Cherokee Bluff football coach Tommy Jones has kept things in perspective.
Success hasn’t changed his primary identity as a Christian, husband and father of two daughters Avery, 21, and Sydney, 19.
His moral compass has aided greatly in building programs and helping young men see the bigger picture.
So far this season, the Cherokee Bluff High football team has remained focused in being undefeated after nine weeks.
The Bears (7-0, 3-0 Region 7-3A) are looking to defend their first region championship, but have a challenging schedule remaining.
Up next, Cherokee Bluff hosts Dawson County (4-3, 3-0) on Friday at Yonah Field in Flowery Branch.
Jones, 48, understands coaches are judged by the number of wins and loses. However, he’s self-aware enough to know that this is not what defines him as a person.
“It is a constant battle to remind yourself of what the truth is,” Jones said. “I got five reminders I try to give myself.”
These reminders are Jones’ play sheet for life and coaching.
“One, My significance is in Jesus alone, not in a win-loss record. Two, God has called us to this place, regardless of where it is, for a greater purpose than football. Third, prayer equals right thinking. Fourth is not to quit! To continue pressing on. Fifth, God is the God of the impossible. That doesn’t mean that it will guarantee a win. Believing that God is sovereign. He will work things out for the best.”
This list is never too far from Jones reach or heart.
If he ever needs a reminder his wife, Cory, will help remind him of this list.
Her reminder came when Jones was the head coach at Lumpkin County from 2006-2012.
In the first year, the Indians went 0-10.
Jones was questioning himself on whether being the head coach of a football program was where he was supposed to be.
After sitting with his wife in the offseason, it was when Jones put this list together.
“Wives, like they always do, have a good way to speak truth in our hearts,” he said. “I try to keep those posted and think about those things often.”
Getting into the coaching profession seemed like an ideal professional career.
His father was a career high school football coach for 45 years, finishing up at Brookwood High after 28 years.
Jones’ younger brother, Phillip, is the seventh-year head coach at Brookwood.
Coaching is what the Cherokee Bluff coach knew growing up.
After graduating from Furman in 1996, he became a graduate assistant coach for two years.
He then went into college ministries for a few years, called Campus Ministries, at Western Carolina University.
While he enjoyed sharing the word with those interested in seeking, Jones missed the day-to-day process of being a football coach on the sideline.
He realized coaching football was a great opportunity to be active in ministry, while working with young kids and the ability to make an impact with them.
He got involved with campus ministries in college.
It made an impact on his life.
This is where Jones met his wife, during a 10-week summer beach project in Daytona Beach, Fla.
So, going to Western Carolina allowed them to pioneer a campus ministries on the Cullowhee, N.C. campus.
While he was not on the actual sidelines coaching, Jones was still consuming football, attending his dad’s high school games or younger brothers games at South Carolina.
A friend approached Jones him about getting back into coaching.
This is where his vision was cleared to bring both of his passions together.
Jones got back into the game in 2000, with stops at Dacula, Oconee County and South Gwinnett as an assistant coach.
His first coaching job was in 2006, at Lumpkin County, where he stayed for seven seasons.
He returned to Dacula as head coach in 2013, winning three region titles in five seasons, before being named Cherokee Bluff’s first head coach in 2018.
Even before taking the job, Jones spent some time praying about the decision before accepting the job.
“I really like to look at it, God is the center and when he is the center, anything else we do we do is for his glory,” Jones said. “We are far from perfect at it and we make mistakes. We always want to try and honor him in doing what we do.”