It didn't take much of a search to find Palo Alto High's new athletic director. The final choice was on campus all along. In fact, he was at the school's track on Wednesday doing what he normally does.
Jason Fung, 40, who has been coaching the Paly track and field team since 1999, was officially named the school's new AD on Wednesday afternoon.
The announcement was made on the Paly Voice's Facebook page by Assistant Principal Victoria Kim. Fung officially will assume his new duties at the beginning of the new school year. He replaces 20-year veteran AD Earl Hansen, who announced his retirement following the 2013 football season.
Fung was one of three finalists, a group that was pared to two before the final decision was made.
"All these years of watching Earl do his thing, I wondered 'can I do it?' Fung said Wednesday while coaching the sprinters on the Paly track team. "I think this was a natural step in a career."
Fung grew up in the area, attended El Carmelo and JLS, graduated from Paly in 1992 and began his teaching career as the traveling physical education teacher for the school district's elementary schools.
He later was a teacher's aide at Paly's alternative education school. He has coached the Paly frosh-soph football team in addition to leading the Vikings' track and field squad to numerous league championships plus the school's first Central Coast Section team title in the sport in 2012.
"I've been a part of this community for 30-plus years," Fung said. "There's a lot of support here. If I didn't have that, it would have been a little harder decision."
Fung has been on the Paly campus seemingly all his young life and looks forward to bringing a new energy to an athletics program that has seen great success over the years. He also will have the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of the school's new $20 million athletics facility, which will get under way in June after the demolition of the current structures.
"The next 18 months of this project will be hard on the athletics department," Fung said.
Hansen will stay on eight hours a week until the project is completed. He already has taken on all the new scheduling for next season, which will find all the Paly volleyball and basketball teams competing on the road, along with the wrestling team. Much of the scheduling already is complete. Finding gym time at other facilities in the area is already under way.
"It's exciting to be able to start something new," Fung said of the new gyms being built. "I'm looking forward to being a staple here. I take a lot of pride with how the school does. I want to see this be very, very successful.
"Having this opportunity is something like giving back to the community. We (Fung and his family) never left because it's a great community."
"He knows the community and knows the system," said Hansen. "He's very strong with all the behind-the-scenes stuff. He'll be here 20 years."
Fung already is thinking about how to dedicate the new athletics facility.
"We just had a celebration to honor the old gym and now we need to find a way to celebrate the new gym," Fung said. "I'm already thinking Jeremy Lin."