Will Jones is in his second year as the athletic director at Grove Public Schools. He also recently finished his first season as head coach of the GHS boysí basketball teams. A graduate of Skiatook High School and a 1998 graduate of Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Jones has also been a head coach at Enid and Pawhuska, as well as an assistant coach at Bartlesville High School.
1. How did you end up at Grand Lake? My dad used to be the superintendent at Ketchum. My parents moved to this area after I graduated from high school [at Skiatook]. That was my first introduction to the area and I fell in love with it. I always thought that I wanted to end up here someday and I thought it would be when I retired. But when the athletic director position opened it was the direction I wanted my career to go and it was also where I wanted to live.
2. What are your thoughts on Grand Lake and where do you see the area in five to ten years? I think, even though weíre in a tough time financially, there are some exciting things on the horizon with the ability to have a large bond issue down the road. It will give our athletic facilities a chance to catch up. Weíre a little behind, both school-wise and athletically, in our facilities. In 2015 we have a chance to really upgrade our facilities. Athletically, thereís a lot to be excited about. I think if youíre a leader in this school system itís an exciting time.
3. What are your daily responsibilities? There are many. The scheduling of games. Our coaches handle a lot of that but I have to make sure the referees are there, the gate workers are there, security, that the money is there and taken care of, concessions. Iím also responsible for evaluating coaches and in cases where we have an opening Iím responsible for sifting through applications and hiring new coaches. There are so many things that you donít plan for. There are eligibility issues, making sure we comply with the OSSAA. Making sure new students are eligible. Thereís also public relations. I have people walk in here all the time, whether itís parents or salesmen or whoever. Itís just endless the types of people who are interested in this program.
4. What was your first job? Mowing lawns in Skiatook. My dad found me some yards and he made me go out and find some more. I guess he felt it was time for me to get a job. I was in seventh grade.
5. Who are your mentors and what did you learn from them? It starts with my high school coach Jim Deaton. Another one would be [former N.S.U. menís head basketball coach] Ken Hayes, who coached when I was a student there. Conley Phipps, who was an assistant there and is now an assistant at O.R.U. Tim Bart, who I coached under at Bartlesville. Bill Mayberry, my athletic director at Enid. All of those guys I worked under and respected. They all did things the right way. They made a huge impact on me because they tried to make me better. They were constant learners, lifelong learners and their goal was to help young people get better.
6. Why did you get into coaching? Iím a third generation coach. My granddad was a coach at Muskogee under Paul Young. My dad was a coach. My mom and dad are both retired superintendents. Because I grew up in that environment, Iíve always looked up to coaches. I think it was inevitable.
7. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Impatience is a definite flaw that I have. I want things to happen quicker. I want [artificial] turf on the football field. I want our facilities to get better. Those are things that are going to take some time.
8. In your position what do you consider the greatest opportunities? The greatest challenges? Right now our biggest challenge is our financial situation. Weíre getting by. Our coaching staff is shrinking because we donít have the ability to hire coaches back. Weíre having to do the same amount of work with a fewer number of hands. Our greatest opportunity is the growth, the opportunity to improve our facilities and help our student athletes and improve their experience here at Grove Schools.
9. Tell us something about yourself that most people donít know? My biggest hobby is smoking meat. I try to do it every weekend. I started five years ago. I love the all-day process. Sometimes I donít even eat it, I just give it away. I just enjoy the process. Iím going to begin doing it competitively. My first competition is actually this weekend.
10. If you could choose another career, what would it be? Itís hard to imagine anything else. I was an insurance agent for one year but I was a fish out of water. Maybe something to do with sports like sports marketing. I just enjoy the competition of sports and being around that.
If you were stranded on an island on the lake with three people, who would you want to be stuck with and why? In some ways Iíd want it to be my family, but I think Iíd rather have them be safe at home. So probably some of my buddies that I could fish with and make a good time of it on the lake.