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Patrick Guillen: Stepping up to the Plate for

 

 

Photo by Gary Kuwahara

Patrick Guillen: Stepping up to the Plate for
Athletics Top Job

I had an uncle who liked to say, ‘Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.’... I decided, ‘What the heck, I’m going to do that, too.’
- Patrick Guillen, athletic director
 

Athletics Director Patrick Guillen, who has been in acting at California State University, Dominguez Hills since Nov. 1, 2005, has earned the permanent position. The announcement was made Jan. 11 by Boice Bowman, vice president of Student Affairs. Guillen began his new position immediately. He replaces Ron Prettyman, who left CSUDH in August 2005 to take a position as the athletic director at Indiana State University.

“I look forward with great anticipation to working closely with Patrick to take Toros Athletics to expanded levels of success while continuing to provide a great academic experience for our student-athletes,” said Bowman.  “The relationships Patrick has built over the years, as well as his knowledge of the Athletics Department, will allow him to keep CSUDH Athletics moving forward with continued success.”

As the acting athletics director, Guillen already had secured several new corporate partners. They include the Carson Doubletree Hotel and an update of CSUDH’s corporate sponsorship with Enterprise Rent-A-Car. He has also overseen the appointment of a new faculty athletics representative, raised funds for new baseball and softball bleachers, helped secure a new title sponsorship from Anschutz Entertainment Group—better known simply as AEG and owner of the Home Depot and Staples centers—for the 2006 Toros Scholarship Golf Classic, sold venue advertising, centralized and updated concessions, and formulated future fundraising ideas. Those efforts could substantially increase CSUDH Athletics funding in 2006 and beyond.

Guillen has been an integral part of an athletics department that has captured an NCAA Division II men's soccer national championship, hosted the NCAA Division II Final Four women's soccer championship, and first- and second-round NCAA Division II men's soccer championships.  In addition, Guillen initiated the negotiation process that brought the Home Depot Center to the Carson campus three years ago

Guillen began his tenure in the Toros Athletics Department in 1995 after serving two years as the media relations director at Vanguard University (formerly Southern California College) in Costa Mesa. As the assistant athletics director in charge of media relations, Guillen had been responsible for fundraising, working with the media, and community and public relations, as well as overseeing all home-event management operations.

Carson and the South Bay are more than passingly familiar to Guillen. He was born in Torrance, played Little League and Babe Ruth baseball at Torrance- and Carson-area parks, and graduated from Carson High School, where he played baseball. He earned his degree from Vanguard in 1987, in Business Administration, with an emphasis in Management and Marketing.  

In his official acceptance statement, Guillen says, “I am thrilled to be appointed as the new director of athletics, and couldn’t ask for a better situation than working for a university that is a vital component to the community in which I was born and raised,” Guillen said.  “I am honored by the confidence that Dr. Boice Bowman, President James Lyons, Dr. Al Rodriguez [associate vice president of student affairs], and the entire search committee has shown me by elevating me to this post. I look forward to continuing to work with a very talented group of individuals in the athletics department, as well as the entire campus community, to take Toros Athletics to a new level of success.  But most of all, I am excited about rolling up my sleeves and working tirelessly on behalf of our students here at CSUDH.”

Later, the new athletics director mused on how he arrived at that post: “I was in a very successful and lucrative career in the health-care industry [Comprehensive Rehabilitation Associates, Inc.]. But I wasn’t happy, wasn’t being fulfilled. I had an uncle who liked to say, ‘Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.’ My cousin listened to him and is now a highly successful executive with a fishing equipment company, Shimano, and he travels around the world. He loves it. I decided, ‘What the heck, I’m going to do that, too.’

“I went and I literally just walked up and knocked on the door of Bob Wagner, at that time head of the sales and marketing team for the then-California Angels. He’s now a senior VP with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and for Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim. He looked up and said, ‘How can I help you?’ and I said, ‘I want your job. How do I get it?’ And he started laughing.

“He said, ‘You know, 25 years ago I did exactly the same thing. I was a successful business man at Fluor Corporation in Irvine, and I was tired of what I was doing, and I wanted to work for the Angels. I went and saw my predecessor, and I said the exact same thing: ‘“I want your job, how do I get it?”’

Guillen said he wasn’t sure he wanted to do what Wagner told him, which involved starting work with the minor league teams and working his way up. He asked if there was an alternative. “He asked me where I went to school, and I told him Vanguard University. He asked me if I knew the athletic director there, and I said, ‘Yeah, Ron Prettyman, he was athletic director when I was a student there.’ So Wagner said, ‘Why don’t you go see him and tell him you want to volunteer?’  So I did.

“I called Ron and told him I wanted to volunteer my time in the office, and Ron said, ‘It’s funny that you should call today, because I’m firing my media relations director tomorrow. Why don’t you send me your resume?’ I did, and the rest is history.”

Guillen has big shoes to fill at Dominguez Hills. Prettyman was named the 2003-2004 Athletics Director of the Year by the Division II West Region National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics. He began his tenure as Dominguez Hills’ director in April, 1995, coming from the same position at Vanguard. During his administration at Dominguez Hills, Prettyman expanded the department from eight to 11 sponsored sports, and oversaw and coordinated the acquisition of the Hughes Education and Athletic Center.

Guillen says his first order of business as the new director is to formulate a department strategic plan. All the department’s strengths will be assessed and a plan put together. He said he already has boosters ready to help. He also wants to connect more with the community. Some quick examples, he said, include “adopting an elementary school. Also, I need to go to more chamber of commerce and other meetings. I want to double our fundraising. I hope I can get someone on board to help with that.”

Guillen said that his part in initiating talks that led to the Home Depot Center being built on the campus is one of the highlights of his career at Dominguez Hills—but it has competition as his best memory.

Over the years, Guillen recalls, “I’ve had several great student athletes here, great people, including one of our all-time best basketball players, Jair Fray. I remember he came up to me on the night of his final basketball game. He came to my office afterward, still in uniform, about 10 o’clock, and gave me a hug and thanked me for all the things I’d done for him. That means more to me inside that coming up with the proposal for the Home Depot Center.

“I also remember two years ago a professor came up and showed me a term paper he’d gotten,” Guillen says.  “The assignment was for the students to write a paper about their best manager ever. This student had written it about me. The professor gave it to me. I’ll always keep that. That student was thinking about quitting school to work at a job in real estate. I told her that could be the biggest mistake she could make if the real estate market falls through. She stayed and has thanked me many times since. I love working with the students, helping to guide them. Because we have more first-time college students here at Dominguez Hills, there probably are a few more who could use a guiding hand. I love helping like that.”

Then the new director says, with emphasis, “We’re supposed to be in this business for the students.”

Guillen added one more memory…or perhaps it should be called a growing memory: “Also, there is our department’s and the athletes’ annual Christmas toy drive. We go to the pediatric cancer ward with all the gifts, and to see the smiles on the faces of those kids, y’know, that’s … it’s … well, I still remember the faces of the kids from five years ago, and all the kids since.”

–Russell Hudson

 

 
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Last updated Monday, January 23, 2:01 p.m., by Joanie Harmon