Jones is NL's 'Mr. Versatility'
Dick Jones has been a fixture for the Northern Lehigh sports programs over the years. Jones recently completed his 50th season as the timekeeper at Bulldog football games.
Richard "Dick" Jones has seen plenty of multi-sport student-athletes at Northern Lehigh get called "versatile."
But for the last half-century, Jones has been the real "Mr. Versatility" for the Bulldogs.
Jones' connection to the Northern Lehigh School District starts back in 1949 when he was just 16 years old. Jones worked for then Slatington High School in the summers while he was still a student in the building. He continued that summer employment through his college years at Kutztown University until he got a teaching job at the high school in 1956.
The next 57 years for Slatington/Northern Lehigh High School had his impression on it in some way.
The English teacher tried his hand at coaching, starting in 1963 as the boys' basketball junior varsity coach. He held that role until 1968 when he stepped in as head varsity coach. He remained in that position until 1971. During one of those seasons (1968-69) his team set a single-game scoring record that still stands today as they rung up 104 points against Salisbury.
After being a scout for Glenn Rissmiller, the Slatedale-resident took over the girls' varsity basketball program in 1976. As Jones put it, "I took it as a favor for the athletic director that was supposed to last one year, but it ended up being eight (years) with a championship."
That championship occurred in his final season when he guided the girls' program to a Centennial League title in 1983-1984. That title is still the only one ever won by a Northern Lehigh/Slatington high school girl's basketball team.
Besides basketball, the now 80-year old also served as an assistant track coach for 17 years. His 3200 yard relay teams went undefeated in 28 consecutive meets between the years of 1977-1979. That streak yielded two Centennial League championships.
Before retiring in 1986, the now golf and Sudoku fanatic was an assistant baseball coach for one season making it 39 seasons of coaching and 30 years of teaching for the district. As Jones puts it, "I was a good English teacher, but I probably could have been gooder!"
Jones also assumed the position as clock operator for Bulldog football games beginning in 1963. He worked every home game except for the 1979 season as he contracted a rare virus that summer which needed all of his attention. Despite that absence, Jones completed 50 years as the clock operator with the Catasauqua at Northern Lehigh game back on October 25.
"I love the game of football," Jones said as to why he kept going year after year. "I never played it. I'm just a fan. I've worked with the same fellas for most of the years and with the present group for a while now. I just look forward to every Friday that we are home. I get there as early as 6 p.m. to see who I can bump into. I just love the atmosphere."
Other than being Father Time of Bulldog Community Stadium on Friday nights, Jones enjoys knitting and watching television as his grandkids call him a "champion couch potato". Jones has also been married to his wife since New Year's Eve of 1955 with whom he has two children, Jennifer and Jeff.
Jones said it makes sense for him to step down as the clock operator after half a century of doing it, but he isn't quite sure that he will.
"I'm leaning towards coming back next year. I would just miss the guys too much."
The coach, teacher, scout, husband, father, golfer, and television enthusiast did it all. So why not come back? He is Northern Lehigh's "Mr. Versatility" after all.