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How important is the administration when it comes to the success of a high school athletic program? C.K., Walnut Creek   Yes, that C.K....

How important is the administration when it comes to the success of a high school athletic program?

C.K., Walnut Creek


Yes, that C.K. would be me, and when I saw Campolindo splashed on the cover of the last issue of SportStars, it made me want to make sure that everyone knew just what a huge role recently retired Campo principal Carol Kitchens played in all that success.

First, though, I want to emphasize just how important administrative support is to any athletic program. If the principal feels athletics are an important part of a school, then year in and year out, the athletic program will be strong. If the principal, though, thinks that only football and baseball are important — as was true at one school I worked at long ago — then over time, only those two programs are likely to thrive.

Sure, a team might be good in one year because of a bunch of talent, or a coach might manage to string together a couple good seasons, but in the long run, athletic success is directly related to administrative support.

And so when a school the size of Campolindo (around 1,300), with an enrollment that’s primarily white and Asian, is dominant in so many sports, there’s no doubt that the administration is a big part of that success. (And just to make it clear, Carol Kitchens wasn’t just about athletics — Campo has always been a very strong academic school as well, and other extracurricular activities, such as the choir, are outstanding too.)

I had known Carol before I returned to Campolindo in 2006, and I knew she would help me, as best she could, be successful. But I didn’t realize how much she knew about the athletic programs until I sat next to her at a volleyball game for a while. A play happened on the court, and she said “Lizzie always does that” — and my head snapped around. If my principal knew how individual volleyball players performed over time, I had better make sure my teams were well-prepared and ready to go, because Carol Kitchens was clearly paying close attention.

At the same time, Kitchens was more than ably supported by athletic director Bob Wilson, who is the best athletic director I’ve ever worked for in a public school (I only make that distinction because I don’t want to upset my present, private school, athletic director). Wilson is calm, cool, collected, experienced and on top of everything — and he knows Kitchens has his back, so he can do his job without looking over his shoulder.

And you know, Campolindo’s success isn’t exactly a one-year wonder. There was one year in which the girls’ volleyball team won the state title, the cross country team won the state title and at least three other teams played for North Coast Section titles — and that was just the girls. Yes, we had talent, but we also had a situation that couldn’t be better for coaches, and that was thanks to Carol Kitchens and Bob Wilson.

As I mentioned, Carol retired this summer, and she will be missed — and not only by athletes and those who work for her, but by all the students at Campolindo and the community that supports the school.  

Clay Kallam is an assistant athletic director and girls varsity basketball coach at Bentley High in Lafayette. To submit a question for Behind the Clipboard, email Coach Kallam at

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