Mark Jones Named
Jamie M. Eubanks
JSU News Bureau
JACKSONVILLE -- July 25, 2001 -- High school football referees aren’t the most loved people in the sport. But Jacksonville State University’s Mark Jones recently received some recognition for being a high school football official. Jones, who serves as JSU’s director of recreation sports, was named the Alabama Official of the Year by the National Federation Official Association.
It was a next door neighbor in Guntersville who first introduced officiating to Jones. Hut Thomas was an official. And Jones, who had always been interested in sports, paid close attention to the way Thomas did his job.
When Jones came to college at JSU, he began calling softball games on the high school and college level. He then received a bachelor’s degree in physical education and sociology from JSU, and later completed the master’s program in physical education.
The next year, he was hired by JSU. “My job goes right along with my officiating,” says Jones.
And a lot of headaches come along with it, too. Jones is part of the East Alabama Officiating Association, which officiates for seven counties in east Alabama. Those counties include Calhoun, Talladega, Cherokee, Randolph, St. Clair and Cleburne Counties. As for Clay County, Jones had a special memory.
“I was able to officiate one Clay Bowl in my officiating career,” comments Jones. “It was like going to an Alabama/Auburn game.”
The Clay Bowl is an annual rivalry between Clay County High School and Lineville High School. As in any game, parents and spectators get hostile when a call doesn’t go their way, but all that is heightened during such a rivalry.
“We [officials] have to keep in mind that people are yelling at the shirt,” says Jones, “not the person in the shirt.”
He also says that by officiating in such circumstances, he was able to learn many life lessons, which have also become some of his favorite things about this job.
Jones has met other officials, coaches, players and fans from across the state. By meeting them he has been exposed to a wide variety of personalities.
“Officiating helps you deal with all kinds of things in everyday life -- things like staying calm, patience, and the ability to take someone yelling and it not worry you.”
Despite his love for the game and officiating, Jones was very surprised to receive such an award. “It’s outstanding to be recognized by your peers in this way.”
Aside from serving as director of recreation sports at JSU and officiating, Jones finds time to write a weekly sports column for The Anniston Star during football season. His column is called “Ask the Ref.” In it, he discusses some of the basic rules of football.
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