By Rick Assad
With classroom responsibilities and attending so many sporting events, is it possible there is more than one Patrick McMenamin on the Burbank High campus?
For the record, there is only one, but the mathematics teacher and co-athletic director is seemingly everywhere.
“I’ve been able to share the job with co-athletic director and partner Bruce Breeden. With a school enrollment of over 2,500 and 19 sports, it’s been a pleasure sharing the heavy loads with him,” he said. “Now that he’s returning to coaching [girls’ varsity basketball], I’m looking forward to working with my new partner, Alli McKain.”
McMenamin, who graduated from Bishop Alemany where he played football, soccer and volleyball and was selected CIF Southern Section male student-athlete, said he has the full backing of the front office.
“I work under an administration that supports spending quality time with family and having a healthy balance with work,” he noted. “And I live in the city where I work, so a short commute definitely helps, especially on the really long days.”
Additionally, McMenamin has been assisted by his immediate family and this makes it all the better.
“I’ve learned that it takes a village. My wife, Jillian, and both sets of our parents have been instrumental in helping with our two daughters, Alexandra and Ashley,” he said.
A forward-thinker, McMenamin has seen his share of one-sided Pacific League contests, which isn’t good for either side.
McMenamin made a splash when he drafted and introduced a Competitive Equity Proposal this year which is designed to limit those types of mismatches.
“The Pacific League is large, consisting of eight schools. Most leagues are smaller than ours. So with that, comes a challenge of sustaining parity and competitive equity,” he said. “Our league schools endure lopsided scores in all sports, and I felt that it was time to pilot something new.”
McMenamin, who earned a bachelor’s degree from Cal State University Northridge and a master’s degree and teaching credential from the University of Phoenix, added: “The proposal will minimize blowout scores and increase closer scores, which I believe are best for kids and coaches,” he said. “Yet the proposal also comes with new challenges. We’ll see how it goes after next year.”
The new plan would affect those sports in which the schools face each other twice like tennis, soccer, softball, baseball, volleyball and basketball.
McMenamin explained his proposal. “Teams will be placed into one of two tiers. This will take place after the first half of league play has concluded,” he said. “Tiers will be based on the first round of league results. Then schools will play only those within their tier two more times. The goal is to have more closer scores and sustain some competitive equity.”
When it comes to which schools will make the playoffs, the three teams in the higher tier would qualify for automatic berths.
The fourth-place team in the top tier would also make the postseason unless it lost to the top team in the lower tier during the first round.
The top team in the lower tier can also qualify for the playoffs if it defeats the fourth-place team in the top tier and it can also be selected as a wild-card.
Getting both teaching and athletic director duties accomplished isn’t easy, but somehow they get done.
“We encounter so many moving parts. Sometimes it gets tough making it all work out,” McMenamin said. “Plus, we’re in the business of competition, and when teams get competitive, it’s not always nice and fluffy. We aim to keep sportsmanship and integrity at the forefront as a life-long lesson.”
Being a math instructor, McMenamin is usually calm, cool and collected, which eases his mind and workload.
“I’m a huge fan of organization. So I enjoy taking in all of our moving parts and putting it together in a way that works for my school, our coaches, and our kids,” he said. “I also get to work with coaches who are great people that care for our kids. It can be very rewarding to support them.”
Being ready and flexible despite the daunting challenges can knock down any roadblocks, according to McMenamin.
“I believe that organization is the key to success. So I try to be as organized as possible,” he said. “My goal is to give our coaches what they need to be successful, and then get out of their way.”
Having the coronavirus around since March 2020 has presented unique problems.
“COVID-19 brought unprecedented challenges. It was discouraging to see our athletic facilities quiet and empty for so many months,” McMenamin said. “There was so much interaction not happening and it was an unpleasant reminder to appreciate when we can do the things that we enjoy.”
This 2020-2021 athletic season was slotted into one-third of the time instead of nine months.
“Then as COVID cases dropped, we really went from zero to sixty. The CIF adjusted our sports calendars to accommodate our athletes,” he said. “But that also meant squeezing in our typical three seasons of 19 sports into a window of roughly three months. It took a lot of organization, teamwork, and cooperation, but we made it through.”
There are some new-age assets that McMenamin depends on to make his jobs smoother.
“I’m going into my seventh year. Technology has certainly changed the job for the better,” he said. “Software like Home-Campus and Arbiter Pay along with improvements to websites for the CIF and Burbank High, have enhanced the necessary communication and organization that come with managing athletics. Plus, sharing best practices has really become common in the AD [athletic director] community. We’ve learned to lean on each other for support, ideas and cooperation for the greater good of all.”
McMenamin has been a sponge when it comes to receiving advice on how to do his job more efficiently.
“My predecessor, Fred Cook, instilled in me that even though the job can get very busy with schedules, officials, transportation, and competition, it’s important to have healthy relationships with those we work with,” he said. “Athletics is a people-oriented business and we’re very lucky to see the results of our work, sometimes instantly.”
With a love for numbers, sports and young athletes, McMenamin has been able to combine these seamlessly.
“Over the years, I developed a passion for math, a passion for sports, and a passion for kids,” he said. “I choose a career where those three come together on a regular basis. So most days when my alarm goes off in the morning, I look forward to coming to work. But if I wasn’t a math teacher and athletic director, I’d probably get into finance or accounting.”
There is an enormous amount of satisfaction being a teacher and a sports administrator.
“This may sound cliche, but I absolutely love seeing our coaches and athletes represent Burbank High with pride and excellence,” McMenamin said. “Watching our kids compete to the best of their abilities and to perform at high levels while wearing the royal blue and white is what it’s all about. And to know that I play a small role in our busy little athletic world brings joy to my life.”
And so it goes for McMenamin, whether he’s in the classroom or at an athletic venue, he’s ever-present.