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Cub Chronicles

Alumni News from Loyola High School of Los Angeles

Alumni News

Jamal Adams ’90 Career Retrospective: A Look Back at Coach Adams’ Time at Loyola

Student. Graduate. Dad. Coach. Mentor. Teacher. Director. Administrator. Leader.

On April 13, Loyola announced that Jamal Adams ’90­­—a long-time teacher, Director of Equity and Inclusion, head basketball coach and Director of Faculty—had accepted the role of principal at La Salle College Preparatory school in Pasadena.

The 17-year veteran faculty member will soon depart from our campus, but before he does, we took a look back at his career, impact and accomplishments:


Adams entered Loyola as a freshman in the fall of 1986. As a standout student-athlete on the hardwood, many of his days as a teenager were spent at 1901 Venice Boulevard. During his senior season in the winter of 1990, he earned All-State and All-League honors, leading Loyola to the CIF Finals under head coach Bill Thomason. Adams completed his high school career as a two-time Del Rey League MVP, a two-time team captain and was twice named to the LA Times All-City teams.

Says Bill Thomason, “He was a mainstay in the basketball program for all four years and was captain of arguably one of the greatest teams that Loyola has ever had during his senior year. But he was so much more than just basketball and it showed. Becoming salutatorian, that was special because he was selected by his peers. That class overwhelmingly picked Jamal to speak for them at their graduation.”


Courted by numerous Division I basketball programs, Adams decided to take his talents to the Ivy League, where he suited up for Columbia University. A three-year starter, he would go on to earn All-Ivy League honors before graduating in 1994 with a degree in economics. He also co-founded and served as President of the Columbia Student-Athlete Committee, which performed community service activities in New York City.

Post-graduation, Adams worked on Wall Street as a stock broker for Merrill Lynch for 11 years, making his way up to vice president. But, through some serious discernment of his own, Adams decided that it was time to start a new life journey.


In 2005, the head coaching position at Loyola was open. Adams, who was back in Los Angeles working for Merrill and an assistant coach for Loyola, decided to apply.

“Our hope for any Loyola head coach was that they would also teach on campus daily,” said then Principal Thomason. “But if we were to offer any position to Jamal, it wouldn’t be close to his current salary.”

When Adams was offered the job, he came to see Thomason. “Coach, what if I also wanted to teach here?” “I don’t want you to do that,” Thomason replied. “You’d have to take a pay cut, you know that, right?”

“I know,” said Adams. “But if I’m really going to jump in and do this, I have to do it the right way, the way it was done when I was here. I have to get to know these kids, I have to be around them and I have to be there for them…”

Adams became a full-time coach and social science instructor at Loyola, teaching economics. He later developed the African-American Studies course, and in 2016, Adams took the post as Loyola’s Director of the Office of Equity & Inclusion.

“Here’s an alum who was successful in the business world and had a strong desire to come back to share in the mission of what we’re trying to do at Loyola,” said current Principal Frank Kozakowski, who was the school’s Assistant Principal at the time. “People want to be part of something special like Loyola and there’s joy in that. We’ve been blessed to have Jamal with us for so long in all of his capacities.”

On the court, Adams’ coaching résumé—one that spans 20+ seasons as both a head and assistant coach includes: CIF-SS Div. IIA Coach of the Year, 3x CIF Div. IA Champion and 11 Mission League titles. He became one of the first Black basketball coaches at a private school when he took over in 2005 and has delivered consistent results at Leavey Gymnasium.

In 2010, Adams was honored with the Cahalan Award—the highest honor bestowed by Loyola to its alumni. He also served on the Alumni Executive Council and was elected to Loyola’s Faculty Senate as well as the Student Discipline Board. Adams also became a Director of Faculty.

After nearly four decades of service to his alma mater, one thing is certain: Jamal Adams will forever be part of the Loyola High School community. “I hope that those I did touch in this community will always remember that I gave it my best every day,” Adams said. “I keep telling everyone that this is not ‘goodbye,’ just ‘see you later.’”

So yes, while his job title may be changing on July 1st, there is one part of his identity that will always remain: Cub for Life.

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