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La Jolla High’s new athletic director brings sports passion to post

Paula Conway.
Paula Conway.

By Ashley Mackin

Coming from the Midwest, La Jolla High School’s new athletic director Paula Conway said she has a passion for sports. As she tells it, during football season, her hometown in Ohio would shut down on Friday nights. “Everything revolved around high school athletics,” she said.

“I’m used to people gearing their whole social life according to sports and going to all the games. That’s how I grew up.”

Paula Conway.
Paula Conway.

And that’s exactly what Conway — the first female A.D. ever appointed at LJHS — would like to see happen in La Jolla.

“La Jolla has a lot of success, which is exciting; I’d love to just make it more of a community feel,” she said. Conway hopes to unify all the coaches and athletes in the department to pool resources and to garner support for each other’s sports. For example, during the off-season, members of one team could rally for LJHS athletics as a whole by going to a game from a different sport.

Additionally, Conway said she wants to reach out to the elementary schools and youth clubs to get La Jolla children excited about playing for La Jolla High one day. She said she wants to foster that athletic development up to and through high school, and “grow” young athletes to be future Vikings.

Conway herself “grew” into sports, her father was a football coach and her two older brothers played on the team.

“I’ve always been in an athletic family,” she said. In high school, she played field hockey and basketball, and ran track. Her success in field hockey earned her a scholarship to Providence College, which is in the Big East Conference. While there, Conway earned accolades such as College All-American, Big East Player of the Year, and Rookie of the Year.

At Providence, she also earned a teaching credential in English and physical education, and used the latter to coach at Georgetown, Kent State and Boston College. “Through my experiences playing at the high school level, coaching at the high school level and coaching at the collegiate level, I pull in a lot of global experience to build upon La Jolla’s success,” she said.

She moved to Pacific Beach in 2006 and began teaching in Escondido. When she heard about an opening at La Jolla High in 2007, Conway said she jumped on it and began teaching English. She made her way into teaching PE and coaching the field hockey team.

Because the San Diego Unified School District can’t afford a full-time athletic director, Conway will integrate A.D. duties into her teaching and coaching work. Some of those responsibilities include: overseeing the athletic department in terms of athlete eligibility, budgeting, handling transfers, hiring coaches and working with the La Jolla High School Foundation and PTA to get added financial support. To all this, she says, “Bring it on.”

“It’ll be a lot of work, but I have a great foundation to build on and there are so many sports that are already successful. I’m really excited about this opportunity,” Conway said.

She said she feels invigorated by the challenge and by being the first female athletic director at La Jolla High. Acknowledging that most people think of an athletic director as a job for a male, Conway said wants her appointment to be a motivator for young female athletes. “I hope it will empower more women to say ‘hey, I can do anything I want,’ if they work hard. I think if anything, it will help the female students have a good role model.”

La Jolla High School Fall Sports • Season Openers

Home Field: Gene Edwards Stadium, 750 Nautilus St.

■ Varsity and JV football scrimmages: Aug. 17

■ Girls Golf: Aug. 19

■ Varsity and JV Field Hockey: Aug. 30

■ Girls Cross Country: Aug. 31

■ Girls Volleyball: Aug. 31

■ Boys Water Polo: Sept. 3

■ Freshman Football: Sept. 12

■ Girls Varsity Tennis: Sept. 12

■ Boys Cross Country: Sept. 13