The writing was on the wall, er, door…
At East Nicolaus High, Jeff Lorenson had a sign on his office portal — a block D with “Blue Devils” written below.
Now Lorenson, 33, is about to take the reins of the Davis High athletic department, named last week as the school’s sixth athletic director over the last decade.
It wasn’t all kismet — that Blue Devil sign paid homage to the Duke basketball program — but for Lorenson it was close enough.
“It was meant to be,” a laughing Lorenson told The Enterprise. “I know what Davis is. I’ve been around the community a little bit. … I know its reputation. The decision to move on had nothing to do with not liking where I was, it had everything to do with feeling like this was a position in which I was supposed to be.”
Lorenson grew up in Minnesota, a graduate of Bimidji State University. He comes to town from a 2 1/2-year stint at East Nicolaus where he was AD and coached basketball, track and helped with football training.
Before that, he was at Esparto High (2005-12) where he served as athletic director and a physical education instructor.
Lorenson, who was a basketball standout while in college, moved west with his wife Christi to be near her family in Manteca. Lorenson, who remains a personal trainer for several clients, first worked for 24-Hour Fitness upon his arrival in California. He quickly turned to teaching, initially in Fairfield before settling into the Esparto post.
“I wasn’t looking for a job,” Lorenson admits in talking about what brought him to DHS. “But I always had this mind-set of getting better and improving … and I wanted to be at an elite school, a premier school. Davis is that.”
Urged on by ENHS Vice Principal John Drury, Lorenson got some advice from his colleague: “He said ‘Davis High is looking for an athletic director and you’re going to apply today.’ I said, ‘Really?’ ”
Lorenson was one of 23 applicants, according to DJUSD Associate Superintendent Matt Best. He was confirmed Thursday by trustees, replacing Dennis Foster, who says he resigned after four years to pursue coaching.
The Lorensons, who live in Natomas, have two children — Kalynn, 4, and Jaxson, 18 months — and Jeff says Christi was “very happy” once he was chosen for the DHS post:
“She understands my drive for success, and I won’t accept anything other than being the best … or being the most successful.
“I’m not talking about winning and losing games. I’m talking about being the standard (that everyone) looks to and says ‘I want to be them.’ ”
Lorenson, acknowledging the more than 120 Sac-Joaquin Section banners earned by Blue Devil teams over the years, says he wants to make sure the legacy continues.
“We lead by example. … As a leader for the athletic programs, holding myself to the utmost standards is a key,” adds Lorenson, cautioning that once he gets used to his new surroundings “maybe there’s changes that need to happen,” but the main thing he wants to project is “a feeling of stability.”
Lorenson says he’s aware of the “roller-coaster” of recent coach-confirmation struggles between administration and the Board of Education. He says regular reviews and commons sense will go a long way to avoid future missteps.
“My door is always open,” the closet hockey fan continues. “I don’t want to be that guy that sits in the office and puts out a schedule and shows up at a game and that’s it.
“I want to be part of every, single program on campus as much as I can, and time allows.
“I’ll be out at practices and out at games … not to micromanage anybody, but because I want to be part of their greatness and support them if they need something.”
Going from a school with 330 students to one with almost 1,000 athletes, Lorenson says he’s up for the challenge and promises that excellence in academics will not be forgotten …
“Sometimes in high school all you think about is, ‘All I want to do is play,’ ” he says, adding that he appreciates the emphasis this district puts on the classroom.
“I wasn’t the academic stud in high school … and credit my college coach Jeff Guiot for preparing me for (life) after college.”
Lorenson evolved into a member of the Northern Sun Conference All-Academic Team.
Lorenson officially comes aboard July 1, but he’s been champing at the bit since last week.
“I’ve been bugging (DHS Principal Will) Brown: ‘What can I do, I want to start. I want to get acclimated; I want to get going.’ He’s been more than helpful, but I understand, too, the school year’s still in. With the utmost respect for Mr. Foster, I will wait until that time comes.”
Notes: While Lorenson professes to be more of a college than pro sports fan, he does think having Minnesota Timberwolves Kevin Love in a Sacramento Kings uniform “would be terrific.” The NHL Minnesota Wild remains a favorite hockey team. … Lorenson has a master’s degree in coaching and athletic administration from Concordia University (Irvine). … Among his best traits? “I wear my heart on my sleeve. People know who I am, and I am honest with them.” … Davis High has 23 varsity teams; according to MaxPreps, East Nicolaus High has 10.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at [email protected] or 530-320-4456.