One of the last things Scott Jones wanted was to draw attention to himself, even upon his retirement from Camden County High School after more than two decades as a coach, teacher and athletic director.
“You see what’s he making me do,” Jones said to Camden boys basketball coach Mark Harnly, who assumed the AD role at the school, when talking about me interviewing him and taking photos.
“You need to do it,” Harnly replied. “You deserve it.”
Jones would prefer digging ditches, but by looking at the number of reads online, Facebook and Twitter comments and likes to Sunday’s story, Harnly was right.
I thought I’d throw in some added comments from Jones and others interviewed that didn’t make it in the retirement piece below. Feel free to share your favorite moments or sayings from the Camden native.
On his cold exterior as a first impression:
“I ain’t going to light up a room when I come into it by any stretch of the imagination. Once you get to know me and see how I am, yes, I have a great time with coaches and people in general.”
His constant maintenance of the football/baseball field:
“I was blessed when got here, agriculture teacher Terry Forehand kept the field maintained. It was his baby, and when I became football coach part of the responsibilities were to help with the field. It was immaculate and I felt very fortunate that it was like that. It’s an unwritten thing that you don’t practice on this field. It’s become mine and it’s a labor of love. I love cutting the grass and making it look right and getting it right for Friday nights. To me Friday nights are not just for the football team. It’s for the band and whole community. I want it to be a showplace for when people come here and say, ‘Man that is a great looking field. I would love to play on that field.’”
On his wife’s support:
“She’s raised our daughter, and I’ve taken a lot of problems home, and she’s listened to all of them. She’s the main cog in me being able to do this stuff out here. She’s never said anything about the time I spend out here, because she knows it has to be done and only a certain amount of people that can do it or are going to do it. She’s the best.”
Why retire now?
“It has a lot to do with my family. Having the chance to see my granddaughters grow up now and spend time with my wife, that’s played a huge part of it.”
Camden girls basketball player Tyrelia Sawyer-Mercer:
“He was always in my ear bugging me to do better, and I didn’t understand then what he meant until my junior year when I got most improved. He’ll say, ‘When I stop coaching you, that’s what you should worry.'”
Camden football, boys basketball player Ja’Kori Evans:
“It’s how much he cares about not only his athletes but his students. He cares a lot and actually pushes you to do your best every day. He teaches you a lot. He is Camden. Whenever you see him you kind of get a little extra happiness in your day. If you’re down, you see coach Jones, you always feel a little better. It’ll be weird without him.”
Evans on Jones’ work ethic:
“He would do push-ups after practices just to show us he could do it, too. He definitely wanted to show he could still outwork us. When he flips the hat around, old man Jones is coming out.”
Camden girls basketball player Janah Hassell (no relation to me, I get that a lot BTW):
“The last three games I probably cried after every single one, because he’d give us a speech. He said he had been coaching for 28 years and was glad this team would be the last one he’d ever coach. It tore us all up.
“If I’ve needed help with anything I’ve always gone to coach Jones. I’ve cried on coach Jones’ shoulder, I’ve laughed on coach Jones’ shoulder, he’s always been there.”
Camden girls basketball player Carlia Harrell:
“He says he takes every day as his last because he said he wasn’t suppose to be here (a freak shooting accident could have cost him his life as a youth). So everything he does he does it like it’s his last day.
“(Jones said after one game) You guys might take this seriously, but I take it seriously because I have a limited time with you guys. We’re playing and have the rest of the season but we didn’t think we’re his last team.”
Edenton athletic director Wes Mattera, who played under Jones when he returned to his alma mater in 1992:
“He’s put Camden back on the map. When I first came to high school we went through some lean years and weren’t as talented. Coach Jones came from New Bern in 1992 and brought a whole new mentality.
“He’ll tell you his legacy is built on the kids that he’s impacted, people like myself and Jon Blank (now coach at Washington). I owe everything to coach Jones, he got me my first job (as a high school football assistant coach) after coming home from Ferrum after a year as a GA (graduate assistant), and I was going to go back to GA. He put his neck out for me and made that recommendation (to New Bern and coach Chip Williams). I’m greatly in debt to him.”
— Owen Hassell