Wardell Jones, who coaches youth football for the Texas Heat (Spring, Texas), has won Positive Coaching Alliance’s coveted Double-Goal Coach® Award presented by TeamSnap for his positive impact on youth athletes.
Jones is one of 50 national recipients of the Double-Goal Coach award, named for coaches who strive to win while also pursuing the more important goal of teaching life lessons through sports. The award includes a $200 prize, a certificate, and mention within the websites and newsletters of Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA), a national non-profit developing Better Athletes, Better People through youth and high school sports.
“Wardell helps his athletes win on and off the field,” said Albert “AJ” Johnson, Executive Director of PCA-Houston, the local Chapter of Positive Coaching Alliance. “By creating a positive, character-building youth sports experience and serving as a Double-Goal Coach, Wardell helps youth develop into better athletes and better people.”
Jones has spent some 20 years volunteering in youth sports, including his leadership of Texas Heat, where he coaches primarily 8-to-15-year-olds. The team travels the South, playing in tournaments sanctioned by Amateur Athletic Union and other organizers. Even in such competitive environments, Jones does not simply select the most talented players for his team, but mixes in players who require the development he believes he can provide.
“I never took just the best of the best, because I feel it’s a coach’s job to build players up,” Jones said. “If you have some of the best players, and some who are really striving to be better, you will allow them to build themselves up and become more competitive. Even kids who don’t have the ability, bring them in, pull them up, and you will make them better, not just in sports, but in life.”
Jones establishes a team culture based on respect, where “Players play, coaches coach, and parents cheer,” he said. “I believe in giving undivided and complete attention. We don’t yell at kids. There’s absolutely no profanity, because we don’t want to demoralize anybody. We want to build them up and have them grasp how to build for their future.”
Jones emphasizes the importance of effort with his players, “because when you get older, things are going to get tougher,” he said. “When you’re trying to get a certain job, recognize that if you’re giving 75-percent effort, there are going to be thousands of others giving 85, 90 and 95 percent, and some even close to 100 percent. In our program, the older players inculcate that into the younger ones. I tell them not to look at the young ones like you’re too good for them. Always give back, because someone else gave back to you.”
Whether Jones is coaching his players to wins or helping them earn college scholarships or sharing moments like the one when a 12-year-old player explained out loud at a team barbecue last November how Jones had helped him through years of anxiety and depression, Jones reminds himself and other coaches: “Do it for the passion or the love. Don’t do it for the victories. Doing it right, you will get the victories. But most of all you want these kids to come to you when they’re adults and say they appreciate everything you’ve done for them. That’s the true reward.”