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TMP has new soccer coach

8/3/2014

By AUSTIN COLBERT

By AUSTIN COLBERT

acolbert@dailynews.net

Thomas More Prep-Marian High School Athletic Director Gene Flax reached out to Brett Parker, the men's soccer coach at Fort Hays State University, for help in finding a new boys' soccer coach for the upcoming season.

Parker suggested Flax talk to Chris Jones, who will be in his second season as an assistant coach for the FHSU women's soccer team this fall, and it didn't take long before Flax decided to turn the reins of the program over to the 25-year-old FHSU graduate student.

"To be honest, I didn't really know there was a vacancy open," Jones said. "I mentioned that I had actually went to a catholic high school, so he was pretty impressed with that. So I kind of know the rules with it being a private school and all. And he basically offered me the job the same day after the interview."

Jones is a native of Tulsa, Okla., where he attended Bishop Kelley High School. He went on to play soccer collegiately at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Okla., before graduating in spring 2013 from the University of Oklahoma in Norman. While at OU, Jones served as the head coach and president of the men's club soccer team.

Previous accolades include being part of the Tulsa Nationals Club Soccer team from 2000-2007.

Jones then found his way to Hays after being offered an assistant coaching position at FHSU.

"I always dreamt about getting my master's and this gave me the perfect opportunity to do that. Really what brought me to Hays was a job opportunity and coach (Craig) Shaw gave me that opportunity and I'm trying to make the most of it," Jones said.

Jones will continue in his role as the FHSU women's soccer assistant despite his new responsibilities as the boys' soccer coach at TMP, which begins practice Aug. 18. He said there wouldn't be much conflict, as TMP practices right after school and FHSU doesn't practice until 7 p.m. However, Jones might miss a TMP game or two while FHSU is on the road, and will leave the team in the hands of two experienced assistants.

Shawn Lawson, the head TMP boys' coach the past five seasons, will remain on staff as an assistant despite deciding to step down from the head coaching position. The other assistant coach will be Darryl Wellbrock, the current TMP girls' coach, who also spent four years as the TMP boys' coach.

This will be the 10th year of TMP soccer, and Wellbrock, Lawson and now Jones are the only coaches in the program's history.

"I consider myself a coach that wants to get to know the players on a deeper level than just the soccer field, and they can help me out as far as connecting that relationship," Jones said of his assistant coaches.

"Eventually I want my career to take me to the highest level possible, to hopefully one day be a head college coach somewhere. So this head coaching job at TMP is definitely a good indication of what I can do as a coach. Hopefully I can take teams to new heights. I know they were successful a couple of years ago and I want to kind of get back on track with that."

Jones also interviewed for the Hays High School soccer coach opening, but said he was passed up because of scheduling conflicts with FHSU.