Whitney Jones assumed the helm of the Varsity Softball team in October, and in her first season has led the girls to Garfield history. The 2017 Varsity Softball team is now on the Garfield Wall of Fame for its first-ever State competition. Coach Jones also ended the season with a Coach of the Year Award, which she shares with Cleveland’s Softball coach, Megan Claus, after two successive ties in the ballot count.
Coach Jones spent her childhood in Upland, CA, playing softball and eventually earning a scholarship to play for Heather Tarr at the University of Washington. In her junior year, Jones was a starter for UW at the Women’s College World Series. They placed third in the nation that year. Coach Tarr continues to be an inspiration for Jones, and Tarr even came out to watch a Garfield game this season.
In addition to an impressive college softball career, Jones finished her studies at UW with a double major in sociology and communications. On the heels of this success, she accepted a second softball scholarship to the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma. While there, she earned a Masters degree in Education, and became a certified strength coach. At Tulsa, Jones coached in the weight room, and got her first exposure to training athletes in other sports. She broadened her understanding of athletics by training members of the soccer, football, softball, baseball, and tennis teams.
Jones wants more girls in the community to play softball. She wants to build a softball program at Garfield where girls work hard, have fun, and hopefully, earn college scholarships like she did. Being a great coach is important to her, and part of that is caring about the girls’ futures, too.
Skill development, practice, and strength training are keys to building a great team, but it doesn’t stop there for her. She’s a student of sports psychology, and also loves to read about coaching philosophy. Jones draws particular inspiration from Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable, by Tim S. Grover. She has some guiding principles, which she calls “core covenants,” that she uses to motivate her team throughout the season. “Relentless” is one of her core covenants. “If I’m all in, you need to be all in, too,” she says.
At the end-of-season banquet, Coach Jones spoke about the team ethos. “We went as far as we did this year because we were a family. As much as that may sound like a cliché, it’s true. We never turned on each other when things got hard.”
With a lot of young players on the team, Coach Jones thinks the softball team has the potential to win the state title in a couple of years. How do they do that? She says the team must always focus within, and continue to be relentless in pursuit of their best game. That means they don’t focus on the other team. She says a generous dose of team spirit, or what she calls “Bulldog Fever,” is the other key. Go Bulldogs! – Thanks to Kris Morada for this story
Read more about Coach Jones in The Seattle Times here: