Monday, November 22, 2010
A Beaming Light-Celebrating Coach Henry Jones
As we get older, we gain the ability to reflect on our childhood and those aha moments that shaped us and the people that have had a lasting impact on us.
I recently wrote in my journal, “This journey has made me see Panama in a different light, love everything about being from Colon, celebrate being a product of Rainbow City, know with purpose that my Black is Beautiful and has deepened my Love for those I call Friends.”
It has also deepened my love for those I call mentors and teachers.
Many say, once an athlete always an athlete. The discipline, teamwork, focus that you develop will carry you through life. What I learned from Coach Jones has stayed with me off the track.
With my young women, I always highlight the talent I see in them and hope that they hold it close through good and bad times.
Coach saw me run at the age of 10 and saw something I did not know I had. He worked hard with so many of us. My parents trusted him and allowed me to gain more than good track skills from this amazing man.Coach was an Olympian, teacher, mentor father and confidant to many.
On my recent birthday, I heard that Coach was in the US with his children. I was so excited and on the spot decided I would give myself the gift of going and sitting with him and saying Thank you. I have seen him throughout the years but I was not able to sit and have a long conversation. I was always overcome with tears.
I wanted to ask him so many questions. I wanted to understand why he meant so much to me and to so many others.
I got to see Panama with him as a member of the Colon track team. I learned to push pass class differences with my teammates who are still today some of my closest friends. My love for running comes from this time period of being trained by him.
When I arrived to visit him I was overwhelmed with love for this man. I laughed with him, cried, held his hand, read to him and got to know him all over again on a deeper level.
One of my friends and teammates gave me a joke to share with him. As I told him I saw his face light up. I had shared my plans with others and many took the time to send him a message. They were many wonderful stories, jokes yet I will only share a few.
-He was always about simply doing your best.
-He really helped me…Please tell him, he is often thought about and some things he said to me, I’m passing to my son and daughter.
-Coach Jones was the best track coach ever at Cristobal.!! Striving for excellence with every stride, regardless of the outcome. He was always an encouraging Coach.
-Please tell Coach Jones hello. He taught me a lot about life. He is the man!!!
-Please give him my best and remind him of all those he had a great impact on.
He was moved by the messages and his face was filled with such pride. I was able to read some of my work to him. I would ask him if he was tired and he said he wanted to hear more. I asked about the challenges he faced at home during segregation and what he did to overcome them. One of the things he did was to keep studying. I found out that coach received his Masters in Education from NYU.
The more he shared, the more I realized that this man shaped many of my views on life,moving pass class differences and pride.
On the last day of my visit I woke up early and wrote this to him.
A Beaming Light
Faster than a speeding bullet,
Charming and Gracious as an African King.
Believe in self was part of your DNA.
You walked with pride that was passed on to each
and every one of us.
Doing your best was your song,
Being our best was our chorus,
I am you Coach Jones
because I am disciplined.
An Olympian, a star in our eyes,
Education was your key to success.
You were more than just a man who showed
us to pick up our legs and move our hands.
Father to many, Mentor to all.
I am you Coach Jones
because I am strong.
Preaching Unity from your starting block pulpit,
we were all Colonenses, Beep Beep Colon!!!
We hold your love for running as we find clarity and peace
on a long run through the streets.
I am you Coach Jones because I see love
and give love.
Many ask, who taught you this, I say, this beaming light
on the track field.
Then they ask, what did he say and I share a line that
I will forever hold, “not to worry about them, let them
worry about us."
I see you in me, running past the given line standing
straight and tall.
This is not an accident. I was "saved" in you hands.
Thank you Dario and Kimaura for sharing him with us.
I am you Coach Jones because I am family.
The sun rises and sets on my love for you.
You gave me long life friendships that allows me to sit and
laugh about the cow milk in Coclé, the bunk beds in Bocas,
and the loud music on the bus after another victory.
I am you Coach Jones because you are you,
The runner, the coach, the mentor, the star, the king,
The light that I will always be reaching for.
When I finished reading it, I asked what I should name the piece. I then looked up and saw the light in his eyes and the name came to me, A Beaming Light. I now speak to him weekly and get to share my life as an adult with him.
So today, I ask you all to stand and shout out, Happy 80th Birthday Coach Jones. Thank you, thank you thank you for having a lasting impact on who I am as a woman, a friend and an activist. May the ancestors continue to fill your life with joy and surround you with love.