CUSD profiles: new CHS athletic director Harold Sanin

New Claremont High School athletic director Harold Sanin. Courier photo/Andrew Alonzo

by Andrew Alonzo |

Fifty-five-year-old Claremont resident Harold Sanin has a lot on his plate as Claremont High School’s new athletic director.

In addition to scheduling matches and referees for games, staying on top of eligibility forms and student athletes, Sanin’s job also entails mentoring new coaches and being a facilitator between school staff, administrators, and parents, as well as teaching physical education.

He hopes to reinvigorate connections between the high school and the city at large.

“I’m here and I want to be able to make this place as good as possible,” said Sanin, who has lived in Claremont since 2001. “What can I do for the Little League? We used to have a Junior All-American [Football] program here, why isn’t it here anymore? My son played in that program.”

New Claremont High School athletic director Harold Sanin. Courier photo/Andrew Alonzo

Sanin’s wife of more than 30 years, Colleen, is a Claremont Unified School District substitute teacher. They have four children, daughter Bailey, and sons Harrison, Donovan, and Garrett. Outside the office, Sanin is usually out and about with his wife enjoying the local music scene.

Sanin is stepping in for the recently retired Mike Collins, who had been in the A.D. role since 2017 following the departure of Rick Dutton. Collins had been a CHS staple since 1995, when he was hired as the head football coach before hanging up the clipboard in 2014.

Although a tough act to follow, Sanin is hoping to pick up where Collins left off.

“I hope I can live up to everything Mike did,” Sanin said of the mentor he still consults.

Prior to CHS, Sanin served as A.D. at Gabrielino High School in San Gabriel. In his new yet familiar role, Sanin said he aims to “enrich young students’ athletic experience.”

“I would hope that every athlete that comes out of here gets the same type of experience, where they are building friends for life and can go back and deal with things with their friends and have them as a support system,” he said.

He developed his sense of camaraderie over years of playing sports, through being coached by key mentors, and from family and friends.

“There were a lot of good people in my life,” Sanin said. “My parents were immigrants from Columbia and worked in the garment district in L.A., so a lot of the people who were doing all the extracurricular activities in the area were just volunteers.”

He was a multisport athlete in Rosemead, playing football with the Rosemead Rebels Athletic Club, Pony League baseball, and pickup basketball. “Enjoying sports with my friends has always been a constant throughout my life, even now as an adult,” Sanin said.

Though he grew up surrounded by sports, Sanin’s path to athletic administration was unconventional.

He graduated from San Gabriel High School in 1986, Rio Hondo College in 1989, then earned a bachelor’s degree in business with an emphasis in finance, real estate and law from Cal Poly Pomona in 1991.

“I used to do work in procurement at [Jet Propulsion Laboratory],” he said. “That was kind of a neat little detour that I took while I was in school.”

A year later, a math teaching position opened up at Mark Keppel High School in Alhambra. Longtime mentor Rudy Chavez, the school’s principal at the time, encouraged him to apply.

“I went in, applied and got the job,” he said.

He moved to Covina’s Charter Oak High School in 1994, where he remained until 1998, when he started a 25-year teaching career at Gabrielino High. He earned a master’s degree in education with National University in the early 2000s.

Sanin was on Gabrielino’s football staff for 25 years, head coach for 12. He served as athletic director for 14 of those years and said what made the job special were the roots he established within the community.

“I grew up there and it was part of my community and I knew it well. I really felt that I was giving back to the community where I grew up in,” he said. “At the same time, I felt like I was separated from the Claremont community,” where he’s lived since 2001. “I just felt that I wanted to do the same thing for this community and come back and work here.

“That’s a big part of my mission, to give back to the community — this is just my new community. I want to help. I want to be able to give back.”


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