By Dave Denniston
CARLSBAD, Calfiornia, November 28. THIRTY years ago, Jim L. Jones started helping young athletes realize their own potential by helping them set and achieve goals. He saw a need for the kids that “fell through the cracks” to get back on their feet and make the most out of their potential. Coach Jones took on the task of helping these kids dream, believe in their dreams, and achieve their dreams for the last thirty years.
Most people would never guess who Coach Jones is out of a lineup. In his own words, he looks like a walnut. But if you could see his heart, it is one of the most beautiful that has ever been created. What makes him so beautiful is his constant encouragement of the people around him. Even now.
Fourteen months ago Coach Jones was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. At that time they gave him three weeks to live. Since then, he has made it a point to touch someone’s life everyday. His family and doctors are actually frustrated with him because he is so positive all the time that they can’t tell how he is really doing. Here is a man, that could die any day, and the doctors are completely baffled at how he can maintain such a positive attitude.
Long ago, Jim Jones made his ambition the fulfillment of a child’s dream. He has touched thousands of athletes from swimmers, to football players to golfers. His life is about encouraging other people and letting go of his own personal ambitions. His own purpose isn’t about himself, but about encouraging everyone around him to dream big, and reach those dreams.
No one knows how long Coach Jones is going to continue on. But his son, Rob Jones, has made sure that the spirit of Coach Jones and his lessons and life work will continue on through the JLJ Reach Foundation.
The JLJ Reach Foundation had its first Annual banquet this past weekend to honor Coach Jones and established itself for the purpose of encouraging struggling athletes. Josh Davis and Neil Walker were a few of the celebrity athletes in attendance. The best way to honor Jim Jones and the Foundation that has been created is to encourage a young person in the community to reach their potential and become the best that they can be.
Just think about how great this world would be if we let go of all of our own selfish ambitions and instead encouraged the young people of today to reach for their own dreams. Get involved with the life of a teen athlete and just talk to them. That’s all Coach Jones really did. He talked to kids and made them believe in themselves.
When I won the 200 breaststroke in 1999 at NCAA’s, the first thing I did was go find a phone and call a number I had memorized, “Hey Jim, we did it! We won!”