Good coaches lead by example

Published 10:04 pm Thursday, July 31, 2014

Many wives merely have to worry about their husband watching too much football. But Sandy Jones has had to accept that football is her husband’s entire life.

As the coach of the varsity football team at King’s Fork High School, Joe Jones spends plenty of his time thinking about football. When he’s not at the practice field or coaching a game, he’s likely watching film, dreaming up plays, organizing the team’s schedule, reliving the wins and trying to forget the losses.

But an essential duty of any high school sports coach is less tangible than their clipboards and less visible than their time-out huddles. Especially with a team as large as a football team, it likely requires more effort than the physical duties of the coaching position. It often goes unnoticed by the vast majority of those surrounding the team, but it’s vital to the growth and development of their players.

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That duty is to be a mentor, an inspiration and a role model for those on their team. The best coaches model not only good athletic technique but also good character traits; they inspire the members of their team not only to play well but also to live their lives well.

That’s why Joe Jones’ decision to involve his entire football team in a surprise vow renewal for his wife on Wednesday, their 25th anniversary, was such a stroke of brilliance.

He’s been the coach there for seven years, and has coached high school football for 19 years. The couple met at a high school football game and had their first date at a Hampden-Sydney College football game. Their son Bryce, a senior, is on the team at King’s Fork. So not only is football a big part of their lives, it also holds a special kind of symbolism for their relationship, if you’re the kind of person who’s into looking for symbols in everything.

This particular vow renewal transcended its primary purpose of demonstrating his commitment to his wife. It also modeled the importance of marital commitment not only to their son, but also to dozens of other young men — at least some of whom, chances are (based on the American Psychological Association’s reported 40- to 50-percent divorce rate in the United States), don’t have a model of that in their own homes.

So, congratulations and many more anniversaries to Joe and Sandy Jones, and thanks to them for their examples to the young people in their lives.