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He can't leave it behind

Former Black Watch coaching director Kelvin Jones will coach Plant's boys next season.

By EMILY NIPPS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 7, 2002

TAMPA -- Kelvin Jones' coaching philosophy has always been the same: To instill a passion for soccer that lasts well after players have stopped playing.

So even after retiring as the coaching director of Black Watch soccer club last week, Jones couldn't give up his own passion.

Jones, a former Chamberlain coach, was named Plant's boys soccer coach during the last week of May, and now he hopes to carry out his mission statement.

"I just want to make sure that my players look back on their high school soccer days as the greatest experience of their lives," Jones said. "That's it."

A South African who became a naturalized U.S. citizen in April 2001, Jones came to the U.S. to play soccer for the University of South Florida from 1981 to 1984.

After he graduated, the North American Soccer League folded along with Jones' dreams of playing professionally.

Jones began his coaching career at Chamberlain in 1990, and led the Chiefs to the Class 4A state final in 1992 before losing 5-4 to Miami Killian on the ninth penalty kick. Three years later, he left to join Black Watch, where he coached two 19-and-under teams to State Cup titles.

Wanting to spend more time with his wife, two daughters and another baby on the way, Jones left Black Watch to work for AT&T's networking department. He applied for the job at Plant after former coach Dennis Derflinger left to coach at Freedom.

Athletic director Laura Figueredo said Jones came highly recommended by Plant players who knew him from Black Watch.

"He sent me his resume and I was very impressed," Figueredo said. "Soccer is very hard for people who don't know much about the sport to watch and understand. I could tell just from talking to him that he just lives and breathes soccer.

"I think it's going to be a great fit here, for the kids and the coaches and the parents alike."

Jones said he's eager to meet the team, although he knows many of the players through club programs.

"It's going to be a lot of fun," Jones said. "I have great memories of coaching high school soccer."

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