Story By: Karlee Anderson
Photography By: Shelia Scott
Coach Hamp Jones is a beloved coach for the Pooler Recreation Department. He has coached there for three years, and he finds being able to teach kids about basketball to be a very rewarding job. He loves “seeing the kids’ development from day one to the end of the season.” That’s what coaching is all about for him. “I just want the kids to be happy…to have fun. It’s all about the kids,” Coach Jones says. He does this by making sure his own focus is in the right place as a coach and in turn, teaches the kids where to fix their focus. He says, “My biggest [thing] is just making sure everybody gets developing and learning the game of basketball.”
“A lot of times you want to win all the time, but it’s not about winning. It’s all about the development,” Coach Jones explains, “basically just learning the game. You can be the most confident person in the world, but if you don’t know the game you can be unsuccessful.” He learned these truths from his own time as a player. His knowledge and talent for the game of basketball took him from playing as a child and teen to playing at the collegiate level and on to an overseas league. His skill for coaching first developed while he coached for a girls’ high school team and a boys’ middle school team in the past.
Playing at the collegiate level at Georgia Southern University, Coach Jones was inspired by his own coach and learned goals that he applies with each opportunity he has had to coach. “My college coach was one of the most influential guys in my playing days,” Coach Jones shares. “He was more [about] learn[ing] the game the right way than being the best athlete in the world.” That wise philosophy is one that Coach Jones tries to pass on to his players. “I think effort is a talent,” he says. “If you’re putting forth 100 percent effort, you’ve got a chance of winning at any game. That’s one of the things I try to teach the kids as well.” However, hard work and lots of effort are not necessarily things that need to be dreaded. He finds a way to make learning and working enjoyable.
Constant drills, harsh words, and unhappy kids are not things that you will find at one of Coach Jones’s practices. He is all about the smiles, laughs, and joyful faces that come with learning. The most effective way to get kids to develop is allowing them to have fun as they learn. “I do a lot of fun games, a lot of developmental games for the kids.” Often coaches get so caught up in wanting to win that they forget to pass on the love of the game to the children that they are teaching. Kids are little sponges soaking up what you teach them, and truly successful athletes are those that love what they do. Coach Jones is fully aware of the importance of passing on the love for the game through passing on the fun. “Winning is good. We win a lot of games, but as long as the kids are happy playing and they like to play [that’s what matters most.]”
With Coach Hamp Jones as the leader, a Pooler parent can be confident about their child’s basketball learning and loving experience. He will ensure that the kids know the game well, understand that effort is a must, and have a fantastic time while developing their skills. Coach Jones has a coaching philosophy that others in his field would benefit from borrowing.