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Q&A With CAC’s Elementary Basketball Athletic Directors

CAC Spotlight on George and Laura Jones

George and Laura JonesHow long have you been running the elementary basketball program? How did you originally land the gig? 

We were asked to cover for someone one weekend and we’ve been doing it ever since! We never really stopped to count how long we’ve been doing this, but we must be going on our 12th year or so. It really doesn’t feel like it’s been that long!

Between coordinating games, handling admissions and concessions, and not to mention keeping the fans in check, how do you manage it all?

We’ve kept with a tradition of hiring high school juniors and seniors as our staff. Over the past several years we’ve had a really good core group of kids, and now they could probably run it without us.

In what ways do you think elementary athletes benefit from having older CAC students around? 

We’ve had a lot of great high school students help us out over the years. Kids like DJ Williams — these elementary kids wouldn’t just see him playing football — he was running the clocks at their games, he was telling them to sub in and he was talking to them. We’ve seen the older kids grow and mature because they realize these younger kids know who they are, and they know these kids are watching what they’re doing.

Part of your role is “coaching the coaches.” What are some of the main principles you try to impart on them?

That elementary basketball is instructional, which means we’re going to give every child the opportunity to grow and learn the skills and to learn them the right way. No shortcuts. We hope by doing that we instill in them a love of the game. Sometimes you have kids that may be less talented than others, but if they have heart, and if they give you 110 percent… you can teach skills later on, but you can’t teach heart.

Outside of your work and basketball games, how do you spend your time?  

We have two daughters and we’re raising our 3-year-old and 9-month-old nephews — so we raise children! But aside from that we do anything sports related. We go see our daughter Jordan in Fayetteville and we travel a lot to see Sydnie play volleyball or basketball or soccer — whatever sport she’s playing.

Through all these years, what’s motivated you to stay involved with elementary basketball?  

There’s a varsity player, who if you would have told us he was going to be the athlete he is today, we would have said no way. Never. But he learned the skills and stuck with it, and that’s what’s so rewarding. We never know how kids will turn out, but we’ve been doing this for so long now that we’ve seen students who started with us go on to be the senior scoring 15 points in a game. And you see these friendships that form and last throughout high school. Those are the parts where we can sit back and smile and go, “OK, this is worth it.”