When the 2024 Extra Elite 100 rankings came out last fall, the top-ranked position player listed was Sa’Mya Jones, a 5-tool player from Pearland, Texas (a suburb of Houston) who lines up at shortstop primarily and batted .504 with 24 home runs and 91 RBIs last summer for the Texas Bombers 14U National team coached by her father, Steve Jones.
Last fall, we did a spotlight feature on Sa’Mya and she commented on what it’s like to play for her dad as her head coach when we asked “What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome in life?”
“Learning how to play for my dad without getting upset when he helped me,” she answered. “He is an amazing coach and I have learned pretty much all I know from him, but he is still my dad although he doesn’t see it that way on the field. It used to be really hard when he would correct me or push me because, as I got older, I just saw my Dad instead of my Coach first…
I am 100 percent better at that now because I understand he has made me the player I am today by pushing me. I can still get better at it though! But I know just about any player would kill to have a coach like mine.”
Previously with the Hotshots organization until joining the Bombers organization in November of 2018, the Jones dad-and-daughter combo have had great success since both started at the 6U level together.
In 2018, the Jones-led Hotshots 12U team won the USA Elite World Fastpitch Championship in Kansas City and compiled titles at tournaments like Ronald McDonald and the Texas Challenge Series while finishing 2nd at PGF 12U Nationals.
Coach Steve, by day, is a corporate attorney for a national liquified natural gas company and took a significant pay cut for a better quality of life when he moved from a large corporate firm to work in-house. He states, “It allows me to spend quality time with my family, church and my passion of coaching. You learn you can’t put a price on that.”
We asked him what he’s learned from being a father/coach for his daughter… here are his thoughts…
I’ve been coaching youth sports—softball, baseball and football—for 25 years including 20 years of softball coaching and, previously, coached a softball team through 18U Gold without a daughter on it (coached my niece) as I had three sons (now ages 31, 28 and 16) before my daughter came along.
I went back to coaching my youngest son in baseball when I hung up the softball clipboard and then Sa’Mya came along.
After Sa’Mya began playing league softball and had a couple of not-so-successful seasons, she told me I needed to coach her because I would leave baseball season and go right into coaching her brother in football and so it began.
I took over the team of this five-year old and extremely aggressive, athletically gifted, happy-go-lucky kid who just played the game for the fun of it and carried the same big smile whether losing 16-0 or winning 16-0.
I’ve been Sa’Mya’s coach the last 10 years from the age of 5 and her teams have been quite successful. Early on she won three state titles in Pixie League from ages 6 through 8 and we took the majority of that group of league players and moved them to select travel ball as a first year 10U group.
The team has been successful each of the last six years including a national title, national runner ups, and several other top placements in top tournaments. That kid that didn’t care so much about winning is long gone, but the aggressive, athletic, fun-loving kid remained… she just has a bit of an edge now!
I believe I take the charge of Coach more seriously than most travel ball coaches and invest a lot of time and money in continuing to be a better coach no matter how good I, or others, think I might be.
My own profession is such that I’m conditioned to be pretty detail-oriented and maybe somewhat of a perfectionist. In other words, I either do it at the highest level and am all in or I don’t do it at all.
I attend several coaches clinics annually geared toward college and high school coaches and, much to my wife’s chagrin, have spent thousands of dollars on a library of books and CDs related to coaching.
A lot of my discussions with some of the best coaching minds in the college game are not recruiting focused, but focused on the game itself. Most of the high-level college coaches I talk to have been exceptionally gracious in discussing the game including the areas of hitting, strategy, defense, pitching, technological advancements, data analysis, etc.
It just helps me to better prepare my athletes for the highest level of play, whom many of these coaches will likely inherit. I also try to regularly meet with other knowledgeable travel ball coaches and discuss the latest in the advancement of the game.
*** Scroll down to read what Coach Jones says are the two mistakes dad/coaches can make...