Stability is not a word that could be associated with the Burroughs High baseball program for more than even months.
A scandal that surfaced in April and a coach that was fired last month have served as unfortunate challenges for the Indians players.
But the Burroughs administration is hoping a move this week will bring that much-needed stability back to the program. Kiel Holmes, a former Indians player and Burroughs graduate, has been hired as the new Indians’ coach.
“His absolute strong point is that he knows and understands the community, and I think that’s important,” Burroughs High Principal Emilio Urioste said of Holmes. “He also has solid communication skills that will be important, not only in terms of the student-athletes but in terms of the parents and the booster organization.”
Holmes, 29, a 2003 Burroughs graduate, takes over a program that has been in flux since the firing of former coach Eddie Alvarez on Oct. 31. Alvarez, who spent less than five months as the Indians’ coach after being hired in June was dismissed because of “inconsistent leadership,” according to Urioste.
Alvarez was hired following a well-publicized incident that occurred last season involving the Indians. The school fired the varsity baseball coach and three assistants and canceled the remainder of the season in April after discovering an assistant coach allegedly served players beer during a tournament trip to Arizona.
Indians Coach J.R. Schwer and the assistants, who were all at the mid-March tournament, were fired April 18. Schwer, who said he learned about the incident just three days before he was let go, acknowledged that a large number of players were served alcohol by an assistant coach.
Initially, the 11 players who drank were suspended five days. Seven athletes who were aware of the incident but failed to come forward were given two-day suspensions. The suspensions of the seven players who did not participate were later rescinded.
Holmes, who has served as an assistant coach at Burbank and worked at the Burbank-based West Coach Baseball School, said he is well aware of the struggles the program and its players have endured the past few months.
“It was difficult for me to see Burroughs go through all that, and more importantly it was difficult for me to see these kids go through that,” Holmes said. “Sometimes there are innocent kids who get hurt by the actions of those around them and it definitely hasn’t been an ideal situation for these kids for the last eight or nine months going through all the change.
“I’m looking to come in and bring a little more stability so that the players have the opportunity to look back on their high school careers with a lot of pride instead of looking back and wondering what happened.”
Holmes said since his playing days at Burroughs, he entertained the idea of coming back to coach at his alma mater.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to come back to Burroughs and take over this position,” said Holmes, who played college ball at Ithaca College in New York for one year before an injury halted his career. “I think it’s a great opportunity and I’m thankful for it.”
Holmes played under former coach Jose Valle for one season and under Tom Crowther for three seasons at Burroughs.
“Both of those coaches, especially coach Crowther, really shaped a lot of my baseball mentality and baseball knowledge that I have,” Holmes said. “I also got the opportunity to coach at a young age under Bob Hart at Burbank and I learned a lot from him as well.”
Crowther said he believes Holmes is the right person for the Burroughs job.
“I think it’s really special when an alumni gets the chance to run the program that they played in,” said Crowther, who like Holmes, was a Burroughs player before taking over the head coaching position. “I think he has the right style for what it takes forBurroughs to win. He also has a passion for the game and a passion for Burroughs High School. I think he’s the right guy at the right time.”