Coach: Zach Jones
School: Lumberton High School
Years coaching: 14 years of coaching; 2 years at Lumberton High
WDAM: How do you motivate your team each time before they hit the field?
Jones: Our pregame routine is the same weekly. We come together and pray as a team, and then I talk to the team using our theme for that week. Sometimes that pregame talk may be a little spirited and sometimes it may be just a normal talk but, it is to remind our players to do their jobs, play as hard as they can and to play as a family.
WDAM: What is your proudest moment as a football coach and why?
Jones: Hands down, it was seeing our team come back from an 0-4 start last year and make it to the South State Championship game. Our players kept working hard and believed in the process. They also showed a tremendous amount of character. That start helped us appreciate where we finished. Hopefully, they will carry that mindset and work ethic with them throughout the rest of their lives.
WDAM: What are you looking forward to this season with your players?
Jones: The finish to last season left our players hungry for more success. They have worked very hard since January, and I look forward to watching that hard work put to use on the football field come August.
WDAM: Do you have a motto for your team? If so, what is it and how did you come up with it?
Jones: Our motto for this upcoming season is "Protect the Tradition." Lumberton has a lot of tradition on the football field (four state championships 1983, 2004, 2005 and 2010) and we want to work as hard as we can to honor and uphold that tradition. One of our seniors, Jordan Clinton, was actually the one who came up with it during the spring. When he said it, there was no doubt what our motto would be this year.
WDAM: How do you gain trust and motivate your players?
Jones: As coaches, we try to be there for our players and care for them beyond the field. We keep up with them, have an open line of communication and help them every way we can. Once a player knows you care, you develop trust. If they know you care and they trust you, then you can motivate. They have to believe in you and you must believe in them.
WDAM: Who is your greatest role model either personally or as a coach? Why?
Jones: My mom and my dad. They taught me that hard work and discipline are the avenues to success, which is what we teach in our football program.
WDAM: What mistakes have you made in your coaching career and how have you been able to learn from those mistakes?
Jones: As a coach, you think about losses more than wins. I think about players that have dropped out of school or gotten in trouble that played for us in the past and try to figure out what we could have done differently to help them. Hopefully, we can use this to help other players in the future and not make those mistakes.
WDAM: What are some ways you help your players off the field?
Jones: We monitor grades to make sure our players are not only passing, but doing the best they can. We offer tutoring and study hall when needed. We do a character development program weekly to help our players develop. We also bring in guest speakers to help with this sometimes. We also try to help our players find some kind of summer job to learn the value of hard work and money.
WDAM: How do you plan on improving as a coach from year to year?
Jones: I try to attend as many clinics as I can, study film, watch videos and read on football topics to make sure we are staying on the cutting edge of new techniques. We want to make sure as coaches we give our players the absolute best chance to be successful.
WDAM: How has coaching affected your life?
Jones: Coaching is my life. I enjoy being around the kids and watching them work on something and get better at it, whether it be football, a class in school or something in life. I couldn't imagine anything other than coaching.