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February 8, 2023

Adam Hazel to step down as St. Francis’ athletic director

Longtime coach will remain at school as a full-time teacher, mentor

WATSONVILLE—St. Francis High announced last week that athletic director Adam Hazel will step down from his position at the end of this school year.

Hazel, 38, is in his 10th year as a teacher, coach and administrator at St. Francis. He spent the past seven years as athletic director. 

Hazel said he will transition into a full-time teaching position—he currently teaches both AP Government and Economics—and play a supportive role in the athletic department, something that has been on his radar for some time. 

The move will also allow him to concentrate on his family. 

“Try to be a good dad and a good husband,” he said. “Getting back to full-time teaching kind of helps me there.”

St. Francis Principal Patrick Lee said he and Hazel had talked about this scenario. One of the things they brought up was how much Hazel enjoys coaching his two children—ages 8 and 5—and he wants to be there for them.

“It makes perfect sense,” Lee said. “I always warn people not to be like I was while principal [at] St. John Bosco and be married to work, missing weddings, funerals, anniversaries, birthdays, etc.”

Lee said the school improved its championships and finalists banners by more than 300% in the past 10 years. That includes the boys’ basketball team’s NorCal Division V title in the 2016-17 season.   

Hazel has been instrumental in adding new programs such as wrestling and cheer. He also increased the number of participants and added coaches. 

“Like me, he is passionate about bringing teachers who coach to campus,” Lee said. “This way our mission and vision can be fulfilled.” 

Hazel also supported Lee’s desire to move from the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League to the multi-tieredPacific Coast Athletic League. 

“This transition has been the best for all of our students to increase participation and success,” Lee said. 

Hazel is a leader on PCAL committees including wrestling and softball. He also stepped in and coached the girls’ varsity basketball team twice while the position was vacated. 

“[Hazel] is always willing to step up and help,” Lee said. “He has also been very supportive of our student athletic trainers program attached to our PLTW [Project Lead the Way] biomedical science pathway.”

Lee said that Hazel has been a big supporter of athletic trainer Nicole Sutherland and her student athletic trainers.

Hazel joined the school in 2012 as the head football coach. He held that position until 2017 when current coach John Ausman took over. Hazel said his experience at the helm of the football program was vital to his success as AD.  

“You gotta keep a great working relationship with people, you gotta build trust and you gotta keep trust,” he said. “That’s what I’ve always tried to work the hardest at. It’s building trust with people and keeping trust with people. I think I did a good job with that, I hope I did a good job with that.”

Hazel thanked Lee along with former boys’ basketball coach Ed Kelly and current baseball coach Ken Nakagawa for being by his side during his tenure as the athletic director.

“They were all supportive of me, they were always there to help me through everything and I really wanna thank all them for all their hard work and their support,” Hazel said. 

Lee said that he’s going to miss Hazel’s level of expertise in high school athletics, as well as understanding the logistics of running an athletic department with on/off-campus coaches.

That’s not including the work he does with helping the director of enrollment with all of the school’s international and transfer students, Lee said.

Hazel will continue to coach football and serve as assistant athletic director during the transition period. 

Lee said they have had great interest in the position from within the school and from the outside. 

“It’s nice to be at the safest school on the Central Coast, get a new stadium being built right now, and be able to take over an athletics program that is moving in the right direction,” Lee said. “When the right person is ready to take over the great work Adam did, we will hire that man or woman immediately.”

Juan Reyes
A Watsonville native who has a passion for local sports and loves his community. A Watsonville High, Cabrillo College, San Jose State University and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumnus, he primarily covers high school athletics, Cabrillo College athletics, various youth sports in the Pajaro Valley and the Santa Cruz Warriors. Juan is also a video game enthusiast, part-time chef (at home), explorer and a sports junkie. Coaches and athletic directors are encouraged to report scores HERE.

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