After two decades of unparalleled success as the school’s first and only athletic director (later head of athletics), Jan Hethcock is handing over the reins and scaling down his role at Oaks Christian School. Hethcock will remain on part time as an athletic consultant to the new head of athletics, Brad Cook, who joins Oaks Christian July 1.
Hethcock leaves on a high note: the girls and boys track and field team captured two historic 50th and 51st CIF championship titles in June, capping a phenomenal athletic growth trajectory under his leadership.
To date, the Lions have earned 169 league titles, five California state championships, two Gatorade state players of the year, and launched the athletic careers of two alumni who became Olympians.
After building Oaks Christian into a nationally recognized athletic powerhouse, Hethcock notified the school of his desire to “step back” while assisting the transition to the next head of athletics.
“Jan’s legacy speaks for itself,” said Head of School Rob Black. “His love for God, student-athletes, all things sports-related and his colleagues has greatly influenced and enriched our program development and school culture.”
Prior to Oaks Christian, he served as the men’s head soccer coach at Point Loma, was athletic director at three elementary school in San Diego County, served as the commissioner for San Diego County Christian Schools, and as commissioner South Coast Junior High Sports League. As the AD at Christian High in San Diego, his school was selected by Cal High Sports as the best athletic program in the state with an enrollment below 1,500. Hethcock has also coached softball.
He has coached well over 1,000 games in his career, including soccer for 10 years. He was selected at the Southern California Athletic Director of the year in 2014 and has been selected as CIF Women’s Soccer Coach of the year five times. His greatest joy has been to coach his grandchildren.
In his final year at Oaks Christian, Hethcock shared his thoughts on his long tenure.
What were the early years like for athletics at Oaks?
It was very exciting to be able to start a brand-new program, with about 156 students. We knew every student and it was a lot of fun. I started working with Jeff Woodcock in San Diego in the fall of 1999 even though I was not officially on the books. We started to put on paper what the athletic department might look like with 9th and 10th graders for the first year and how we would build the department from there. On February 1, 2000 I came on board full time. One of the best decisions I have ever made. I believe this was a move completely orchestrated by God.
What have been the most enjoyable and rewarding aspects of being an athletic administrator?
Being able to share Christ with kids, pray with them, mentor them in Biblical principles, watch them grow and mature through athletics, celebrate with them and encourage them when they get down. Also, hiring coaches who love the Lord and want to be a positive influence in the lives of their athletes. I love the opportunity to mentor coaches and help them grow stronger in the sport they coach. Watching the school grow and athletics becoming a powerhouse in the community has also been rewarding. My most enjoyable AD years have been the past 20+ years at OC. I love our school.
How have you seen high school athletics change in your time?
Over my last 46 years I have seen an immense improvement in athletic equipment for the weight rooms, strength and conditioning coaches, athletic trainers for injury prevention and for rehabbing injured athletes. Also, coaching certifications, along with all the new medical awareness programs for coaches. The level of the competition has grown greater, there is a lot more parent involvement, an increase in college coaches on campus and the advancement of girls’ sports.
What has remained the same?
Students transferring from school to school for the so-called “perfect fit.”
What motivated you each day to come in and fulfil your role?
Every day is different. With so many teams and coaches, along with games, almost every day brings a lot of moving parts. These moving parts just don’t happen to fit easily: there needs to be someone in control. Being able to partner with a tremendous staff and work together to ensure the daily puzzle pieces fit together can be challenging and extremely rewarding at the same time. An athletic department like Oaks Christian cannot be operated by one person. We have a great athletic staff and I am very pleased to be a part of it.
What’s the best advice you can give to young men and women athletes?
Every day is a gift from God. Give your all every day, 100% every day, you cannot make up tomorrow what you did not give today. Enjoy the process, enjoy your teammates, thank your coaches and be very grateful for the athletic ability the Lord has given you. Honor the Lord in how you practice and play the game, be a Christ-like example to your team and the opposing team. Give your parents a hug every day and thank them for sending them to Oaks Christian.
How does athletics play a role in faith and character formation?
My faith in Jesus means everything to me. If I profess to be a Christian and do not display Christian character, I am showing everyone around me that I am a hypocrite. I cannot give a devotion on self-control and then go out and be a screaming, obnoxious verbally abusive coach or an AD. My character must be a Christ-like reflection of my faith and belief in my Savior, Jesus.
What have you learned over the years as an athletic administrator?
- Start your day in God’s word and prayer. Look for opportunities to help others daily and to share Christ with others
- Keep your family second, right behind God
- Don’t have knee jerk reactions
- Be open to hearing what people have to say
- Be flexible. If you’re not, you will live a stressful life
- Don’t take negative comments personally
- Be organized and on top of your game every day
- Hire the smartest people you can on your staff, so your staff meetings are always looking for ways to improve the program and to help keep you sharp and current
- Do not micro-manage. Let others do their jobs
- Give credit where credit is due and be humble. We are all in this together.