Jessica Gatica said that growing up in sports, she always wanted to be an athletic director.
Estancia High has given her that chance, announcing Thursday that Gatica is the new girls' athletic director.
Gatica, who has been the Eagles girls' soccer coach for the last two years and will stay on in that role, takes over for Jeff Perry, who is sliding to an activities director role at the school.
"Growing up in sports my whole life and going to Mater Dei, the athletic director was someone who was always around and helping," said Gatica, 27. "I was really excited to apply at Estancia and the fact that I got it, I'm completely thrilled."
Gatica plans to continue substitute teaching in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District, which she has been doing the past two years. However, she now has her teaching credential and she said she's hopeful that a full-time teaching position will open up at Estancia soon.
The girls' athletic director position became available as last school year was ending, and Gatica immediately put in her application. She said was hired earlier this month a few days after her interview. It became official Wednesday.
Tim Parsel is staying on as the Estancia boys' athletic director. He said he got to know Gatica a couple years ago, when they coached track together, and he's happy that she got the job.
"She's very supportive of all the sports and we've talked quite a bit," Parsel said. "It's good to have a female [in the position] and she has a lot of coaching experience. She's got enthusiasm, she's got fresh new ideas. I was very happy she was interested."
Gatica, who also coaches club soccer for the Irvine-based Pateadores, has led the Estancia girls to a 22-16-9 record in her first two seasons as coach. Each year she led the Eagles to the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division III playoffs. This past year they were bounced by top-seeded Santiago of Corona.
In 2009, Gatica helped the Eagles earn a share of its first league title in a number of years.
Gatica grew up in Costa Mesa and played soccer at Mater Dei High before graduating in 2001. She was also an assistant coach for the Mater Dei varsity girls' soccer team from 2002-08, including a role on the Monarchs team that won the 2007 CIF Southern Section Division I title.
"I want to build on the positives we have going on [at Estancia]," Gatica said. "I'm not saying we have negatives. I just came from such a place of discipline and hard work, and I want to instill that among all student-athletes at Estancia. Playing high school sports is a privilege, not a right, and that's what I want the kids to understand."