Stan Luketich, who started Phoenix Desert Vista’s baseball program in 1996 and led the Thunder to two state championships, has been fired.
Luketich, who has coached baseball for 42 years, said he was told by Desert Vista administration that “you do not effectively communicate with Millennials.”
“On April 3, I was called into the athletic director’s office and (T.J. Snyder) said you need to seriously consider resigning at the end of the year,” Luketich said. “One week later, I met with the principal (Christine Barela) and the athletic director and they asked me to resign. Both times I said I would not resign.”
‘Someone said your kids don’t play with passion’
Luketich said he asked the school’s athletic director to provide a reason for forcing him out after more than 40 years as a coach.
“He said, ‘Your kids don’t play with passion and energy.’ I said where do you come up with that? He said he went to an AD meeting and a colleague told him that.”
Snyder responded in an email.
“After much consideration about the future of the Desert Vista baseball program, a decision was made to go in a new direction,” Snyder wrote. “We thank Mr. Luketich for his service and wish him well.”
Luketich informed his players that he had coached his final game on Wednesday, after Desert Vista (14-14-1) lost to Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor in a 6A Conference state tournament “play-in” game on Wednesday.
Luketich, who doesn’t know how many wins he has had over the course of his career, said he still wants to coach.
“I’ve had a couple of high school coaches talk to me (Thursday) and see if I’d join their program,” he said. “I love working with kids. If I choose to do that, I would love to do that again.”
Decades of success
Luketich was head coach at Phoenix Moon Valley before Desert Vista opened. He led Desert Vista to state championships at the highest level in 1999 and 2001. He had Desert Vista in the state championship game three consecutive seasons from 1999-2001.
He also was an assistant football coach under the late Earl Putman at Moon Valley for 14 years.
Luketich coached Moon Valley’s baseball team to the 1989 state championship.
One of his greatest players at Desert Vista was shortstop Corey Myers, the 1999 Arizona Republic Player of the Year, who was taken by the Diamondbacks as the fourth-overall pick of the major league baseball draft that summer.