Anthony Chan, a 28-year-old math teacher and former football and track assistant coach, has been named the new South Pasadena High School (SPHS) athletic director, school officials announced.
Chan, who takes over the AD position from Greg Luna, who held it for five years, starts July 1. Chan, who has taught math at SPHS since 2013, has served as an assistant coach for junior varsity and varsity football and shotput coach for the track and field program. He took a year off from coaching, he said, to concentrate on his master’s in educational administration.
“For me, high school and why I wanted to be an educator was to have the experience of high school, and I think it’s not just in the classroom,” Chan said during a recent interview. “That’s the first thing I did when I became a math teacher is that I wanted to get involved. … When I think about high school and all the things I’ve had, I’ve learned so much but I’ve learned so much also outside the classroom. And that’s what I’m excited to emphasize with the kids. You’re going to learn a lot in the classroom but there’s a lot to learn outside. Sports has done so much for me in terms of the adversity piece. And to me that’s the success you learn in athletics, is you are going to have adverse times in sports, adverse times in life, and how you get through the adversity is the important part.”
Chan was appointed because of his enthusiasm and forward-thinking approach to high school athletics, officials said.
“We are thrilled to announce that Anthony Chan will be leading the athletic program at the high school,” said Superintendent Geoff Yantz in a prepared statement announcing Chan’s appointment. “Mr. Chan brings an enthusiastic, forward-thinking approach that will greatly support and encourage student athletes. His positive outlook and goals for community inclusiveness will keep the program moving in an upward direction.”
Chan said he’s taking over a robust program under Luna and he wants to build on that effort. One thing he said he hopes to strengthen, though, is a stronger bond with the community and parents.
Luna, who was informed last October that he would not be returning as the AD, acknowledged that he was asked to create a parent-advisory ad-hoc group for the sports programs at SPHS. He said that such an advisory panel of parents was not a good idea because there should be boundaries between the sports programs at SPHS and parental input. Besides, he said, parents already have a way to communicate with the athletic director and that’s through the strong booster program and the PTA. Luna also said he was never redirected to form the parental group.
“I told them why I didn’t think it was a good idea,” Luna said. “And I was not redirected to implement the advisory group.”
Chan said, however, that such an ad-hoc group is in the early stages of being formed now. He also said he didn’t have all the information yet about that group but he believed it was important.
“I’m excited to bring a lot of organizational things,” Chan said. “Greg has already brought a great organizational foundation. But I’m excited to move toward a new direction, if possible. I would like to organize communication a little more efficiently between myself, parents and boosters and coaches. In terms of what they need and how I can be more transparent about having that for all stakeholders.”
Luna estimated that 70 percent of the sports programs at So Pas High School produce winning teams and players.
One of the first items on his to-do list is to find a replacement for the girls soccer coach, Tory Lathrop, who also was notified she would not be returning, as well as the basketball coach, Ryan Lee. The basketball program under Lee struggled, finishing fourth in league standings.
The varsity girls soccer program, however, was going in the opposite direction, having won league last season.
“Tory has definitely set our kids up for success,” Chan said. “They are fundamentally sound. I think moving forward we are excited to bring somebody new who will continue to build on her success. The first thing that I have to make sure I do is I’m going to find a great coach for girls soccer and for boys basketball. I definitely thank both of them for their time and effort. I’m excited to bring someone on board. I think we have an amazing pool of candidates that we are starting to look at now. We are in progress.”
The search that ultimately chose Chan as the AD started back in March with an internal job posting. Luna said five years ago he was the only applicant who applied.
Yantz explained the latest process that settled on Chan in an email to The Review.
“I recognize that this position involves interaction with various stakeholders within the community and therefore has led to a curiosity about the hiring process,” Yantz said. “That said, we value confidentially in our hiring practices for all positions, including this one. Please know that our vetting process is a rigorous and collaborative one with multiple steps and oversight. Once all applications have been received, we review to ensure that candidates who are advanced in the process have met the qualifications for the position and advance to the interview phase those whose training, education, and experience appear to provide the best fit with the needs of the position. Interview panels, which may be comprised of administrators, teachers, and classified staff, collaborate and make recommendations for hiring. It is not uncommon for multiple interviews be held with the applicants along with extensive background checks. The school principals make the final selection and recommendation to me based on input from the interview panel and background check. Oversight and coordination for all employment matters is conducted by the Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources.”
So Pas High School Janet Anderson also was pleased with Chan, citing his emphasis on student participation.
“I look forward to the contributions Mr. Chan will continue to make at SPHS in his new position,” Anderson said in a prepared statement. “He has a track record of involvement in the overall school operations with a particular emphasis on student participation and support. Those aspects will serve him well as athletic director, as will his outreach to the larger school community.”
Chan is the chairman of the School Site Council and serves as a member of the leadership team for Challenge Success, a Stanford University program designed to implement school-wide changes to improve student mental health and wellness. He worked as a Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) evaluator and coordinator of the SPHS self-study during the 2016-2017 WASC assessment. Since 2014, Chan has been the junior class advisor, and he also completed three years as the faculty staff club’s social chair.
Chan graduated from the University of California, Irvine, with a degree in mathematics and a concentration in education through the California Teach 4-year initiative. In December 2018, he earned a master’s degree in educational administration from California State University, Los Angeles. He is fluent in Cantonese and also speaks basic German.
In May 2017, the SPHS Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) recognized Chan with an Honorary Service Award. Chan grew up in Temple City, where he participated in the football and track teams and was the student representative on the School Board. Chan was an offensive lineman for the Temple City Rams.