A Call to Coach: The Story of Mike Jones’s Return to the Court/by Meeby Ballard
Mississippi College is proud to welcome Coach Mike Jones back to the court for his return as the head men’s basketball coach. Coach Jones has known from the start of his career that coaching basketball was more than just a job, it was an opportunity to make a difference and support young athletes. Now, he’s going into his twentieth year of coaching with more championships under his belt than he has fingers, and he’s ready to lead this year’s team. “I have come to know him as a leader on our campus, and his love for our student-athletes is exemplary,” said MC President Dr. Blake Thompson. “I am excited that Mike Jones has agreed to return to his calling of coaching.”
Coaching has been a lifelong endeavor for Coach Jones. “I knew at an early age that was what I wanted to do,” he said. His father passed away when he was only fifteen years old. “I had to grow up fast. Athletics were a big part of my life, and I had great high school coaches that were like fathers to me.” He worked hard in school to secure scholarships and played basketball at a junior college and then at Mississippi College. He continued his education at MC, earning his master’s degree, and then continued on to the University of Southern Mississippi to complete thirty hours in athletic administration beyond his master’s. Coach Jones’s coaching career began at Mississippi College as a graduate assistant before he continued on to be an assistant coach at Southern Miss. “I left there and went back to Co-Lin Community College, coached there for four years, and then the head coaching job at Mississippi College opened here in 1988. I came here and I’ve been here ever since,” he said. Coach Jones has coached at MC for sixteen seasons, and he has also served as the Athletic Director since 2008.
Coming out of retirement was not in the playbooks for Coach Jones, but as he tells it, the higher power had other plans. “Everywhere I tried to get a door closed, God opened it,” he said. Dr. Thompson paid him a visit and asked him to pray about returning as the head coach. Coach Jones had triple bypass heart surgery several years ago, so he was concerned about how the return to the sidelines would affect his health. However, his doctor informed him that he was in great health. “I knew I was in a situation where I was going to have to make a decision. I prayed and prayed, and my kids liked it, and my wife liked it,” he said with a smile, “and I just thought maybe God was calling me back, and so I chose to do it. You never know what God’s got for you, but I’ve already seen, in my opinion, God being able to use me. It’s been a blessing.”
Coach Jones will continue to serve as the Athletic Director. He oversees all the sports here on campus. “I make sure the budgets stay in line, I’m actually the overseer of our compliance director and our academics, and I help make certain that everything is going the way it’s supposed to,” he explained. “The beauty of being the Athletic Director and a coach is that I have such wonderful people and smart people who are my coworkers, and people who are accountable who take a big load off of me.” Coach Jones has the support of his staff, as well.
“We’re excited to see Coach Jones back on the sideline, leading our men’s basketball team,” said David Nichols, the Sports Information Director here at Mississippi College. “He’s a Mississippi Sports Hall of Famer and an MC Hall of Famer. He’s been a great boss as the Athletic Director, but it’ll be great seeing him in his new role. He’s always been an outstanding leader within our athletic department, so I have no doubt that will translate well leading our men’s basketball team.”
The first game for the 2019-2020 season is right around the corner. “We’ve got a great group of young men,” Coach Jones said. “I have really enjoyed being around them. They have bought in. I think that they listen; they’re very attentive; they’ve been working very hard. I like the floor. I like teaching on the floor. I like the relationships with the kids. Those are the things I really like more than anything else.” He values the young men he coaches for more than just their athletic ability. “I think it’s my ministry to be able to help young people, not just in coaching, but in their lives. That’s what God called me to do.”
The Choctaws will return to A. E. Wood Coliseum on Nov. 8 as they host Belhaven at 8 p.m.