Disappointment with how his beloved soccer field - named in his honor - was allowed to deteriorate during the summer led to Ashley Yudin's decision to resign after 19 seasons and much success as the Davis High School boys soccer coach.
Yudin said he resigned Monday and his resignation was accepted by Davis Joint Unified School District school board trustees on Thursday night. But a public announcement wasn't made until today.
"I knew this was going to be my last year, and I was planning on making an announcement as the season progressed," Yudin told The Bee. "But when the condition of the field nose-dived, I just felt it was time to let somebody else be the coach. I'm 64. It's time."
In an e-mail to The Bee this morning, Davis Athletic Director Dennis Foster said that veteran JV coach Alex Park will be the interim varsity coach this season.
Foster also said that former varsity assistant coach Jason dal Porto will be the interim JV coach.
Yudin, a native of Texas who was a longtime research associate at UC Davis, is a soccer coaching icon in the Davis community.
His boys teams earned six Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championships, including last fall's 5-3 penalty-kick win over rival Jesuit. He also coached the Davis High girls program from 1993 to 1998.
But when Yudin Field was temporarily closed Aug. 1 after much of the grass had died because of construction snafus at a nearby campus parking lot, Yudin said it was time to move his retirement up a season.
"It was just the perfect storm as far as things that could go wrong," Yudin said. "They were putting solar panels over the parking lot and the water main was twice broken. The field went two or three weeks without water, then there were four more breaks. Watching that field die was heartbreaking to me."
Said Foster in an e-mail response: "We have wonderful facilities here at Davis...While this situation has been stressful for our grounds personnel and athletic department, DJUSD is exhausting maintenance resources to restore our facilities. I wish our historically successful coach, Ashley the best in retirement..."
While Yudin thought that Foster and the administration could have been more pro-active in dealing with the problem, he leaves with good memories and says the program will be in good hands with Park, a former Sacramento State player, and dal Porto, a Davis High grad who played for Yudin.
But Yudin will miss coaching against his friend and Jesuit rival Paul Rose.
Last year, Davis ended Jesuit's two-year run as D-I section champions with the penalty kick win after earlier in the season snapping the Marauders' then-national leading consecutive victory streak of 68 matches with a 1-1 tie in Carmichael.
"I realized only today that my last game at the high school was magical for me and the kids," Yudin said. "They definitely weren't my best team talent-wise, but they had tremendous heart.
"We had a great rivalry with Jesuit because we both wanted to be the king of the mountain. It was a class rivalry. I'll always remember those great matches."
Yudin, who started his career at Davis High in 1986 as an assistant girls coach, says he will continue to coach youth teams while serving as director of coaching of the Davis Legacy Soccer Club.
His daughter, Sara Stone, is the Davis High girls coach.