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Aaron Quesnell takes over as La Jolla High School athletic director

Aaron Quesnell is the newly appointed athletic director at La Jolla High School.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

During his time as La Jolla High School’s girls golf coach, self-described “sports person” Aaron Quesnell often was taken away from the Vikings’ field, track, pool and courts because games were played on golf courses in other areas.

But as the school’s newly appointed athletic director, he plans to watch all the sports from the sidelines and perpetuate a culture of athletes who respect the games, officials and one another.

Quesnell takes over from former AD Paula Conway, who was hired earlier this year by The Bishop’s School, also in La Jolla. Quesnell has been at La Jolla High since 2004, teaching biology, physics and the principles of biomedical science for freshmen and coaching girls golf for the past 11 years and boys golf for the past five.

“My goal in taking over for Paula Conway, who did an amazing job of establishing a great culture of sports, is to continue that,” he said. “We do things that are great for the kids and help put them in a position to do well in not only their sport, but succeed when they get away from their sport so they can look back on the experience and the lessons they learned from it. My goal is to keep that rolling.”

A big part of that, he said, is for La Jolla High to have teams that “other teams like to play because we are respectful, good quality, with good kids and good coaches. I don’t want people to think we are above anyone else or have some superiority complex. We want to have good athletes.”

Quesnell said athletes often are looked up to by other students and always represent the school when they compete. “We want them to remember that on and off the field,” he said.

For Quesnell, driving that point home is personal.

He played soccer and Little League baseball as a child and didn’t always model respect for the officials. “Like all kids, I got upset at officials and did things I maybe shouldn’t have done,” he said. “One time, I blew up at an official because I was upset at the call. My coach sat me down and reminded me that my mom was watching and I was representing my family. He asked if that’s how I wanted to be seen.”

When he was just 12, his parents put him in classes to learn how to referee soccer games and umpire baseball games. “I got a firsthand look into how hard it is to officiate games,” he said. “After that, I decided to never act [disrespectfully] again. Now I like to preach respect for officials, the other team, the fans, etc. I’m very big on that.”

In high school, Quesnell ran track and played soccer. In college, he raced bikes.

After one college year, he developed mononucleosis and decided to slow down and try golf.

“I raced bikes on a team that was sponsored by a golf club company,” he said. “So when I couldn’t ride my bike anymore, I picked up the clubs the company gave us and loved it. … I had no real plans to do it and it just fell into my lap.”

Years later, while he was teaching, La Jolla High needed a new girls golf coach and one of the players was in Quesnell’s class, so she asked him. “I learned the game and course management, [and] we hired a great swing coach that will actually take over the golf teams. It’s been a great ride,” he said.

Quesnell will be focusing on the immediate issue of coronavirus management. “It’s a new wrinkle that changes daily,” he said. “What’s acceptable at 8 a.m. will change by 1 p.m. That’s been a hurdle.

“I work a lot with the nurse, who works with the district nurse, and work with CIF people [California Interscholastic Federation, the governing body for high school sports in the state]. It’s constant communication. I use my phone now more than I ever have before in trying to figure out the latest protocols, what to do if we have a positive case, how to contact-trace, so I can pass it along to the coaches.”

Quesnell likes to spend his downtime with sons William and Lucas and wife Jessica.

“If I had my choice, I would get my wife and kids to play golf with me,” he said. “That’s my next step.” ◆