Jones, Dee deserve recognition also

Published 3:12 pm Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Moments after the state championship match, John Jones was walking the bench, hugging each and every one of his Kingwood volleyball players. He’d been waiting years for the opportunity to call a Kingwood team AISA state champions.

This was his year.

However, Jones will be the first to admit that timing is everything. One thing that helped his team succeed this year was the absence in Class 2A of Faith Academy and Cottage Hill, who both moved to the AHSAA this season.

Unfortunately when it comes to selecting post-season honors, timing is everything again.

Jones is highly deserving of of being known as Shelby County’s Coach of the Year, but it’s hard to share the Coach of the Year title with a Pelham Panther coaching duo that went 60-5 against some of the state’s most fierce competition and some of the top teams in the Southeast while maintaing a No. 1 ranking in the state.

Last year, I gave shared titles to Tena Niven of Montevallo and Robbie Wilson of Briarwood for their strong coaching efforts to take their teams to the Elite Eight.

Any other year, Jones could be Coach of the Year for what he accomplished. The same can be said for Briarwood’s Justin Dee.

Dee left the college scene in July to take over the Briarwood Lions for the first season. Coaching a mile away from U.S. 280 is a lot different than leading a small NAIA program in Batesville, Ark. But Dee was ready for the challenge.

While the Lions had been to the state championship match two-straight years, it was hard to say they’d be a favorite to return this year. After all, Dee had barely seen the girls practice when the season began.

His personality allowed him to get to know the girls quickly, and Dee helped put together an undefeated start that slowly helped keep Briarwood right where it has been in years past.

While we’re not sharing the title this season, both coaches should be applauded for their great seasons — ones they are sure to always remember.