Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - May 18, 2012

McIntosh calls it a career at Castilleja

Veteran athletic director moves on to Stanford to begin new challenge after building Gators' program into respectability

by Keith Peters

Jez McIntosh stuffed a few belongings into a backpack, picked up a box full of clutter he had accumulated during his lengthy tenure as Castilleja's athletic director and walked out of his office for the final time on Monday.

Before departing, he wandered into the school's gymnasium, with its walls covered in championship banners. He picked up a stray basketball and took a shot.

"I had to leave on a make," he said. "I took one look around at the banners and walked out."

And so ended a remarkable 14-year stay for McIntosh at Castilleja, where he helped build a moribund athletic program into a respected one, gave the school good reason to spend $14 million on a new gym and become the founder of the West Bay Athletic League.

That made leaving all the more difficult for McIntosh.

"It was tough," McIntosh said of his final day. "It was hard to leave the girls; hard to say goodbye."

McIntosh spent much of the day in meetings, handing off duties and making sure everything was in place for his successor. Much of his office had been moved over the weekend, which left him with his backpack and box to carry out to his car.

"It's been my home for 14 years," he said. "Sometimes, spending seven days a week on campus trying to build the program."

And building his basketball team into a contender.

"I'll miss coaching," he said."I finally had a team where everybody was playing year round. I was coaching their club team. That's the toughest part, giving up the coaching and the girls, being a part of someone's life while trying to make a difference. That's what it's all about."

McIntosh last week accepted a job as the Facilities, Event and Operations Manager at Stanford University. He will oversee the soccer, softball and track and field stadiums.

"I've accomplished everything I could accomplish here," he said. "Fourteen years is a long time."

When former Castilleja water polo coach Ted Minnis became the men's and women's water polo coach at Harvard University, McIntosh got to thinking what might be out there for him.

"I am very happy for Jez," said Minnis. "We used to talk about how one day we both would be working at the college level, and we have accomplished that. Not bad for a small athletic department in Palo Alto. I know it must be tough on the girls at Castilleja because it is a big loss for the school, but I am sure he was ready for a new chapter in his life.

"I think that Jez did so much for the athletics there. He gave tremendous support to the coaches allowing us to run our programs at a very high level, and that all he wanted was for us to coach the kids and he would take care of the rest. He oversaw the upgrade of the facilities. He had a vision for the program and goals he wanted to attain, and he achieved them. When I got there in '99, the facilities were pretty bad and now there is a great fitness center/gym and pool. The teams really soared under him. There are so many athletes who are playing in college because of the Castilleja program, and he was the leader of the program. Stanford saw what Jez brings to the table and he will do a great job there. I could not be any happier for him."

McIntosh spent time at Stanford a few years ago when he took a six-month sabbatical, working in the Stanford Athletic Department with the women's basketball program and facilities.

At Stanford, McIntosh will be in charge of making sure everything is in order for the facilities he oversees — before the first pitch is tossed, the first ball is booted or the first race is run and until it's time to turn out the lights. Plus, he'll be working football games like most everyone else in the Athletic Department.

For sure, it will be a different job with new challenges and problems.

McIntosh, however, still will be involved with Castilleja as the commissioner of the WBAL. The league's Board of Managers met Tuesday and voted to keep McIntosh in office for the coming year.

"I love high school sports," he said. "And I helped create the league. I'd like to stay involved as long as I can."

McIntosh accomplished quite a bit in his 14 years at Castilleja, which has 70 of its student body participating in athletics.

Since McIntosh arrived in 1998, the school has won 40 league championships and had 28 league MVPs. During that time, the Gators have won 13 Central Coast Section championships and 14 CCS scholastic championships. They've won a state title in volleyball, captured three NorCal crowns in volleyball, had an athlete (Tori Anthony) set a national record in the pole vault and another (softball pitcher Sammy Albanese) featured in Sports Illustrated, and been academic state champs in soccer (2005-06) and water polo (2009).

And, Castilleja athletes have gone off to 31 different colleges and universities — from Stanford, Cal and UCLA to Duke, Harvard and Princeton.

McIntosh is most proud about "raising the bar of athletics on par with the excellence of academics" at Castilleja, where an athlete can excel on the athletic field and in the classroom and take that off to college.

McIntosh plans on keeping tabs on how his former athletes are doing but already is dreading Nov. 1, which will be the first day of Castilleja basketball practice.

"That's going to be a tough day," he promised.

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