Ocean Lakes head coach Joe Jones with recruit757 founder Andy Hilton (Photo: Lance Hinton/recruit757)
Joe Jones will hang up his whistle after 35 years
by Andy Hilton, recruit757
Local head football coach and public school teacher Joe Jones will retire after 35 years of serving the community.
Jones, born in Pennsylvania with deep roots in Virginia has been a staple on the local gridiron.
“I’ve been thinking and praying about it since the start of the season, and decided a couple of weeks ago that the time was right for me to step down and retire from being a head coach for a couple of reasons; mainly to focus on taking care of my health and preparing for life after football with my wife and family,” WAVY-TV sports reporter Nathan Epstein quoted Jones as saying.
The Ocean Lakes Dolphins finished their football season a little more than a week ago and had a bye week to close out the season. The Dolphins were waiting to see if they had enough power points to earn a spot in the VHSL Region 6A playoff. Grassfield edged them out with a win over Great Bridge on Saturday, claiming the final seed and ending Ocean Lakes’ season.
In 2019, Coach Jones won the Redskins Coach of the Year award, a state-wide honor.
Jones had an off-season knee surgery after the 2019 campaign, and like many former football players, has experienced a number of lingering aches and pains. He played college football at Virginia Tech and had a short NFL career before becoming an educator.
In addition to coaching Ocean Lakes, Jones brought the King’s Fork football program to prominence and he also served as head coach at Windsor, Franklin and Smithfield. He and his wife moved to Deep Creek after calling Suffolk home for many years. Jones remarked many times about the commute to Ocean Lakes (at the far east side of Virginia Beach), but always talked about how much he enjoyed working with young people.
Many of his athletes have gone on to college football and even the NFL, most notably Baltimore Ravens defensive back Chuck Clark, who played for Jones at King’s Fork.
Coach Jones led King’s Fork to the playoffs four times in his tenure there, and his 2018 Ocean Lakes team advanced to the VHSL Class 6 state semifinal before falling to eventual state champion Manchester. In that game, he coached against long-time friend Tom Hall, creating one of many memories that Jones will treasure in his retirement.
Jones is not retiring from teaching, only coaching football. Knowing his love for the game, it’s possible that we’ll see him back on the sidelines in another role sometime in the near future.
– Andy Hilton