Jones looks to revive athletics at Charles City High School
When most people see Charles City native Andre’ Jones, he’s covering a board meeting, a community event, or a person is reading his articles in the New Kent-Charles City Chronicle. But like a lot of people in today’s society, Jones holds a multitude of side jobs.
But when a call came from Charles City High School to become the athletic director in Summer 2018, there was one thing on his mind.
“I had to do it,” he said. “My heart couldn’t see me abandoning my high school alum and this group of kids.”
Jones began the process of reviving the athletic department by evaluating the past, present, and the future of programs at the school.
“There have been so many people who have held this position as well as coaches who helped elevate athletics at Charles City,” Jones commented. “Their hard work helped set the foundation and I just want to help with the construction of the building.”
But right out the gate Jones was hit with a barrage from media outlets. In 2018, Charles City had to cancel its football and volleyball seasons due to a lack of participation and interest from student-athletes. Jones did not deny the fact that academics factored into some athletes not being able to participate.
“When it came to football, I did not feel comfortable fielding a team of 12 players,” he said. “I’m not going to risk the safety of these kids nor the integrity of these programs.
“When it came to academics, there were some student-athletes who didn’t do what they needed to do in the classroom,” he said, pointing to some pupils not passing five classes the previous year, thus making them ineligible. “From there, we push out students to have a 2.0 or better because these kids need to remember that they are students first, athletes second.”
With the cancellation of the fall sports, school board members addressed concerns from parents and the community at a August 2018 town hall. There, parents voiced concerns and pleaded for communication between administration and teachers.
“It was time to do an outreach from there,” Jones said. “This is a community that I live in and I know how they feel. I wanted to let them know that I was going to assist them to help make these student-athletes better both academically and athletically.”
Winter sports went better for Charles City High School. A respectable basketball season along with a Winter homecoming unified the community once again. But as Spring sports around, a lack of interest in baseball, softball, and soccer left track and field as the only Spring sport at the high school.
“I knew the interest in softball and soccer would be low, but when baseball couldn’t field nine players, then that’s when something had to be done,” he said. “I began to conduct interviews with students to garner interest levels of our department.”
With information, Jones began an outreach to the community. Hosting a sports seminar, he received feedback from the few in attendance. Through personal knowledge gathered through his own coaching experiences and observations at other schools, Jones focused on a fresh approach in attempting to revive athletics.
“I am reaching out to the community and the parents,” he said, pointing to social media platforms to make announcements. “I am being as transparent with them as possible and there will be some uphill battles for years to come. But if it’s for the students, then I’m all for it.”
Jones has already put his stamp early on as he enters his second year. With the assistance of Charles City Regional Health Services, Charles City student-athletes will be able to get sports physicals done at a reduced cost.
“That has always been an issue when it comes to fielding teams,” the athletic director said. “Even when I coached, I told students to get their physicals way in advance prior to the start of the sports season. Now, they don’t have an excuse not to get one.”
Jones commented that the school plans to bring back football on a reduced schedule for the next two years in hopes to boost interest. Volleyball is also expected to return this Fall. He also is pushing for softball, baseball, and soccer to return in the Spring.
Jones has also added a new sport to Charles City’s athletic department. The school will field its first indoor track team, something he has been passionately fighting for.
“There are minimum start-up costs for indoor track and it will give our athletes something to do besides basketball in the winter sports,” Jones said.
But the 38-year old didn’t slow down in his interview. He announced that the school will have its first annual Charles City High School Athletics Hall of Fame Class this year.
“After seeing what [New Kent High School athletic director] John Spiak did with his Hall of Fame ceremony, it was only right that we have one of our own,” Jones said as he praised Spiak. “He has been such a help assisting me in this transition and words go beyond his knowledge of what he does to keep things working over there with a ton more sports than what I have.”
Jones says he now hopes to get the community involved more in efforts to make the programs reach their peak performance.
“I’ve had and continue to have phenomenal parents and coaches who assist me in all that I do,” he said. “They are the ones who assist with making this department run, and I am hoping others will join.
“From running the concession stand to taking tickets, those things have a lot of impact,” Jones continued. “Even if you don’t want to volunteer or assist, come out and sit in the stands for at least one game and support our student-athletes. Just having people in the stands can make a world of difference.”
As far as the Chronicle is concerned, Jones says he’s not going anywhere.
“I prefer to be the writer of the story and not the subject,” he laughed jokingly. “I’m going to continue to report and write what I hear, and that’s what keeps me out of trouble.”
For more information regarding upcoming athletic activities at Charles City High School, visit www.ccps.net or email Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org.