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Trendsetter. Mentor. Leader.
All those qualities can be used to describe Loyola High basketball coach Jamal Adams, who is ready for a new challenge, agreeing to end his coaching career to become the principal at Pasadena La Salle High. The school made the announcement Monday.
Adams was one of the first Black basketball coaches at a private school when he was hired 16 years ago at Loyola, and he has been a vocal advocate for helping others be represented. Now he will take on the task of being the top administrator at another private school after serving in a variety of roles at Loyola.
“It was an opportunity to be principal,” he said. “It’s a community that I’ve fallen in love with, and it’s a chance to push myself and grow. I want to continue to represent leadership that is atypical. Being an African American school leader is something I take seriously. I’m excited about joining them and using everything I learned.”
A graduate of Loyola, Adams was director of faculty and director of equity and inclusion at his alma mater. He also taught classes in economics and African American study. He graduated from Columbia and has a master's degree from Loyola Marymount. He once was a stock broker before entering education.
"La Salle is getting someone with integrity, values and passion for education," Loyola volleyball coach Michael Boehle said. "He's going to be irreplaceable."
Adams, 48, is taking a leap of faith because at Loyola he probably had a job for life. He believes the job at La Salle will involve building strong relationships so when difficult moments happen, they will be the foundation to move forward.
He hopes his hiring as a principal can be “an inspiration” for those who have similar dreams to make a difference in the Black community. At Loyola, he’s been a student, parent, teacher, coach and administrator, preparing him for the challenges ahead.
“I’ve been in a really unique place to see the ins and outs of the school,” he said.
Adams will continue to serve as Loyola’s basketball coach through the end of this season before taking over as principal at La Salle.
“It’s a vibrant community and wants to grow,” he said of La Salle.
Since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, Adams has served on the executive board of the Black Coaches association along with Jason Hart (USC), Pooh Jeter (pro player), Travis DeCuire (Montana), Damon Stoudamire (Pacific), Tina Thompson (Virginia), Reggie Morris Jr. (Fairfax), Lou Richie (Bishop O'Dowd) and Noelle Quinn (Torrance Bishop Montgomery).
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.