Jones found a good fit in Drumheller 34 years ago and spent his teaching career in the valley. In over three decades, he has made an impact on students and the community in his service and commitment to the school and the teams he has coached.
“When people come up and tell me how influential I have been in their life, it's powerful,” said Jones. “Often you don’t hear it. That is the most rewarding of all.”
Jones graduated from the University of Calgary with his teaching degree and set out in the world to find his first job in the field. He was attracted to Drumheller because it offered a position where he would only teach physical education, and there was the prospect of starting a football program at Drumheller Composite High School.
Jones started in 1975, and while the football program didn’t immediately pan out, he carved a legacy with the volleyball program. In all, his teams won 11 zone titles, and won silver at at least six appearances. His teams also won a number of provincial finals, most recently the senior girls Dynos provincial banner in 2006. He also found zone and provincial success coaching boys basketball. Being involved in sports was vitalizing.
“It kept me feeling young. I love all kinds of sports,” he said, adding whether the students he was coaching were strong athletes or not, the most important element was if they were having fun, developing skills and progressing.
He has had athletes go on to play at the post secondary level at the University of Calgary, NAIT, SAIT, the University of Alberta, Lethbridge College, Douglas College in B.C. and St. Francis Xavier in Nova Scotia.
Jones made Drumheller his home, married a valley girl (Cathy Bolin), and raised his two sons in Drumheller, both excellent athletes. Trevor is completing his Bachelor of Science at the University of Alberta, and Darren has completed his Kinesiology degree, and is looking to pursue education.
Along with scholastic sports, he has been involved with the Drumheller Volleyball Club, and has sent teams to major tournaments all over the province. Whether it is in scholastic volleyball or club volleyball, he says his players always enjoyed beating Calgary teams.
“It didn’t matter how big the schools were” he said
In 1989, he was part of a movement to found the Drumheller Soccer Association. Since then the association has gone from playing in a house league on the green space along the railway tracks by St. Anthony’s School, to fielding travel teams that have made appearances at the provincial tournaments.
To mark his retirement he attended a dinner for the school division in Carseland, and last weekend there was a local dinner to honour Jones and his career. He said there were athletes, some already in their 50s, dating back to his teams in 1975, in attendance.
He is looking forward to his retirement, but freely admits it may be a cumbersome transition.
“It’s hard to walk away,” he says adding he sees some great talent coming up in the girls volleyball program, and is excited about the strides the basketball program has made. While he looks forward to attending games as a spectator, he certainly doesn’t rule out returning to the bench to coach, or help out teams.
His says he will pursue his passions of golfing and fishing, but knows come fall, it may be tough to watch school and teams ramping up for the upcoming season.