Jenkins resigns as EHS head football coach

By Tim Chambers
STAR STAFF
tchambers@starhq.com

   Being the parent of a high school athlete, it was important that my child play on a team where the coach served as a role model, was well respected and taught kids not only the game, but also lessons that would help them later on in life.
   For Elizabethton High School football fans, no one has filled that role any better than Cyclone head football coach Tommy Jenkins.
   Jenkins has been a role model to every player who has donned a Cyclone football uniform along with serving as an inspiration to everyone associated with him. Jenkins made the announcement Monday morning at Elizabethton High School that he was stepping down as Cyclone head football coach because of health reasons.
   "Football is a job that you got to give 100 percent and I have not been able to do that lately," stated Jenkins. "I have lost 40 pounds over the last six months going through the chemotherapy treatments, so my energy level is not what it was."
   Jenkins has given 20-plus years to the Cyclone football program, starting as an assistant in 1981.
   "I had no problem being an assistant, he added. "I loved coaching with Coach (Dave) Rider and had even hoped that one day we would retire together."
   "I thought of my daughter (Julia Anna) who means the world to me, and my mother, whom I love dearly, and felt it was best not only for me but for the football program as well to step down as head coach at the present.
   "I don't plan on leaving football totally and hope to keep my foot in the door. I have asked to coach the freshman team and do some video work for the players," added Jenkins. "The way colleges request film on players these days, you've got to be able to provide it."
   Jenkins added: "No one could have given me anymore support than our principal, Mr. (Ed) Alexander, and athletic director, Coach (Larry) Alderson. "They have been remarkable during my tenure as head coach."
   "We've got great assistant coaches on our staff and I feel that any of them could be successful as a head coach," added Jenkins. "Most of them have served in that capacity at sometime or other."
   "I learned so much about coaching as an assistant. Coach Rider is one of the greatest men you could ever work for. I want to thank my assistant coaches for the extra duties they took on over the past year. Lining off the fields, mowing, cleaning the field house, things you don't associate being a head coach with, they stepped in and went far beyond the call of duty.
   Jenkins was sincere when he spoke of his coaches, former players and co-workers.
   "I just want to thank everyone that is a part of Cyclone football for giving me the opportunity to coach the orange and black."
   Eddie Pless will serve as interim head coach until a successor can be named, said Elizabethton athletic director Larry Alderson.
   "He will conduct our spring football practice along with the other assistants," Alderson said.
   No announcements have been made about a successor, but Alderson indicated that they would move ahead to name a new coach.
   "It would be premature to speculate anything at this time," Alderson said.
   Jenkins faces numerous obstacles but refuses to give up. Quit is not in his vocabulary, nor is it in his teaching or coaching methods.
   Coach Jenkins was and still is a role model who kids can look up to and parents can feel good about their child being around at Elizabethon High School. He will always be known as coach. He will be an icon among the Cyclone faithful.
   Jenkins is the true example of what a team player is all about -- putting 'Betsy football first. Tommy Jenkins, once a Cyclone, always a Cyclone.