PARADISE, Calif. - Jerry Cleek is the new athletic director (AD) at Paradise High School.
Anne Stearns previously served as the school's AD.
Cleek isn't new to Paradise. He worked there for 42 years as a teacher. He also served as the school's AD from 2005-2010. Cleek retired after that.
However, the Orland native couldn't stay away, He returned to coach boys basketball a few years later, doing so through the 2019 season.
Cleek remembers playing Paradise while he attended Orland High School. He said even then he knew how special the community was.
"We always loved the Paradise kids for some reason," he said.
"I had a lot of job opportunities. Paradise was the one I wanted and the one I took. Now I have something in my heart for what they've been through, which is one of the worst things I've ever seen," he continued.
Cleek loves sports and can not wait to connect with players, coaches, and fans. He plans to create a curriculum to help kids grow, on and off the field.
"Everyone I've talked to is so excited to get back to normal," Cleek said. "Also, to do some things to help kids continue with the character they have, or build it."
"That's the most exciting thing -- is putting together a plan with the coaches. They'll do it and I'll be their cheerleader," he added.
It will not be long before Cleek gets to watch practice and attend games in Paradise again.
The first day of practice for Paradise football is Monday August 2.