As a large senior class from the Eunice girls’ basketball team heads out the door this summer, its head coach is leaving with it.
Coach Jimmie Jones, who had served as head coach of the program for the past six years, announced Tuesday that he officially resigned from his position over Memorial Day weekend. The longtime member of law enforcement is running for Eunice magistrate judge, and in an effort to make sure the program doesn’t skip a beat with its training this summer, Jones decided it would be best if he stepped down while hoping to move forward with his campaign.
“Ultimately, my intentions are to win this election,” he said. “With spring and summer basketball already underway in most communities, I didn’t want the campaign or this election to hinder next year’s basketball team here in Eunice. Rather than sit back and wait on the results, I figured it would be better to go ahead and make the move now.”
Jones says he told the Eunice administration of his plans unofficially weeks ago, but finally gave official notice so it could move forward with hiring his replacement. Athletic director Robbie Robinson says no progress has been made with a new hiring since the school couldn’t do so until Jones officially resigned.
With his resignation, Jones is leaving behind a significant era of sorts. After coaching at the middle school level with Hobbs, Jones moved up to take over a head coach vacancy in 2012 at Eunice. Since taking the helm, the Lady Cardinals posted a 128-43 record while winning the district thrice, and also advancing to the Class 3A state tournament quarterfinal – at the least – five times. Twice the Eunice advanced to the final four, was even the runner-up from the championship game in 2017, and Jones won three district coach of the year awards.
Reflecting on all that he was able to accomplish with a group of kids he’s bullish on, Jones says he’ll definitely miss being a coach.
“I went out and cleaned out my office (Monday), and I ran into old pictures, scorebooks and things like that. It’s tough,” he said. “It’s definitely not an easy thing to walk away from. I’ve developed a relationship with numerous kids, parents, the community, other coaches and referees, and to a lot of people everywhere I go – even though I’ve been the (Eunice chief of police) – everywhere I go its, ‘Hey, Coach.’ … That’s what they call me when they see me, and so not being a coach is going to be an interesting pill to swallow for me.”
Jones says one of the main things he’ll miss about coaching the girls is being able to teach them life lessons. He feels it’s actually the best part.
“Coaching, to me, has been extremely rewarding,” Jones said. “I just hope that I’ve given kids and the community through the years half of what they’ve given to me. The reward of seeing kids get out there and compete, and learn life lessons through sports, has just been phenomenal.”
Some of Jones’ most success came with recent graduates Harria Mendoza, Xitlaly Ontiveros, Aide Frazier, and his daughter Jada Jones. The former head coach has gone on record many times saying all that group has known is team success, and that’s a credit to the hard work the sum has put in together.
Jones said on Tuesday that this senior class, as well as his players from his time in Hobbs, perhaps made him look better at coaching than he actually was because the players exemplified so much talent, passion and effort under his leadership. When asked if resigning at the same time as those seniors carries any sort of significance, he quickly replied, “Absolutely.”
“This group that graduated this year, whether it be in Hobbs or (Eunice), those are the kids that I kind of grew up coaching the game with,” he said. “(They’re) kids I started coaching in some form or fashion when they were in kindergarten or first grade over at the Hobbs Boys and Girls Club. As I moved up through the years, they did too. That group will have a special place forever for me. It’s been fun, it’s been exciting, it’s been a great ride with that group of kids. But at the same time, it’s sad to think that that period of my life is sort of wrapping up.”
While Jones is leaving as coach, he says he’ll still be close to Eunice girls’ basketball as a fan. He hopes to be involved with the program in any way he can be, and actually has another daughter coming up to the high school level in a few years.
An era is over, though, and that is a bit of a thorn in Jones’ side. But that doesn’t take anything away from a very successful tenure, one of which Jones simply called a lot of fun.