Johnson City Press Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Follow me on:


Sports High schools

Man of all seasons

August 1st, 2014 11:18 pm by Jeff Birchfield

Man of all seasons

Jerry Jenkins is entering his 44th year of coaching this fall.

Notice it’s year and not season. That’s because Jenkins is estimated to have coached over 100 different seasons when you factor in all the sports he’s been involved with.

He’s still a year-round assistant coach at Daniel Boone High School. You can find him as defensive coordinator for the football team in the fall, a basketball assistant in the winter and on the baseball diamond in the spring.

To put things into perspective, Jenkins has actually coached more seasons at Daniel Boone than legendary coaches Bobby Snyder and Ken Green.

While he’s instructed literally thousands of athletes, he remains as passionate about the different games and players as the day he started.

“It gets in your blood and it’s a challenge,” he said. “The older you get, the more you mature and you want to help them more as individuals. When you first start out, you’re like, ‘Win, win, win, win.’ But it’s common sense you’re not going to win all the time. You can win without winning a game. You try to teach them lessons about life. When you see them in later years and they go out of their way to come and speak to you, that makes it all worth it.”

While most of his career has been at Boone, he spent three years as an assistant football coach to Tommy Hundley at Science Hill and four years as the head football coach at David Crockett.

For the last 11 years, however, he has often worked alongside son Jeremy, the head football coach at Daniel Boone. They’ve also been together as assistants coaches on the girls’ basketball team and the son has seen the positive influence he’s had on so many players. 

“My dad has coached boys and girls, different sports at different levels and he has touched a lot of people in this community,” Jeremy Jenkins said. “He does a great job of preparing the kids and he’s a great motivator who gets a lot out of people.”

One thing Jerry Jenkins is even more passionate about than sports is his faith. He spends an estimated three hours a day reading The Bible, which he said he has read through 114 times. He has a particular fondness for the Book of Psalms and the first four gospels.

It should come as no surprise that another son, Jody, is the pastor at Buffalo Ridge Baptist Church. The father sees a lot of similarities in both of his each boys’ chosen professions.

“In coaching, it’s like preaching that you’re not going to make everyone happy all the time,” he said. “Things are going to happen, but you try to treat the kids all alike and treat them like they’re somebody.”

That being said, experience has taught him that no two individuals are exactly the same. Some players have to be constantly motivated, while a simple correction is all it takes for others. 

Daniel Boone athletic director Danny Good said Jenkins has the “it factor” that coaches desire to have. The kids see his passion and in return, they respond by working hard to get better.

Asked about some of his most memorable wins as a coach, Jenkins said there are too many to recall. His proudest moment was actually a loss, a time when he was still the head football coach at Crockett and his team nearly pulled off a monumental upset.

“It was back when (coach) Craig Kisbeth and Jefferson County was the powerhouse, not only in the state, but in the nation,” he recalled. “They came in ranked No. 1 and they had four kids who went on and played pro ball. We had them down and they beat us on a last-second play. I remember that game (a 14-8 loss) probably more than all of them.”

Of all the sports, baseball has the most sentimental value. It was his father’s favorite sport and one which Jenkins excelled at it. He was the leading hitter for Science Hill his senior season and he went on to play at Milligan College. However, an injury derailed plans of a professional career.

“A Baltimore scout was following me when I was in high school, but I separated my shoulder,” he recalled. “My last year at Milligan, my only role was a pinch hitter because I couldn’t throw. The DH didn’t come in until the year after I graduated.”

It’s one of those life lessons he tries to teach to his players. He wants them to know that life’s tough and there are going to be a lot of knock downs. 

He added that athletes often learn more from losing than they do from winning. Although he’s been a part of several successful teams like a decade ago when Boone battled Tennessee High for the top girls’ basketball program in the Big Nine Conference, he isn’t one to boast about the wins. 

“You could sum him up in that he’s a humble person,” Jeremy Jenkins said. “He’s had a lot of success, but he never gets out there too far. You’re never bigger than the game and he always keeps the Good Lord first. I’m really blessed to have grown up in his household.”

When Good played for Boone in high school, Jenkins was actually the head coach at Crockett. Still, Good would stop by his house to talk to him. He also recalled playing wiffle ball against the Jenkins’ boys and Jerry would often be the umpire.

“I’ve known these guys my whole life and they’re a special family,” Good said. “They are involved in the community and they symbolize what we stand for at Daniel Boone High School.”

comments powered by Disqus