Los Gatos athletic director Ken Perrotti recognized by his peers

LOS GATOS — In 1999, Ken Perrotti graduated from Los Gatos High School.

Seven years after that, he started teaching special education at the school and served as the wrestling coach. In 2007, he also became the co-athletic director with Jim Marino.

After a stint away from Los Gatos starting in 2010, Perrotti was hired in 2017 to be the school’s athletic director. The athletic program has thrived under his direction.

Recently, Perrotti was named by the Central Coast Section Athletic Directors Association as the 2024 Athletic Director of the Year. Perrotti will be recognized at the California State Athletic Directors Association conference on April 10-14 in San Diego.

“It’s a big honor to be recognized by my peers for what I do,” the 43-year-old said. “The biggest thing that allows me to do this job … is that last year, this school site made my position full-time.”

Mark Krail, the Wildcats’ longtime head football coach, wrote in a text to the Los Gatos Weekly Times, “I’ve been in high school athletics for over 35 years, and I have never seen a better Athletic Director than Ken Perrotti. I had the job for many years and it was not easy then, it’s much more demanding now. I tell anyone who will listen that Ken Perrotti is the hardest working man in the town of Los Gatos, and possibly the Bay Area! He is great for coaches, student athletes, and our community! There is no one more deserving than Ken Perrotti.”

Perrotti said the responsibilities of an athletic director include administrative day-to-day duties such as securing officials, buses, transportation in general, uniforms and equipment.

But there’s much more.

“There’s hiring and retaining great coaches,” said Perrotti, who is a Certified Athletic Administrator. “I’ll take my coaching staff against any other coaching staff, public or private, in the entire CCS.”

Supervision is a big part of the job, and he tries to be at as many events as possible. Los Gatos High has a code of conduct for extracurricular activities, while meetings about athletes’ conduct are also part of Perrotti’s responsibilities.

But Perrotti has also found himself doing jobs such as rototilling the sand pits before the CCS Top 8 track and field invitational at Los Gatos.

“You’ve got to be a tech specialist, you’ve got to know crowd control stuff, you’ve got to know plumbing, you’ve got to know electrical,” Perrotti said. “There’s a lot you’ve got to be able to do.

“It’s literally, whatever needs to be done, you’ve got to be willing to do it. That’s probably just my nature. But … I’m not going to wait around for someone else to do it. If I can do the job, and I can do it quickly, I’m just going to get it done because that’s what it takes to make sure these kids have an amazing experience.”

He added: “And it’s not about winning. The winning is a byproduct of everything else that our coaches do to make it an amazing experience.”

It’s very rare to find a Los Gatos varsity sports athletic program near the bottom of the league standings. Perrotti mentioned a few reasons for this.

“No. 1, we do a very good job at retaining our coaches,” he said. “Coaches come here to coach for the same reason that families move here, because they know it’s a high-performing community, they know they are going to be supported and they know that people care and that they value what they’re doing. And so we get to attract really, really great coaches.

“We have families that are extremely supportive,” Perrotti added. “We have families who are willing to give their money to support our programs, because it does take money to have good programs. Look no further than our football program that has 20 coaches on three levels, and they have to fundraise to pay 15 of those coaches. So, finances are a big part of it.

“But the parents are also invested. They volunteer, they help, they’re involved. Team moms and team dads, it takes an army to put on an event, so we have so many parents that are willing to give their time, and they’re just as busy as everyone else in the Bay Area. But they find the time to be there.

“Then we also have a great group of athletic kids. … We have kids that want to compete, they have a drive and desire to excel and to win.”

An example of parental help was the varsity football team’s trip to Pasadena for the California Interscholastic Federation Division 2-A state championship game last December. Perrotti explained that the CIF provided most of the hotel accommodations (Perrotti hustled the day after the Wildcats’ NorCal championship win to grab enough rooms for the rest of the 75-member team and 12 coaches, and also arranged transportation). But food for the players was another matter.

Perrotti talked about how the parents fed the football players and coaches on the trip, including using a flattop gas grill outside for breakfast.

“They made breakfast, they ordered either catering or brought lunch in, brought dinner in,” he said. “The parents banded together and they fed an army of boys and coaches for the duration of the trip. It was a huge undertaking.”

Perrotti said there is a really strong sense of community in Los Gatos.

“The high school here has kind of always been like the heart and soul of town, and they take great pride in everything that happens at this school, both academically and extracurricular wise. … This community cares deeply about their athletic programs,” he said. “People care deeply about the rich tradition that we have here, they take a tremendous amount of pride in what our young men and women are doing here.

“And then on the other side of it, you have a school, you have an administration, you have a staff, all of our teachers, who also share those same values,” Perrotti said. “So many teachers here care so much about what our kids do that they’re invested in their lives, not just in the classroom.”

Perrotti started two programs at Los Gatos High — Ignite2Unite and Character Development & Leadership.

“Ignite2Unite is about creating an environment when it feels like they are a part of something, and when you feel like you’re a part of something, you feel like you’re part of a community,” Perrotti said.

He also began a student leadership council at Los Gatos with representatives from sports in addition to music, cheer and dance.

Perrotti pointed out the importance of the California State Athletic Directors Association and the CCSADA to him.

“I learned more being a member of those organizations than I ever did just doing a job and figuring it out the hard way,” he said. “I think those professional organizations are the reason why I’ve been able to grow as an athletic director.”

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