Anthony Chan is determined to give South Pasadena High’s athletic program the same reputation it has in academics, which is among the best in the state.
Shoring up some sports is a top priority as he looks to improve the school’s performance level mostly in football and boys’ basketball – the two revenue generating programs drawing the largest amount of supporters.
The Tigers’ football team came away with only three victories in 2018. South Pasadena High’s boys’ basketball team finished 7-19 overall. The baseball team went 3-12 overall last season, including an 0-12 mark in the Rio Hondo League, the school’s softball team recorded one league victory in 12 outings over the spring and the boys’ tennis team is coming off a 3-8 overall mark, including a 1-6 league record.
While the Tigers continue to mount success in cross country, volleyball, soccer, water polo, and track and field, new SPHS Athletic Director Anthony Chan is on a mission to raise the bar for the South Pasadena High athletic program.
“In the short term, I’m looking to bring stability and efficiency to our programs,” explained the new AD who replaces Greg Luna, who held the job for five years. Chan has begun to fill a couple openings for head coaching positions with “passionate and enthusiastic” individuals to mentor SPHS student-athletes.
The newest came on board this week as Chan announced the hiring of Ernest Baskerville as the school’s new basketball coach. Baskerville has had head coaching assignments at Burbank High, La Salle, Providence and Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies. He also served as an assistant at College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita.
In the long term, Chan said he hopes to build community support around the Tigers’ athletics program. “There is always a lot of buzz about the great things that South Pasadena students do academically, and I want to build the same type of enthusiasm for athletics,” he said. “I want to highlight the great student athletes who have come through our program as well as current student accomplishments.”
Chan said he will continue working with the school’s Booster Club, weekly bingo – key fundraising component – and local businesses to support SPHS athletic programs “and give our student-athletes top-quality equipment, coaches, and the facilities that they deserve,” he said.
When the job opportunity opened up a few months ago, it took about a day before those closest to Chan began to ask if he would apply for the position “primarily because of my reputation as someone who cares about student experiences outside the classroom,” he explained. “I’m excited to apply my enthusiasm for student experiences outside of the classroom to this position and to celebrate the success that student athletes experience through athletics.”
Chan chose teaching as a career because he sought a well-rounded experience. Athletically, he enjoyed the challenge of training to become a better athlete and the thrill of friendly competition. Chan played football and competed in the shot put at Temple City High before attending college at U.C. Irvine.
Several years ago, C.B. Richards asked him to join the South Pasadena High coaching staff in football and track. He began helping with the track program during the 2014 -2015 season, and in football during the 2015 season.
Winning, noted Chan, is a byproduct of hard work, efficiency, and an understanding of the game’s fundamentals. “You will never win every game, but students should feel well prepared going into every game in order to be successful,” he said. “In high school athletics, I’ve found that that overcoming adversity is the biggest take-away from competition. The resilience of a team, the coaches, and the community to overcome losses and continue to push through tough seasons is a life lesson in grit.”
Chan said his best experiences in coaching have “never been the seasons or matches where it was an easy win, but seasons where the team overcame difficulties and fought through using the best of their abilities,” he said. “Student-athletes take away lessons in those times of stress that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. I’m sure many of us could say the same about our high school athletics’ experiences and how learning to push forward and persevere is a valuable lesson.”
His first official day on the job is July 1, but Chan has been learning the in-and-outs of the position from Luna in recent months, noting that his predecessor “has been an amazing professional and is helping me transition and learn more about our athletics programs before summer practices begin,” for fall teams, Chan said. “I’m excited to work with coaches and student-athletes outside the classroom. To me, the high-school experience isn’t just the classroom, but also all the extracurricular activities for students. I hope to create positive experiences for the athletes, offer efficiently run programs, build a strong community foundation, and establish clear communications between students, parents, teachers, and the community.”