Santa Maria High School has suffered the loss of a popular and enthusiastic coach.

David Tyler Sr., 44, died early this week, the Santa Maria Joint Unified High School District learned.

A cause of death was not listed.

Tyler was a Santa Maria High School alumnus who began his coaching career with the school district in 2008.

He is the second youthful Santa Maria High School coach to pass away in less than a year. Another popular Saints coach, girls basketball coach Eddie Gutierrez, died of an abdominal aneurysm last March at age 47. 

A walk-on coach, Tyler was an assistant track and field coach at his alma mater last year and the boys cross country coach this year. Shortly after his death, Santa Maria students showed their affection for him through various social media networks.

Under Tyler's watch, the numbers in the Santa Maria boys cross country program increased, and his son, David Tyler Jr., qualified for the CIF Southern Section Division I Cross Country Preliminaries that took place last Saturday. 

At a team practice just before the season started, David Tyler Sr. spoke enthusiastically about how hard his runners had been working.

He added, "We have about 30 boys, and those are great numbers for the boys runners."

The coach also said participation in Santa Maria High School athletics had increased "across the board."

He gave credit for that to second-year SMHS Athletic Director Brian Wallace. "He's doing a great job," David Tyler Sr. said at the workout.

David Tyler Sr. was animated during meets, fervently urging his runners on.

Shortly after the Los Padres League Finals at Cabrillo High School concluded, he scanned the results. When he saw that his team had finished sixth in the final league standings he said enthusiastically, "We'll take it."

In a release issued by the SMJUHSD, Santa Maria principal Joe Domingues described David Tyler Sr. as "a lifelong Saint."

Domingues said in the release, "He was committed to student improvement both athletically and academically. We are saddened and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends."

Wallace said in the release that David Tyler Sr., "bonded easily with athletes and coaches alike.

"I will miss his gregarious nature," said Wallace who, according to the release, coached with and against his former colleague for a decade. Wallace was a longtime Santa Ynez High School cross country and track coach before he came to Santa Maria last year.

"He was hardworking and truly interested in helping kids achieve their best," Wallace said of David Tyler Sr. "It was common to see David talking with kids and instructing them long after practice times were over. David cultivated a family atmosphere in his practices."

Counseling services are available for students and staff. 

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Sports Reporter