Conversation with a Legend


Conversation with a Legend

Posted by Kevin Doak on Tuesday at: 9:32pm (January 13th, 2009)
I see coach Mike Jones a few times a week working out at the Rec/IM building. Occasionally we have a nice exchange on the pool deck while passing. Today I had a chance to talk to him for a few minutes. I consider Coach Mike Jones a local legend in the swimming world. Coach Jones was the EMU Mens Swimming Coach from 1968 till 1988. I've always looked up to Coach Jones and I'm always conscious to show him the utmost respect. He built Easterns team from nothing and singlehandedly created a dominant force in the Mid American Conference. Coach Jones still works out daily at the recreation center he helped plan over 25 years ago. I think it's amazing that he stays active and cares about his health. He is an inspiration to me and many other Eastern Michigan swimmers. When Eastern Michigan built the Natatorium I swim in every day, they consulted with Coach Jones during the design process. The University named it the Michael H. Jones Natatorium shortly after it opened in 1982. The pool itself happens to be my favorite to both train in and to compete in. It makes the facility even more special to me to know the Legend that they named it after.

Today Coach Jones discussed the current EMU team, the changes over the years regarding recruiting and the joint competition involving the mens and womens team. He asked me if I had swum this past weekend in the masters meet on Sunday. I mentioned I had, but was a little rusty from taking time off. I commented on how I had made progress on becoming a butterflier. He had always known me as a backstroker so I could tell he was interested when I mentioned it. I told him I swam a 49.9 last month and a this past weekend a 50.6. He smiled and shook his head while saying "that's impressive Doak".

We talked a little about the meet competition itself. He brought up one of his former swimmers "Chuck Coffman" whose name I immediately recognized. I've swam against Chuck many times over the past 4 years in Masters. Chuck is a very good butterflier (among other events). He competes in the 45-49 age group and pushes me in the Masters competitions. Coach Jones inquired on what his 100 Fly time was this past weekend. He was impressed to hear that Chuck swam a 57 second 100 Fly. He explained that Chuck was always a very disciplined swimmer and it didn't surprise him that he's still active and successful in the pool.

Overall it was a very nice exchange. I like that I can still call him "Coach" even though he was never my actual coach. I feel as though he enjoys that people still recognize and respect him. I remember the upperclassmen at EMU wasting no time explaining who he was and that I should always respect him. I like that the stories of his vast success have been passed down through the ranks more than 20 years after he retired from coaching. Coach Jones should be proud of what he has created at EMU. I'm just as proud to know him.

After our conversation was over, I was walking away and he said: "Doak, I really admire what you're doing". I smiled all the way home.