CANAJOHARIE - For 37 years, Todd Jones has served as a teacher, coach and administrator in the Canajoharie Central School District.
Earlier this year, Jones announced his retirement at the end of the school year.
"With all the changes that have occurred, with the change over in administration, the new Common Core and APPR [Annual Professional Performance Review], all happening at once, I kind of knew at that point that I would be leaving soon," Jones said. "I was eligible. My wife, Louise, and I were both eligible and she actually retired last June. But I wanted to stick around for one more year."
What kept Jones around? The wrestling team he had dedicated 37 years to as a coach.
"I wanted to coach my wrestling team one more year," he said. "The last two years I have probably had some of the most wonderful kids that I have had the privilege to coach and be with. I just wanted to be with those kids for one more year. That was pretty much the reason I didn't go last year and stayed on. There were a couple more things in there, like I wanted to make sure some things were in place. But I knew with all the changes that were occurring, it was definitely time."
His 37 years of coaching the wrestling team and more than 300 wins were recognized recently as Jones along with local coaches Joe Bena (Duanesburg) and Kenny Benton (Amsterdam), were honored on the floor of New York State Senate and presented Senate resolutions by state Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk, D-Duanesburg.
"It was a nice way to end my career being honored with Coaches Benton and Bena by Senator Tkaczyk. It was very moving," Jones said.
During his time as a wrestling and football coach and 18 years as athletic director at Canajoharie, Jones has seen plenty of changes for the school's sports teams.
He was directly involved in the merger of the former Tri-Valley League and Schoharie League to form the Western Athletic Conference, the development and layout of the gym and sports fields at the new high school, the change of the school's mascot from the Redskins to Cougars and the merger of the wrestling, swimming and cross-country teams with nearby Fort Plain High School.
"We kind of pioneered that with wrestling 14 years ago," Jones said. "Swimming next and then the last four or five years, it has been cross country, too. I have seen a lot, that is for sure. A lot of things have changed over the years, no doubt about it. People come and go, and I have worked with and met some wonderful people along the way. When I think back, it is not just people locally, it is people around the section and around the state. It has been nice in that respect."
Jones' first weeks of retirement will be spent recuperating at home from hip-replacement surgery.
"It is something that has been coming down the pike," he said. "It started bothering me more over the winter season. I had surgery last week and am at home now trying to bounce back from that."
When his recovery is complete, Jones said he and his wife will be doing a lot of things they have put on the back burner during their teaching careers.
"I feel over the years I made a lot of sacrifices of things that I always seemed to put on the back burner because of athletics," he said. "I think it is the time where my wife and I want to do some things that we both weren't able to do because we were working full time. Traveling is definitely going to happen. We are just going to have some fun. I enjoy fishing and water skiing and those types of things. I enjoy almost any outdoor activity."
One trip already on the schedule is to go to the graduation of their son Grant, who will be a senior at Hobart next year.
When asked if he will still be a presence at the Canajoharie athletic activities, Jones said, "I am not sure. I want to stay away as much as I can only because it is time for new people to take over. I don't want them to think I am looking over their shoulder. But I would gladly help out if someone needed my advice or wanted help with something."
Jones said his final duty as athletic director was to complete the schedules for the upcoming fall season.
"The fall schedules are all in place and set up before I left," he said. "Things are in good shape for the next person."
The school district has not announced a replacement for Jones as athletic director.