Highland Park High School’s newest addition- PE teacher and boys basketball coach Jason Jones- stopped by the school today to introduce himself to everyone and meet his new players.
Coach Jones, who is married and has three children, told the players how excited he was to be back in Kansas after teaching and coaching in Florida and Georgia for the past couple years.
He also explained his coaching philosophies to the boys and talked to them about his goals for them as athletes and as students. He encouraged them to work hard, have integrity and pride, be willing to make sacrifices for the good of the team and have passion for the game. He explained his own enthusiasm for basketball. “I love this game; it’s what I’ve spent my entire life doing. If basketball were ever taken from me, it’d kind of be like losing my arm. It’s what I love and what I want to do.”
While Coach Jones shares a love for the sport with his players, he explained that he also expects the kids to pull their weight academically. “You need to take care of your business in the classroom, the weight room and on the court….Strive for excellence in everything you do. You can’t flip it on and off like a light switch. You’re either excellent in everything you do, or you’re not.”
Coach Jones is eager to begin working with the players and plans to start summer training on June 9th. “There are challenges in taking over for such a legend like Coach Darting, but as a coach, the challenges are what I look for,” he said. When asked about possible changes to the program, Jones explained, “The program has been built on hard work, commitment and dedication, and that won’t change. The core values will stay the same.”
The players seemed excited to meet their new leader and look forward to working with him this summer. Soon-to-be-senior Abdul McFoxx said, “I’ll be doing some traveling basketball this summer, but I still want to get in to work with Coach Jones to build some chemistry and see how he works.” He went on to explain that he’s not at all nervous about playing under a new coach. “I’m looking forward to having fun and working hard.”
Teammate Jahlil Osby, who will be a junior next year, is also looking forward to working with Coach Jones and explained that the opportunity to learn from a new coach would make him a stronger player. Ultimately, though, Jahlil wants to continue to be part of a successful program. “I just want to keep the tradition of winning going. No one else can be Coach Darting, but if we can keep winning, that’s what I want. I love to win.”
For his part, Coach Darting is also looking forward to this new chapter in his life, and has no regrets about his “well thought out” decision to pass the torch to a new coach. He doesn’t plan to attend a lot of games at first, but if he does, he said he will be hiding out in the back of the stands. “I just want to give (Coach Jones) room to work with his team,” Coach D explained.
June 9th will begin a new era of basketball at Highland Park High School. But everyone from the players to the administration to the coaches -Coach Darting, included- seems ready for the challenges and victories that await.