The dream of Friday Night Lights at Lakeway Christian Academy has become a reality this fall. What you might miss in the bright lights, pep band and excitement, however, is the real heart behind Lakeway’s first-year football program.
Every morning as he drives to work, Lakeway Football Coach Jermel Jones said he prays that God will give him the right words.
“Every day, I want to make somebody’s day better because they had the opportunity to be around me through me loving on them, giving them high fives, crying with them, whatever that looks like,” Jones said. “It’s not about me. It’s about what God has created me to do and what God has called me here to do. I want kids when they leave these four walls to know that Coach Jones not only talked about change, but he was the change. And prayerfully, those things will overflow and our kids will begin to pay those things forward. And hopefully that creates change within our community.”
To Coach Jones, it’s about so much more than football. It’s about a living a life that makes a difference in the lives of others and in the community around us.
“I don’t feel that God gave me this platform to only teach young men x’s and o’s, but He gave me this platform to make sure that I pour into them mentally, physically, and spiritually,” said Jones. “It’s way more than just about us running and catching a football or tackling somebody; it’s about how can we make these young men be great young men and helpers in their community.”
In addition to being Head Football Coach, Jones also serves as Dean of Students at Lakeway.
“I believe that being dean is about building relationships so that when a kid is involved in something, they’ll know that the person they’re going to talk to cares about them more than just them getting in trouble,” said Jones.
Coach Jones began his football career as a student athlete. Sadly, his time as a player was cut short by a torn ACL his senior year at First Coast High School in Jacksonville, Florida. Nevertheless, this setback opened the door for Coach Jones’ first coaching opportunity. He coached running backs at First Coast for eight years, helping to build a powerhouse out of his alma mater and making it to the state championship game.
Following his stint at First Coast High School, Jones moved to Orlando where he led a program turnaround at The Master’s Academy, winning the Florida state championship in 2019.
Coach Jones comes to Lakeway with hopes of leading a similar turnaround here for the Lions in East Tennessee.
“Within our first two competitions, we’ve had opportunity to see as a staff that our guys are willing to compete and not give up, and I think when you have a ball club that’s willing to compete and not give up no matter what the scoreboard says, you can build great things off of that,” said Jones.
No doubt, the future of Lakeway Football is very bright. In the meantime, Lakeway’s staff is focusing on three main goals.
“One lesson is the idea of one percent. Every day, we want to get a little bit better. In class, on the football field, and in every area of life, just find ways to get one percent better,” said Jones.
The second lesson, he said, is not focus on the scoreboard, but “compete for God’s glory.”
“And the last thing that we have really been harping on is to be the change,” Jones said. “A lot of us want to see change and talk about change, but let’s go be the change.”