Jahadhmy completes 35 years of service with the Royals as a Hall of Fame soccer coach and effective administrator
Abe Jahadhmy reached a fork in the road as a teenager nearly a half-century ago.
He chose to veer from the ruts of delinquency and turn into a field of athletics.
Jahadhmy reached his final destination on Friday when he worked his last day as athletic director at Santa Barbara’s San Marcos High School.
“I got into a little bit of trouble when I was a junior in high school and was like, ‘I’d better stay off the streets for a while,’” he told Noozhawk.
“That’s when I discovered the Goleta Boys Club. I hung out there to get my act together.”
Subsequent acts were played out as a soccer star at Dos Pueblos High, a youth coach and mentor at the Goleta Boys Club, a Hall of Fame soccer coach at San Marcos, and finally as the guiding hand that rebuilt the infrastructure of the Royals’ athletic program.
“I felt that it was time,” Jahadhmy said of his retirement after 35 years at the school at 4750 Hollister Ave. “I don’t know how I’m going to feel on Monday, but right now I feel really good about it.
“I feel that the school is in a good place and that it’s the right time for me to go. I enjoyed my time, and I appreciated it, but it’s time for somebody else.”
That somebody else is Aaron Solis, a long-time teacher, coach and activities director at San Marcos. Jahadhmy leaves knowing that the Royals are in good hands.
“He’s a high-character person who really cares a lot about the kids, and he doesn’t mind working really hard,” he said of Solis. “He’s very bright, too.
“I think those are the ingredients for the program continuing to do well.”
A Royal Renovation
Jahadhmy made a point of remodeling San Marcos’ athletic complex during his 19 years as A.D.
The refurbishments included a new turf field and track at Warkentin Family Stadium; the construction of the Richard and Sallie Ridgway Sand Volleyball Courts; and the remodeling of Maury Halleck Gymnasium, Joe Mueller Baseball Field, the softball diamond and the campus pool.
“We fund-raised for a lot of it ourselves,” Jahadhmy said. “So many parents stepped up and were very unselfish … Rich Ridgway and his wife, Sallie, were the ones who really took the bull by the horns.”
The Ridgways had their three children contribute as athletes: Jenna (Class of 2006), Kalley (2009) and Paxton (2013).
“Rich is a really kind-hearted, helpful guy who’s done a lot for UCSB, too,” Jahadhmy said of the former Gaucho basketball and volleyball star. “It didn’t matter if it was the locker room project, the sand courts, the football field, the baseball field and some of the softball project, the gym, the front end of our school … Whatever it was, he was there for us.
“I’m lucky to have been surrounded by so many good people.”
He said he had good mentor in former San Marcos AD John Stoney, and helpful colleagues at the area’s other high schools.
“Dan Feldhaus is an excellent AD,” he said of Dos Pueblos’ athletic administrator. “Todd Heil (Santa Barbara) is an incredibly good AD. And the former ADs I worked with like Dan Choi, Joe Chenoweth and Nan Verkaik were very good, too, and we all got along.
“We were rivals but we cared about each other’s kids. You look at a Santa Barbara kid, or somebody at DP, and go, ‘That could be my kid right there.’ They look at our kids the same way.
“We really looked out for each other, too, and that was really cool.”
Getting His Kicks in Soccer
That camaraderie was also his experience as a teenager at the then-Goleta Boys Club, which is now part of the United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County.
“There were all kinds of really good kids there … Greg Henderson, Dan Pagliotti, all those kids,” Jahadhmy said. “We hung out there and got it together. And I fixed myself.”
He emerged as one of the top high school midfielders of the area. He won most valuable player honors for the 1975 Dos Pueblos soccer team and was voted to the All-Channel League first team.
Chargers’ coach Joby Nunez also enlisted Jahadhmy to help with the youth soccer program he started at the Goleta Boys Club.
“Joby asked if some of us seniors would take a team at the Boys Club, and I just loved it from Day One,” he said. “I thought, ‘This is for me!’”
Jahadhmy played the following season at Santa Barbara City College with the intention of transferring to UC Santa Barbara.
He returned to DP to coach the Chargers’ junior varsity, however, after the Vaqueros temporarily dropped their soccer program. The Goleta Boys Club offered him a full-time job the following year.
