Richard Stroud

Grove Sun

GROVE- The Grove School Board looked internally to fill two coaching positions earlier this month.

Athletic director Will Jones was named head coach of the boys’ high school basketball team while longtime assistant Jeremy Collins was named head coach of the fast-pitch softball squad.

Jones, who has a career record of 97-48 from head coaching stints at Pawhuska and Enid, said the district’s budgetary concerns played a large role in his move to the bench.

“We looked at a lot of résumés and I interviewed several candidates,” Jones said. “But with the financial situation being what it is, it was the best thing for all concerned.”

Jones added that he was not an original candidate for the position. However, his resumé stacks up against anyone’s. Jones was a student assistant at Northeastern State University from 1994 to 1997. After two years as an assistant at Enid, Jones had his first head coaching stint with Pawhuska, which lasted for three years. After two years as an assistant at Bartlesville, Jones returned to Enid where he was head coach of the Plainsmen for another three years.

Jones replaced the retired Jimmy Johnson as Grove Public Schools athletic director last spring, but he’s looking forward to a return to coaching.

“You never get coaching out of your blood,” Jones said. “I’m very excited. We’ve got summer practices already started and we’re looking forward to the next season.”

Jones is replacing Doug Winters, who led the Ridgerunners to a 5-15 record last season.

For new softball coach Jeremy Collins, the chance at a head-coaching job at the high school level has been a long time coming.

“We’re really lucky to have had him as long as we have as an assistant coach,” Jones said. “He’s a really terrific coach and a great mentor.”

Collins has been with Grove since 2004, working in a number of assistant coaching positions as well as coaching a number of sports at the junior high level. Collins began his career as an assistant on the boys basketball team before spending last season as an assistant to Richard Bassett with the girls team. He was also an assistant with the softball team from 2004-2007.

“This is a good opportunity for me,” Collins said. “There’s a lot of potential here. I’ve known a lot of these girls for a long time and I know that we can get this program back to the level it used to be where we’re going to state tournaments.”

The Lady Red last advanced to the state tournament in 2006, when they lost 1-0 to Mannford in the title game. GHS won the state title in 1996 and 2000.

Collins is replacing Charli Duff, who led the Lady Red to a 13-16 record last season. Collins and the Lady Red are already at work to better that mark in 2010.

“We have to get on the same page this summer. We have to get better at the fundamentals.”