GEOFF Jones will be remembered as a fantastic coach and a man who led by his actions.
As former national athlete Theresa Stolberg (nee Martin) said after his recent passing: “It was a sad day for athletics, especially Ipswich athletics”.
Stolberg, the current coaching officer of Ipswich Little Athletics, was coached by Geoff from age 11 into her mid-20s. She remained a close family friend.
“If I become half the coach he was, then I would be happy,” Stolberg said.
Another elite Ipswich athlete of that era agreed.
“Mr Jones was the reason I loved running and the reason I was good at it,” former sprinter Kerri Michel (nee Kinnane) said.
“He introduced me to track and field, and to the day, he is still Mr Jones. That is the respect he deserved.
“He taught me how to run.
“He also taught me, and this is probably more important, how to enjoy training and that you need to work very hard to achieve your goals.
“If you don’t put in the work don’t expect the rewards.
“He was a very quiet, humble man and you just wanted to give everything you had so he would be proud of you.
“I will miss seeing him running around the streets of Ipswich.”
Born on September 5, 1941 in the Cairns area, Geoff passed away on March 30 in Ipswich.
He was 71.
Geoff married a Dalby girl, Berise, in 1961 and moved to Ipswich in 1963, before taking up a surveying position in Papua New Guinea.
Geoff moved backed to Ipswich in 1967 and lived in the area until his passing.
He worked as a surveyor in the Ipswich City Council from 1971 until 2003, when he retired.
Geoff has three children ― Craig, Carrie and Nicole.
He started coaching in 1971 at the Ipswich Grammar School and became head coach at the Ipswich & District Athletic Club Inc. in 1978 when the club was established. He took over from Ipswich icon Bill Paterson.
Geoff also coached at the Ipswich Girls’ Grammar School from the late 70s with the school winning the QGSSS title in 1992.
Geoff became Ipswich Little Athletics co-ordinator (1980/81) and was a coach for several years for that club.
Widely respected as “Mr Jones” by his athletes, he was always looked up to as a mentor and motivator.
He changed people’s lives by showing them how to live, not just talking about it.
One of Geoff’s traits at a training session was to throw pieces of dry grass into the air and let the wind blow through them to determine which way they should run.
He was part of fun trips to the Country Championships, taking athletes to the Australian Institute of Sport and to national titles.
He helped athletes like Stolberg (nee Martin), Michel (nee Kinnane) and Brett Barram compete internationally between 1992 and 1996. Kinnane contested the 1998 world junior championships in Canada.
Geoff became president of the Ipswich & District Athletic Club in 1986 and 1987 and then became the first Life member of the club in 1993.
He coached with the club for more than 25 years.
Besides a loving family, Geoff found time to compete at squash and became an A grade player for Ipswich.
He played in Brisbane fixtures and still impressed on the court in his sixties becoming the Queensland Masters state champion.
Geoff’s funeral is today at 10am at Centenary Memorial Gardens, Sumner.