PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) – Arnold new head baseball coach Chris Jones traveled 2,157 miles to see the place he could now call home.
Jones coached the last 13 years at Elsinore High School in California, but decided it was time for a change.
He officially accepted the job on May 19th, but wasn’t able to come visit until now and the wait was worth it.
“Very impressed with the area, it’s a beautiful school, the field’s beautiful, it did look like the pictures. One thing I didn’t foresee is the rain coming with me,” Jones said.
Jones has had a lot of experience coaching baseball and at almost every level.
At Elsinore, eight of his baseball teams reached the playoffs and four got to the final four.
Outside of his impressive record over the years, he’s coached more than 60 players who have signed professional contract and seven of them played in the MLB.
Arnold Athletic Director Rick Green couldn’t believe they got him to come there.
“Yeah it’s about winning, okay, but it’s about helping these baseball players win at life too. Not every great baseball player who plays at the next level played on high school teams that won state championships,” Green said.
Jones said he thinks he came at the right time.
“It’s a strange time for all of us, every baseball program around here is gonna have the same type of restrictions even though their coach might live right down the street from the, they still can’t really play catch. So we’re all going to have to play by the same rules,” Jones said. “In my entire lifetime, this might be the best time to have a month away from the team where you are just starting because of what is actually able to go on during this time.”
Jones met with the team Wednesday afternoon on the field. He said he plans on checking in with them while he prepares to move to Panama City Beach.
“First impression is important but four years from now, I still want it to be the place to go. I don’t want it to just be ‘well they have a new guy, let’s try out at Arnold.’ Well, the fifth graders that think they might want to play baseball I want those guys,” Jones said. “I want to try and establish something that will be there every year as a solid outlet for kids to get better at the game.”