St. Anthony lost one alumni athletic director earlier this summer, but as the Saints prepare to start the Fall sports season, they gained another. Last week the school hired alum Chris Morrison as its new athletic director, replacing outgoing AD Brian Walsh, who took the job at La Salle.
Morrison is a Saints alum class of 1991 and was a league championship-winning boys’ basketball coach at the school 2009-2012.
“This means so much to me,” said Morrison. “This is the place that gave me a chance as a student, as a teacher and a coach, and now as an athletic director.”
Morrison comes from St. Pius X/St. Matthias, where he built a fledgling athletic department into a legitimate small school contender in several sports. Among the rare accomplishments for St. Pius under Morrison was the creation of a new football team at the school, bucking a statewide trend of declining enrollment.
The competition was fierce for the position, and finalists included current Saints basketball coach Allen Caveness, who has built the Saints into a Division 1 program.
For Morrison, the job is an exciting one for several reasons. For one, he taught three classes at St. Pius as well as other administrative duties outside of being an AD. St. Anthony will give him a chance to be a full-time athletic director.
“I get to spend all my time taking care of these programs and making sure we bring them to an even better place, to build the programs to a lower so that every year we have good teams moving forward,” said Morrison.
Morrison also said he believes he’ll be the first African-American athletic director at his alma mater, and that he was honored to make history. On a logistical level, the job has him excited because he’s been a lifelong resident of Long Beach and actually lives a short jog from campus. When volleyball coach Alicia Lemau’u needed someone to open the gym for her players last week, he just popped over and did it.
“It’s great having an alumni and it’s great having someone who’s right there nearby whenever we need something,” she said.
Morrison said that he’s already met the coaches and many of the school’s athletes. Volleyball senior Isabella Bareford, who’s headed to LMU next year on scholarship, stopped by his office to introduce herself.
“They’re such good kids here, and I know I can help these athletes because I’ve been here,” said Morrison. “I know I can mentor athletes that are about to go do it at the next level and to help them get ready for it.”
Morrison will have big shoes to fill, as Walsh’s 16 years were the most successful in school history. St. Anthony won eight CIF-SS titles in that time, more than half of the 14 in school history. There were nine individual CIF-SS champions, compared with only six in the school’s previous 84 years.
Morrison said he’s excited to try and keep the upward trajectory going.
“When I got the call I was so happy,” he said. “To come home and be the AD at a school I graduated from is a rare opportunity. I’m just excited to take what’s been going on and build on it and try to keep things going.”