Arnold officially introduces Chris Jones as new baseball coach
A week and a half after making the hire official, Chris Jones is one step closer to calling Arnold High School home.
AHS baseball players were able to meet their new head coach and Jones was able to get a feel for his new environment, introduced at a press conference Wednesday morning.
Arnold principal Brit Smith and athletic director Rick Green took to the podium to say a few words about the search that wound up with Jones being hired away from Elsinore High School in Wildomar, California, about an hour and a half southeast of L.A.
Coach Jones flew in with his wife and two daughters, their first visit to Panama City Beach.
Along with checking out the school and looking around at some real estate, a priority for coach Jones was meeting up with returning players and potential incoming players.
"Out on the field, we'll have them spread out," Jones said. "I guess I'll be talking on the microphone so they can hear me and so we can stay within all these guidelines. I'll try and get to know them and let them see who I am. Fire away some questions at me, see how things are going to be and sort of get started. I'm going to have to pack my house and come back in about a month, but at least get them started before I takeoff."
Jones led his previous team to the playoffs in eight of 12 seasons, twice making the state semifinals. He also brings Division I and JUCO coaching experience with a list of former players who've made it to the big leagues, checking off all the boxes for athletic director Rick Green.
"That's what we're looking for," Green said. "Yeah it's about winning, but it's about helping these baseball players win at life too. Not every great baseball player that plays at the next level played on a high school team that won state championships. So he's got the connections, he'll make the calls, and that's what we need."
Among the objectives: keep good baseball players that grow up near Arnold High School at Arnold High School, given a recent history of good AHS players moving to other schools/programs.
"We've helped some other teams in this area advance a long way in the playoffs." Green added. "Our number one goal is to keep all our kids here on the beach. If we do that, we know we can be competitive. We don't want kids to think they've got to go somewhere else to school to play sports and to thrive."
Jones is aware of the recent history and taking a long term approach, knowing if he puts up wins and players succeed beyond high school, that takes care of everything.
"The first year and the first impression certainly is important," Jones said. "But I think people that will follow along will realize in two, three or four years, we hopefully keep growing and keep getting better, proving to be a solid, tough out every time we play and we get kids on to college to move on to bigger and better things. I feel like that's the goal: to establish that kind of program here. First impression is important, but four years from now I still want it to be the place to go."