By Eric Butler
Larry Jones Jr. has coached soccer before — just not at the high school level.
He has coached girls before — just not at the high school level.
He’ll get his chance to do both this fall after being named the girls soccer coach at Clovis High.
Jones succeeds Tamara Spradlin, who resigned in January for family reasons.
He said he is going to preach teamwork and discipline.
“I think it’s going to be a learning experience. It’s going to take a little on the job training,” Jones said. “At the high school level, the speed of the game is a little different. It’s going to take a little while to adjust and learn about the teams in district.”
A junior high coach since 1997, Jones is excited about the opportunity.
“I’ve always wanted to coach at the high-school level — probably more at basketball,” he said. “But you’ve got to start somewhere.”
Jones coached the seventh-grade volleyball team and the ninth-grade girls basketball team at Gattis Junior High last year. The Springfield, Mass., native was at Marshall from 1997 to 2002.
Jones was hired in May in time for team tryouts.
“I think he’s going to be a lot of help,” said returning senior goaltender Jessica Doss. “It’ll be different than last year, but it’ll help.”
Clovis athletic director Dale Fullerton said he isn’t worried about Jones’ lack of experience at the high school level.
“I think he’s been around it long enough, with his kids being in it, that he’s got a lot of knowledge about it — probably more than many people who do have varsity coaching experience,” he said.
Three of Jones’ children — two sons and a daughter — played varsity soccer for Clovis. Larry Jr. and Gabe Jones played on Clovis’ 1998 state championship team. Daughter Karyn was a four-year starter.
Jones coached all three in youth leagues.
The Lady Wildcats’ last state tournament appearance was in 1999.
Jones said he didn’t get a chance to see the Lady Wildcats play last year.
“I don’t really know what they did or how they looked, so it’s pretty much a fresh start,” Jones said. “It’s starting from scratch basically.”
“We’ve got quite a bit of speed, so we’ve just got to work on the mentality. I told them that I’ve got to change them to be sort of tough. We want to be able to play a finesse game, but be physical when we need to.”