High schools: Jones had huge impact at Canajoharie
The job description of an athletic director covers a multitude of responsibilities and duties. The smaller the school, the bigger the load for the AD, who is responsible for everything from scheduling games to making sure the athletic facilities are up to par on a daily basis.
Todd Jones is all too familiar with the trappings of the job.
“You have to wear a lot of hats in a small school,” said Jones, a Scotia-Glenville graduate who recently retired after 37 years in the Canajoharie school district, the last 18 as athletic director. “That’s just the way it is.
“It’s the type of job where there is always something that needs to be done, and most people have no idea of what we do.”
In addition to the usual AD responsibilities of putting together game schedules, securing officials and referees and hiring coaches, Jones was an integral part of several significant changes that impacted athletes in both his school district and neighboring Fort Plain.
Jones was one of the guiding forces when Canajoharie and Fort Plain merged their wrestling teams. That merger, which began in the 1997-98 school year, saved both programs, and served as a template for other multi-school sports.
“Both programs were struggling for kids,” Jones recalled. “It was just the right time to do it.”
The Tri-Valley League next-door neighbors had natural rivalries, which soon dissolved under the example of the coaching staff of Jones and Fort Plain coaches Kim Lathers and Todd Failing.
“It was important to have someone from both districts involved to move it along,” said Jones, who is also stepping down as varsity wrestling head coach. “It worked out great, and I think a lot of that was because the coaches all worked so well together.”
That change had barely taken when the TVL merged with the Schoharie County League to form the Western Athletic Conference in 2001.
“There were some bumps in the road at first, but it was something that had to happen, and overall, it’s been good for all the schools,” Jones said. “It’s a healthy league.”
Jones also had a hand in part of the planning process when the current Canajoharie High School was built, opening in 2002.
“I was involved with the athletic fields placement and construction,” Jones said. “It’s really a continuing thing. Once you start thinking everything is all set, you have to make adjustments and improvements.”
Jones got his start in the education field in his final semester of college, and came to Canajoharie the following year.
“I knew at the beginning of this past school year that this was going to be my last year,” Jones said. “A lot of it had to do with my wife, Louise, who had retired from her school district the previous June. She made retirement look so good that I knew that it was time.”
Like a lot of coaches, Jones had some reservations about saying goodbye to his athletes, who earned state recognition for their 92.21 classroom average during the winter season.
“It was the first time I’ve had a wrestling team win that award,” said Jones. “We had an outstanding group of athletes this year that were both gifted on the mat and in the classroom.”
Jones, who was honored a few years ago when the school’s wrestling room was named after him, was one of three outgoing wrestling coaches in the area to receive special recognition this spring.
“One of the highlights was this past spring, when me, [Amsterdam’s] Kenny Benton and [Duanesburg coach] Joe Bena were recognized on the floor of the state senate,” said Jones.
“I’ve had a chance to meet some great people at the Section II and state level. I’ve been fortunate in that respect.”