LFO's legendary Coach Jerry Jones celebrating 50 years - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

LFO's legendary Coach Jerry Jones celebrating 50 years

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FORT OGLETHORPE, GA (WRCB) - Jerry Jones just may be the best known man in Catoosa County.   Fifty years of teaching and coaching at Ringgold and Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe can make you a household name, and even get your name on buildings, like the new LFO basketball gym, dedicated in his honor.  In the classroom, he enjoys sharing his stories verbally. He admits he's still catching up to technology. "Yes, one time, I wrote something with a permanent marker on that big screen.  I won't live that one down for a while," he laughed.

His lectures reflect his passion for teaching.   He's lived through a lot of history in his 71 years. "These kids are amazed that I was born during the second year of World War Two," he said.  "Then I tell them I didn't use an indoor bathroom until I was 12, and they don't know what to say.

Gearing up for another season as LFO's boys basketball coach, Jones has won 585 games in his career.  "The game has changed, but kids are still kids," he said.  "I still use the same handbook I did when I started.  They're going to follow the rules, or they won't play very long for me.  It's worked pretty well so far."

Players like Tanner Bennett agree.  "Not everybody can say they play for a coach with 585 wins," he said.  "He cares about your work in the classroom too, he wants you to do good in school."  Elizabeth Oliver, a girls basketball star for LFO, doesn't play for Coach Jones, but says his influence rubs off anyway.  "We just watch him in the gym.  He has so much passion for the game, and that's what you need to be successful.  He even goes to games in the other sports, just to support his students.  He's a legend in this school."

One year ago, Coach Jones didn't expect to be teaching or coaching in 2014.  In fact, he admits he didn't think he'd be alive.  There were complications following prostate surgery, causing him to lose his appetite, withering his six-foot frame to 119 pounds.  "I lost the will to live," he said.  "I didn't want to see anybody, and didn't want them to see me.  I was unresponsive, they didn't know what was wrong with me." 

 Doctors at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta were able to restore his health, and Coach Jones surprised administrators and students by showing up for work this fall saying, "I'm ready to come back."  He's teaching history and gearing up for another basketball season.  "I'm hoping to stick around here another four years if I can," he said.  "I think the Lord is saying I still have some work to do."

Principal Terri Vandiver says she can't imagine LFO without Coach Jones.  "He has seen so many changes in education during fifty years, but he's the first one to get re-certified and stay current on state standards.  We're very fortunate to have him, still inspiring teachers and students at LFO every day."

 Contact David Carroll:  dcarroll@wrcbtv.com

Follow on Twitter:  www.twitter.com/DAVIDCARROLL3

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