Inspiring Coaches Finalist Victoria Jones

Mill Springs Academy - Alpharetta, GA

Number of years coaching: Almost 10 years coaching both Track and Cross Country.

At a glance: Coach Victoria Jones offers an athletic outlet for students at Mill Springs Academy, a small school designed for those with learning disabilities. She goes out of her way to make sure every athlete gets what they need, and she always opens opportunities for leadership. Her belief in them makes her athletes believe that they can do anything. Coach Jones organizes team study halls after practice where she provides dinner and academic assistance to her student athletes. In order to provide her team the opportunity to try pole vault, she drove over 300 miles on her own dollar and time to pick up used pole vaulting equipment that was being given away.


What piece of advice does Coach Jones give an athlete having a bad day to inspire them?
We all have bad days. It happens but you have to get past it. On the trail you are responsible to and for your team from the second the gun goes off to the second you cross the line; your coaches are not with you. At the end of the day you can’t say that nobody passed you the ball, or that the captain called a bad play, or that the ref made a bad call. It is just you and your shoes and you either made it happen or you didn’t. You know if you did everything you could do today. If you did then fine but if you didn’t and are unhappy with your performance then don’t look for excuses, don’t hold on to it, just fix it. Run for you, run for your team, and make it happen at the next race.

What makes Coach Jones Run Happy?
These kids. They inspire me every single day.

We are a school for kids with learning disabilities and other personal issues that make finding success a little more difficult. They are all very bright but have experienced more than their share of failure, disappointment, and frustration both academically and socially. I love handing them a pair of shoes and watching them find personal success, often for the first time. To me they are "real winners", not necessarily because they win races but because they are able to see themselves as winners in different ways. They redefine "winning". It could be because they finished a race before their friends even got up out of bed, or because they set a goal to "not walk during the race today" and made it, or because they finally found a place to "belong". They stick up for each other and root for each other and really care about each other. That is better than any trophy.

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