Former Trinity League athletic director takes over at Sunny Hills


Photo used with permission from Paul Jones

New athletic director Paul Jones (right) stands next to members of the Orange Lutheran freshman football team after a game. Jones held the athletic director position at Orange Lutheran for six years before moving to Sunny Hills.

Kristima Aryal, Web Editor-in-Chief

Every Thursday during sixth period,  junior softball outfielder Lindsay Bridges shuffles into athletic director Paul Jones’ Zoom meeting. 

“Mr. Jones seems like such an experienced and understanding guy and I am looking forward to getting to know him better,” said Bridges, who attends his meetings once a week. “He seems very relaxed yet, he also has a very competitive spirit and until we get a coach, he is a great mentor.” 

Working hand in hand with the athletes, the athletic director aspires to keep athletes productive and active despite their nonoptimal situation. 

“During the meetings I update the students on the coaching search, I also provide them with different workouts they can partake in to help them improve their speed, agility and strength,” Jones said. “I also gave them a nutrition plan and chart so they can improve their nutrition, which will aid them in reaching their athletic and fitness goals.”

He’s got quite the sports resume, too.

A letterman in three high school sports: baseball, basketball and football. 

A roster spot on his college football team.

An athletic director at Orange Lutheran High School, one of seven schools in the talent-rich Trinity League.

Six years later, Paul Jones oversees Sunny Hills’ 25 sports programs, replacing Jon Caffrey, who accepted an assistant principal position at Fullerton Union High School. 

Born in Orange County, Jones graduated from Orange Lutheran High School in 2002, where he spent his four years playing as the point guard basketball, cornerback football and utility baseball player and along with participating in the band. 

After graduating high school, he enrolled at California State University, Fullerton [CSUF], where  he graduated class of 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in radio, television, and film, while simultaneously taking classes at Fullerton College [FC] to play as the wide receiver on the football team. 

My freshman year at CSUF I tried out for the basketball team and did not make it [but], my brother told me that I could be a student at CSUF and play football at FC if I was a full time student.” Jones said. “It was one of the best decisions of my life–I learned how much I could handle and what I was capable of.”

Jones began working at Warner Brothers record label at Burbank shortly after graduating. From 2006-2008 he worked at various entertainment companies from the KTLA sports department producing the evening news to FOX sports working as the production assistant, creating commercials for major leagues, such as the major league baseball and national football league. 

“I started mentoring a couple of kids at Torrance High School and I felt that I would make more of an impact on student’s lives if I was somewhere on campus,” Jones said. “It was much more exciting for me.”

Jones went back to school at Concordia University, Irvine, and received his masters’ degree in coaching and athletic administration in 2009 along with his teaching credential in physical education in 2011. 

“From my experience in the entertainment industry, I have more confidence when public speaking in front of large crowds, it has helped me be a more effective communicator.” Jones said. “And as an athletic director and a coach,  it helps me have an idea of what people want to see and what would look good on television.” 

I felt that I would make more of an impact on student’s lives if I was somewhere on campus. It was much more exciting for me.””

— Paul Jones

After graduating with his master’s degree, he began working at Hephatha Lutheran School in Anaheim, as a physical education teacher and the coach for boys football, basketball, track and volleyball at the K-8 school. Jones eventually returned to his alma mater in 2014, Orange Lutheran High School and worked as the athletic director for over six years.

“One of my high school friends told me about the opportunity and I decided to apply, loe and behold, I got the position,” he said. 

His educational journey would bring him to apply to Sunny Hills next, where he replaced Caffrey as Sunny Hills’ newest athletic director as well as teach first and third period of physical education. 

“Mr. Jones is a really collaborative teacher and always encourages us to work together in groups and share our thoughts and ideas,” said freshman Erik Kniss, who has first period with Jones. “He is really chill and has a very kind demeanor.”

Principal Allen Whitten commends Jones personality and attitude going into the school year. 

“It’s a hard time to transition to a new role but he’s doing it as well as he can and it’s fun to hear about his upcoming plans,” Whitten said. “Mr. Jones stood out from the candidates because we really liked his overall philosophy of athletics and he definitely embodies the Sunny Hills way of doing the right thing, the right way.”

[Jones] definitely embodies the Sunny Hills way of doing the right thing, the right way.”

— Allen Whitten

Now that he’s at Sunny Hills, Jones is looking forward to bring the same level of competition that he witnessed while working in the Trinity League.

“As a person, I aspire to lead with character and integrity and I’m looking forward to working with all the coaches and students and continuing the standard of success that is put in place,” he said. “I’m looking when our student-athletes will have the opportunity to safely compete against other schools in CIF competition so we can get the ball rolling.”

This story originally appeared in the Dec. 14 print issue, which can be read here.