“That was probably the best experience of my life,” he said of the decade he worked at the club, at 5701 Hollister Ave. in Old Town Goleta.
“I learned so much and got to meet such great people. Supportive people. It really prepared me to become an athletic director.”
Jahadhmy credited Sal Rodriguez, Anne Vierra, Daniel Gomez and Carl Braden as instrumental in his development.
“We were just so close,” he said. “We didn’t mind working hard and we cared for each other. We cared for the kids and the place there.”
Hall of Fame Soccer Coach
Jahadhmy eventually went back to school at UCSB. The late Maury Halleck, San Marcos’ former athletic director, hired him after he earned a degree in sociology and an athletic coaching certificate.
He took over as the Royals’ head soccer coach in 1989 and spent 14 years in the position, guiding San Marcos to the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 championship in 1998 when it defeated Sunny Hills 1-0 in the final.
Jahadhmy was named as the division’s coach of the year that season. He also won CIF-Southern Section, CIF-State and Far West United State Coach of the Year honors in 2002.
“I was fortunate,” he said. “I got a lot of accolades, but it’s really the kids. We all know that. I had some great athletes.”
He is most proud that Paul McLean, who played on his first championship team at San Marcos, is now the team’s head coach. The Royals, 11-1-2 overall and ranked No. 14 in the CIF’s combined 1/2 divisions, currently lead the Channel League with a 10-0 record.
“He really has the soccer program looking good,” Jahadhmy said. “They’ve won two straight league titles, but more important is the character that Paul is building.”
Lion King of Royals’ Pride
Jahadhmy succeeded Bob Archer as San Marcos’ athletic director in 2004. One of the biggest Boys Club lessons that he employed was “to surround myself with good people all the time.”
“You may not be the sharpest tool, but if you have good people around you who are unselfish, and bright, you’re going to be successful,” Jahadhmy said. “They’re going to make you look good.
“At the Boys Club, I was around good people. At San Marcos, all my assistants were really good. When I became AD, I had good parent support, good coaches.”
Jahadhmy was especially gratified by the way the San Marcos community rallied around him despite an economic downturn that began in 2007.
“There were a lot of parents who came to me when we were really down,” he said. “They came to me and said, ‘Hey, how can we help? What can we do for you? How can we do things for this school?’
“I was really touched when they were all there. ‘We know we’re struggling, but we’ll do whatever it takes.’
“We had a lot of meetings and were able to bring back our program. I really appreciate every one of them for being so unselfish. That really touches me.”
Navigating Difficult Times
Jahadhmy admits that the job has become more challenging during the last two decades, with more sports to administer and regulations to follow.
“There are a lot more requirements in getting a coach certified,” he said. “And the biggest hardship now is getting buses. It’s so darned expensive, and we can’t get the yellow bus.
“We’re losing a lot of that whole camaraderie ingredient of going on a bus, and coming back in a bus, and having to rely more on vans and parent drivers and things like that.”
The difficulties of the job grew exponentially when the COVID-19 pandemic reached Santa Barbara County in March 2020.
“We were testing a lot, and then we had the year (spring of 2021) when we pretty much had to play all the sports at the same time,” Jahadhmy said. “There was a lot of uncertainty about whether or not we were even going to play.
“That was two years of a lot of stress.”
He appreciated the irony when one of his final meetings last week was to reschedule the basketball game against Santa Barbara that had been canceled by recent storms.
“I think Ralph (Molina, the Royals’ coach) has done a really good job of building our football program, I really do,” he said.
“But if you look at Bishop’s success, they have a youth program that feeds to them. Santa Barbara has become really successful, and they’ve got a youth program that feeds them, too.”
He linked the gridiron struggles of both San Marcos and Dos Pueblos to the lack of feeder programs for the schools.
“I told Ralph that I’d be interested in helping him start something like that,” he said.
Jahadhmy sensed how he’d come full circle when he attended a memorial service a few weeks ago at the Goleta Boys & Girls Club.
“Just seeing all the people coming back who’d given so much to the club all those years meant a lot to me,” he said. “They cared so much.”
It once made all the difference for a teen who’d reached a fork in the road.