What a great night it was celebrating service, and the man who epitomizes service to others, Bob Jones. Hundreds came out to support Bob, and listen to up and coming band, Dire Fire, led by AHS alum Randy Campbell. It was a great way to celebrate all of the good that Bob has brought to our community for the past 36 years. To forego the rest of this post, and go straight to the photos, click HERE.
I first met Bob in the fall of 1986, when I was a sophomore at AHS and he was a coach for the football program. A great teacher also, I can remember being bitterly disappointed when as a senior, finally eligible to take his Human Survival class (the most popular in the building), I learned that he would have a student teacher for most of the semester. He was as inspirational a teacher, as he has been in his role of Activities/Athletics Coordinator. Every day of class, he had an inspirational quote on the board that we were to copy down, ponder, and find ways that it could benefit our lives. Clearly, Bob has continued the inspiration as he battles cancer, using quotes to help both himself and others on this war with cancer.
Fast forward to 1994. Fresh out of college, without a care or clue in the world, I ended up back at AHS. I remember the exact place I was standing when I got a phone call from Bob, inviting me to join his coaching staff. By then, Bob was the head coach and had built a consistent state contender, that was the envy of many a program. I enthusiastically accepted, and from then on, I became one of the many that Bob has mentored. Over the next 9 years coaching with Bob, being roommates at coaching camps, eating lunch with a group of friends and even students in and around his office, and popping in on my planning period to catch up on life and get advice, I can honestly say that I learned everything good that I know about teaching and coaching, from him. I continue to admire the way he can lift you up when you need it, and also help redirect your thoughts and actions in another direction, without a condescending or belittling tone. He has always treated people with the utmost respect and dignity. I think that's why we all love Bob, and seek his advice so quickly.
Over the years, I have loved seeing Bob and catching up on all things life and AHS. He makes everybody feel like family and brings a real sense of purpose to our lives as teachers at AHS. In football, he says that once you've played for him, you're one of his guys forever. That is no small statement. He has done that through the ups and downs of player's lives, including good decisions and bad ones as well. People probably don't realize how much he reaches out and encourages former players who still need him as their coach. He is definitely the best head coach you could ask for. He was Pete Carroll before Pete Carroll was.
One of the memories that will forever be seared in my memory was in the hours following his diagnosis with cancer. He had just returned from the doctor, and was scheduled to help me shoot some team photos of our cheer squad. I needed him to help me set up the scoreboard, and in spite of what he had just learned, he showed up to help. I will never forget as he told me what he had just learned, still very fresh and raw. As we fought back tears and tried to grasp the news, we were surrounded by high school kids, with an excited nervousness/chaos for the photos that 16 year old kids bring, and Bob didn't want them to know anything was wrong. I don't think I remember a single thing from that photo shoot, as all I could think about was Bob, and the news of the day. Yet, in spite of this, there he was...smiling and talking with the kids, and helping out anyway he could. Not many people would be willing to do that. He epitomizes grace and class, even in the midst of a storm.
Last night, as we celebrated all that Bob stands for, and focused on being servants at AHS, while watching a great up and coming band, Dire Fire, I couldn't help but feel gratitude for knowing Bob Jones. Bob, you are the heart and soul of AHS, and inspire students and staff everyday. Thank you for everything that you have done and continue to do for us. You are simply amazing! My life is better because of you!
More photos from last night can be found HERE.