Malibu High has new athletic director

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The School on Wheels staff with guests at a hike/barbeque on Saturday for Aussies in L.A. and friends to support Malibu's School on Wheels efforts to help homeless children in Los Angeles. Photos by Matt Polish

Adolfo Silva doesn’t have to be a teacher. The dot-com veteran could have chosen some more lucrative venture after his Orange County Internet company was bought out just before the great tech wreck of 2000.

But Silva looked back to his senior year at UCLA-the semester back in 1996 that he had volunteered as an assistant football coach at Malibu High School.

“I knew that what I wanted to do was be a teacher,” Silva said.

Silva has taught at Malibu for four years, and this summer was appointed to replace Jeff Gardella as athletic director for Malibu’s junior and senior high schools.

Gardella resigned this summer to become dean and athletic director at Oaks Christian High School, a traditional rival to Malibu and upcoming major player in the private high school athletics world.

And Silva has some major challenges ahead: a new football coach who replaces a popular veteran; a state mandate to add a lacrosse team to a school district that doesn’t have it in the budget, and the day-in and day-out hassles of scheduling, budgeting and administering.

“The lacrosse issue is a major headache,” Silva said. The California Interscholastic Federation has mandated that all high schools in the state choose between fielding official lacrosse teams or disassociating the schools from on-campus lacrosse clubs, which would divorce Malibu lacrosse players from the school, its colors and the popular Shark mascot.

“That would be terrible for our kids,” Silva said.

Although Malibu has an enthusiastic parent base anxious to make the current lacrosse club an official intramural sport, Silva does not know if other nearby schools have the desire or wherewithal to follow Malibu lacrosse into the league.

Malibu principal Mark Kelly said Silva was tabbed “because the continuity of the program is most important for our kids. He’s just the right person for the job.”

As for his approach on the field, Silva said both students and parents need gentle prodding toward acceptance that coaches may use tough love and harsh words on the field, when children and parents may not use such emotions at home.

“A coach raising his voice at a player is one of the ways we maintain order on the field-a culture that we create within our sports teams that may not be appropriate for the home culture,” he said. “We need to work with our parents on that.”

In terms of immediate attention, Silva said he needs to work with new football coach Roy Humphrey, who arrived in the Shark tank after a stint as assistant coach at Santa Monica High. Humphrey replaces Rich Lawson, who started the Malibu football program 10 seasons ago and has left coaching to spend time with his family.

Silva remembers helping on that 1996 inaugural Sharks football team, which went 0-9. The JV and freshman teams were also 0-9 that year, the frosh team scored the only six points out of the whole dismal season.

Last year, the varsity Sharks were 10-2 and were eliminated from the playoffs in a second-round playoff heartbreaker. “I’m just so proud of what coach Lawson did with that program, and coach Humphrey and I have our work cut out for us.”

Silva will teach two hours of advanced placement European history, and will continue to advise the junior high school student government, in addition to the athletic director duties.

“We have to remember that Malibu High is two schools, and the junior high kids need attention too,” he said.

“But most importantly, when we went 0-9 that [first] year, we learned that being a sports team is just not enough.” he explained. “Our kids need people other than their parents who will listen to them, to talk with them from an adult perspective.

“That’s what this is all about.”