Second Yucca Valley Athletic Coach Leaving

For the third time in three months, the head coach of a major sport at Yucca Valley High School has made a precipitous departure from his assignment.
John Stewart, who earlier in the academic 2019-20 year guided the Trojans to their first gridiron victory over rival Twentynine Palms High School in 15 years, announced on Monday he was departing from Yucca Valley to take what he referred to as his “dream job” coaching at Big Bear High School.
2019 had been Stewart’s first year as the Trojan’s football coach. He had done an exemplary job, leading the team to an overall 7-4 record and a Desert Valley League Championship last fall, and into the California Interscholastic Federation playoffs. It was widely thought that he would remain in place for some time to come.
Stewart had previously been the head coach at Victor Valley High School in Victorville and Silver High School in Yermo prior to that.
He reportedly told Yucca Valley High School Principal Justin Monical that he was leaving for Big Bear both because of what he felt the mountain community offered and because he did not consider Yucca Valley to be a “good fit” for his family.
Unstated was the contretemps in the Yucca Valley High School athletics program, most prominently the way Jay Stepp was removed from his position as head coach for the track and field team at Yucca Valley High School in February after he had been in that position for 27 years.
Stepp had gotten crosswise with Monical and the Morongo Unified School District over his objection to Holly Brimhall remaining as his assistant coach. Stepp maintained that Holly Brimhall undercut his authority as coach with several of his athletes. There were familial issues involved. Loryn Brimhall, a junior this year, is a distance runner for the Trojans who did not have much of a chance to compete this year because the coronavirus crisis brought an early end to the track and field season. She had several near record-breaking times in the 1600 meters and 800 meters events last year. Brad Brimhall had been the Trojans’ baseball coach. When differences developed between Stepp and Holly Brimhall, Brad Brimhall had taken the side of Holly Brimhall, and several emails from him, described variously as “unfortunate” or “ill-conceived” and “tartly-worded” became public. He was terminated as baseball coach on what was said to be an unrelated matter relating to his discipline of a player in early February. Stewart was brought in to replace him.
-Mark Gutglueck

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