By AJ Mazzolini
East Oregonian

HERMISTON — Long before Jocelyn Jones graduated from Clackamas High in 1974, she knew physical education was what she wanted to pursue professionally. Physical education classes captured her attention and imagination during high school.

Each day was about fun and staying active, always different from the ones before and after. How could she pass up that sort of career knowing it was out there, Jones thought.

But with girls’ basketball and volleyball cropping up in high schools around Oregon — some, like her own Clackamas, adding those to the steady diet of tennis and track — teaching P.E. would come with the extra duties of coaching these teams. She’d never played volleyball or basketball, but Jones decided she needed an early jump if she was going to have to instruct others on the game.
At Clackamas Community College and then later at Eastern Oregon College, she went out for the teams.

“I found that I really, really enjoy coaching,” she said. “Coaching is teaching.”

Today Jones, 56, credits Title IX for her career metamorphosis in education. An assistant principal at Hermiston High, Jones will take over as principal in the fall for the departing Buzz Brazeau.

Jones landed in Hermiston in 1991, and after teaching P.E. and coaching for 15 years in other small towns in Oregon, used the traits she picked up in athletics to move into administration work. She took on the department chair role first, then climbed up the ladder again to assistant principal.

“Being forced into coaching because of the field I chose, all that team building and leadership carried over,” Jones said. “I don’t know if I’d have ended up in this situation had I not been thrust into that arena.

“It gave me an opportunity to just flat out do something I wouldn’t have done. And I think that goes for a lot of young women.”

Jones counts herself lucky that her environment was shifting at the perfect time. She and her classmates went from being restricted to skirts and dresses as their school-day attire to having competitive sports options in the four years she attended high school.

The young women that she’s watched pass through the halls of Hermiston High everyday for the last 22 years rarely budget a moment’s thought to the rights and opportunities they are afforded. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing, Jones said. They live in a world where the genders are sliding closer and closer to equality.

“Girls today are exposed to that without even questioning it,” Jones said. “They’re exposed to the leadership skills, to build work ethic through teamwork, to provide a grounds to build all this confidence.”


Contact AJ Mazzolini at or 541-966-0839.


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