Alma girls basketball assistant Paige Jones named Mountainburg coach in waiting
Alma girls basketball assistant Paige Jones is returning to the head coaching ranks.
Jones is set to coach at Mountainburg after coaching at Van Buren and Alma. She takes over the junior high girls' basketball program this year and the high school girls varsity program starting with the 2022-23 season.
Current girls' basketball coach Zach Dean will become the school's football coach in 2022, replacing Tom Harrell. Dean will relinquish his girls basketball duties at that time.
The 2022-23 season will mark Jones' first year as a high school varsity girls basketball coach, but has coached at the junior high and been an assistant at the high school level.
In addition to coaching the junior high program, she will be an assistant coach alongside Dean, her brother, next season for the senior high.
The Lady Dragons (10-12) finished third in 2A-4 Conference and wrapped up their season in the first round of the regional tournament.
"It will definitely be interesting," Dean said. "She will be a great addition to our staff and basketball program. I'm looking forward to utilizing her 20-plus years of experience."
"I wanted to be a head coach again and there was an opportunity," Jones said. "I feel like I'm ready to get back to being a head coach. I've learned a lot working with Madelyn (Flenor) and Codey (Mann)."
At the high school varsity level, Jones was previously the softball coach at Van Buren and recently the tennis coach at Alma.
Dean will also be the athletic director for Mountainburg, making him Jones' boss.
"That's definitely going to be different," Jones said. "I have a lot of history in Mountainburg. My mom was from Mountainburg and my grandparents still live there. I'm looking forward to coaching along with Zach, that will be a first for the both of us."
"I am definitely excited about being the one getting the final say," Dean added. "Finally! It's only taken about 42 years."
While Dean will spend the fall working with the junior high football team, Jones will run the practices for the junior high girls program. Jones said it would help her prepare to fully run girls basketball team. Jones also said she's looking forward to coaching her daughter throughout the junior high and high school ranks.
Jones, an Alma graduate, spent the past 17 years teaching in the 17 within the Alma School District. She was recently the assistant girls' basketball coach. Previously, she coached the freshman girls' basketball team. Jones also has coached basketball, volleyball and softball at Van Buren.
She is married to Darren Jones, the boys basketball coach at the Van Buren Freshman Academy.