Gordon Era comes to a close – coach retires after nearly four decades

+Girls+soccer+head+coach+Jeff+Gordon+%28center%29+holds+the+CIF-SS+Division+2+championship+plaque+in+celebration+with+his+team+on+Feb.+3%2C+2019%2C+at+Warren+High+School+in+Downey+after+defeating+Mira+Costa+High+School%2C+2-1.+Gordon+cultivated+over+600+career+wins%2C+three+CIF+championship+titles+and+19+Freeway+League+titles.+

Image used with permission from Jeff Gordon

Girls soccer head coach Jeff Gordon (center) holds the CIF-SS Division 2 championship plaque in celebration with his team on Feb. 3, 2019, at Warren High School in Downey after defeating Mira Costa High School, 2-1. Gordon cultivated over 600 career wins, three CIF championship titles and 19 Freeway League titles.

Grace Johnson

For the past 40 years, the Sunny Hills girls soccer team only had two coaches — Kenn Gordon, who started both the girls and boys soccer program in the 1981-1982 season — and his son Jeff Gordon. 

During this Gordon era, the team won 19 Freeway League and 3 CIF-Southern Section titles in 2005, 2007 and 2019.

But after coaching for 36 years, 32 of which were at Sunny Hills, the younger Gordon, who took over from his father, announced his retirement from coaching on April 21 via an Instagram post

“As a head coach, it takes a lot of time and everything if you want to have a successful program, and you have to be all in,” the social science teacher said.

Jeff Gordon first started coaching girls soccer in 1986 at his alma mater, Brea Olinda High School, where he remained for four years before moving to Sunny Hills to coach alongside his dad. 

After this season, Jeff Gordon said he decided it was time to step down from coaching here and start spending time with his wife and two children.

“This [decision] is all about my kids, as they are approaching high school,” he said. “I definitely want to go watch them play all of their games, but I can’t be here [coaching] and be going to all their games at the same time.”

Though retirement had been in the back of his mind for years, Jeff Gordon decided to close his high school coaching chapter when he started working with his daughter’s soccer and his son’s baseball teams. 

“It was just such great quality time,” he said. “Being a dad on the sidelines watching them, made me realize this is something that I want to do and need to do for my children in the next five to six years before they move on to college.”

When Jeff Gordon informed athletic director Paul Jones of his retirement three weeks prior to the announcement on April 21, Jones was surprised.

“Initially anytime a coach tells me they are going to retire it is a shock and selfish disappointment because it sucks for us, but you’re happy for that coach,” he said. “But I understand coach Gordon’s position because his kids are in seventh and eighth grade, and he wants to be present.”

Jones added that Jeff Gordon will forever leave a mark at Sunny Hills.

“He is Sunny Hills girls soccer,” Jones said. “He is a legacy, and he has left a legacy of competing at high levels and being in battles with Troy High School, winning league and CIF championships.”

Along with being a successful coach, Jeff Gordon has influenced players’ lives.

“I had tears [when I found out] because I know how much this program means to him, and he will always still be our coach in our hearts because tradition never graduates,” forward junior Cheyenne Dohan said. “He has dedicated his life to this program, and we will forever carry on the legacy for him and his dad.”

Dohan says the team will have to adapt to a new head coach next year, but she has no doubt the girls will come together to perform as a group.

“We have to keep the same mindset and adjust to the new coach no matter who it is so we can carry on the tradition,” she said.

Though Jeff Gordon will continue to coach his kids, he said he will miss the high school players he met along the way and hopes they’ve learned something from his program.

“I think soccer is the most important classroom that you’ll ever have,” he said. “You learn those life lessons about keeping commitments, being an excellent teammate, and overcoming adversity, especially when striving for championships.”