.
Reasons given. The team wasn't playing with passion. Luketich was too hard on the boys (difficult to imagine parents didn't have the ear of administration on that). And the finale -- Luketich didn't know how to coach millennials.
Luketich is demanding, but fair with players whether it's teaching baseball, instilling discipline or setting an example of how to treat your fellow man. He expects players respect the game, coaches, teammates at all times. No one is more respectful of others than Stan Luketich.
So what has Desert Vista done? It's shown a disdain for respect and character that Luketich exhibits every day -- far and away more crucial to kids and their life during and after baseball that those who have played for him either figured out later or exhibited when they graduated. Those are attributes the AIA strives to see member schools reward, not reject.
Stan Luketich is old school. No arguing that. The kind of person who should be coveted these days, not shown the door. His school is one I would readily attend.