Erin Jones accepts dream job at McKenzie School

Published 12:30 pm Sunday, May 7, 2023

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Nearly a decade ago, Erin Brogden Jones helped McKenzie School coach Donna Byrd launch the Tiger’s volleyball program. Now, Jones returns to McKenzie as the school’s head volleyball coach and assistant softball coach.

“My aunt, Cindy Lowe Smith, was a basketball and softball coach at McKenzie for years and years,” Jones said. “Growing up, I was always down there and around her teams. I can just remember her being an influential part of [athlete’s] lives. I wanted to be down there so bad. With helping start the volleyball program, it’s nice to go back and be the head coach.”

After helping to launch McKenzie’s volleyball program, Jones volunteered as the Tiger’s assistant coach for about five years, then accepted a position as Lowndes Academy coach. Later, she transitioned to Fort Dale Academy where she saw the junior varsity (JV) team win the Alabama Independent School Association Championship and the varsity Eagles advance to the Elite Eight.

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“That was sort of a big deal,” Jones said. “I don’t think they had done that before.”

Jones and her husband Trent live in Letohatchee but will soon relocate to Georgiana. After coaching at Fort Dale, she recently took a year off to deliver the couple’s third son and was adjusting to having a newborn again when she received a call from McKenzie Principal Michael Collins.

“I took a year off [from coaching] to have a baby,” Jones said. “Then, Mr. Collins offered me this job back at McKenzie.”

Collins said the school will benefit from Jones’s proven track record. He is looking forward to having her on staff as a coach and elementary teacher.

“She’s not new to coaching volleyball,” Collins said. “She was interested in coming back and she’s had a lot of success in other places. We’re lucky to have her.”

Jones’s official duties begin in the fall, but she will begin training student athletes over the summer.

“She’s also going to be here some afternoons at the end of the school year, doing tryouts and getting her team together.”

Collins anticipates the Tigers will have varsity and JV teams and may also offer junior high volleyball for middle schoolers.

Reflecting on her own years as a volleyball player, Jones recalled that coaches had impacted her life and helped to shape her future. She aims to give back by helping to mold and mentor student athletes in the same way.

“Coaches were the most influential people in my life,” Jones said. “I’m very competitive. I love competition. I love the sports of volleyball and softball as well. I want to be able to help create that drive in girls and then hopefully I will be as influential to them as my coaches were to me.”