Todd Heil
Todd Heil, who guided the Santa Barbara High boys soccer program to three CIF-SS championships, a CIF State Regional title and 17 Channel League titles in 21 years, is the new athletic director at the school. (Noozhawk file photo)

Longtime boys soccer coach Todd Heil has been named the athletic director at Santa Barbara High, Principal Elise Simmons told Noozhawk on Tuesday.

Heil has guided the Dons varsity soccer team for 21 years, winning 431 games, 16 Channel League titles and three CIF-Southern Section championships, including the Division 1 crown in 2018. He’s also won a CIF State Regional title.

Three times he’s been named the CIF Coach of the Year.

In 2010 and 2011, the National Soccer Coaches Association of America named him the California High School Coach of the Year and the Far West Regional High School Coach of the Year.

“I’m honored and humbled to be the next athletic director of Santa Barbara High School,” Heil said in a statement. “I want to sincerely thank Dr. Simmons and the interview committee for this exciting opportunity.”

Heil replaces Joe Chenoweth, who announced in April that he was stepping down after eight years at the job and moving into a teaching position.

Heil is also a social science and history teacher at SBHS. In addition, he’s coached the women’s club soccer team at UCSB.

A 1996 graduate of UCSB, Heil received his BA in history with a minor in athletic coaching.

He took the reins of the highly successful Santa Barbara High boys soccer program from local soccer legend and SBHS alum Rudy Ybarra in 1999.

Simmons is impressed with the qualities Heil will bring to the AD position.

“Todd is also highly organized, loves students, has a deep understanding of athletics, and is passionate about SBHS,” she said.

Heil said his years of coaching experience has prepared him for the new job.

“While I’m not naive to think that I know everything about being an athletic director, I do believe that my 21 years of experience of successfully running the boy’s soccer program will help me in certain aspects of the job,” he said. “I understand first hand what our outstanding coaches go through on a daily basis to run their programs.  One of my first priorities will be to see not just how I can help them, but what I might be able to take off their plate in order to allow them more time to focus on their programs and their professional growth.”

Heil last season was named a CIF Model Coach of the Year. The award recognizes coaches who have served as positive role models in their schools and communities, and who have exhibited the traits apparent in the 16 principals of the CIF’s mission statement of Pursuing Victory with Honor.

“Coach Heil demands each player represent the values instilled in the program, including being respectful, honest, trustworthy and accountable for one’s actions not only on the field of play but in the classroom as well,” CIF Executive Director Roger L. Blake said when he presented the award in March 2019.

Heil takes over an athletic program that will unveil a renovated Peabody Stadium once prep sports are permitted to be played again.

All high school sports in the state were stopped and school campuses closed in mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Once the students are allowed to return campus and sports teams get the go-ahead from health officials and the school district to practice and play games, Heil will have to find coaching replacements for boys soccer, girls soccer and softball.

“I continue to be optimistic that we will get sports back at some point this year, but it’s important to remember that our No. 1 priority is for the safety of our students and staff, ” he said. “So, we have to make sure that whenever we are allowed to get back on the field, on the courts, in the pool or in the gym that we are able to do it safely.” 

Highly respected in the prep soccer world and on campus, Heil is looking forward to representing the entire athletic department at Santa Barbara High.

“Santa Barbara High School is a school rich in athletic tradition with incredibly supportive and passionate alumni,” he said. “I look forward to being in a position to help all of our outstanding coaches and student-athletes and to share in the journey of each of our programs.

“I view my new position as athletic director as an opportunity to give back to a school that has given me so much over the past 21 years.”

Heil admits it’s hard to step down as boys soccer coach, but he feels “it’s a perfect time for a new coach to have a truly new beginning in a brand new stadium.”

He thanked Dons Ritchie Alcaraz, Carlos Cuellar, Gerardo Lopez and Hector Rodriguez, “who have dedicated so much over the years to help the boys’ soccer program continue to be as successful as it is. 

“And, a big thank you to Alfredo Martinez, who has been with me with the varsity team for 18 years.  A lot of our success in our program is due to the consistency of our staff and Freddy has been an instrumental part in that. I can’t thank him enough for the years of commitment he has given to our program.”

Simmons feels Heil is the right fit for the job.

“With his background, skills, and positive energy, I am truly excited for the future of our school community and our athletic program.”

Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at bpunzal@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Barry Punzal, Sports Editor

— Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at bpunzal@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.