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Willie Hutch Jones is not your normal teacher

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Willie Hutch Jones is not your normal teacher

courtesy Willie Hutch Jones

Willie Hutch Jones at Burgard graduation

Willie Hutch Jones is not your normal teacher

courtesy Willie Hutch Jones

Jones during his playing days

Photos by courtesy Willie Hutch Jones

By Amanda O’Leary
For Willie “Hutch” Jones, Burgard High school’s gym teacher, the road from there to here is much different than any other high school gym teacher; but how many are former Lakers?
It all started for Jones growing up sitting on his parents’ bed watching NBA games on television. With his homemade rim, a hanger on top of a door and glove as his basketball, his journey begins.
In high school the 5’8” freshman became a 6’6” senior.
Jones attended Buffalo State College before transferring to Vanderbilt University where he played basketball. During his college career he scored 1094 points and played in 103 games.
After playing against better and better competitors and making Jones a better athlete, he wanted to go pro and tryout for the NBA.
In June 1982, Jones was drafted in the third round by the Los Angeles Lakers. Shortly after, on November 24, 1982 he debuted in the NBA as a San Diego Clipper.
“At first it was like living a dream because they were such well known stars but I was trying to get a job so I quickly got over that part,” said Jones.
During his time in the NBA, Jones met several famous stars, players like Kareem Abdul Jabbar , Larry Bird and Magic Johnson.
“When I left the Lakers to get picked up by the Clippers I felt saddened and realized that they were truly the top athletes in the league,” said Jones.
His career only lasted a short two seasons and back in Buffalo, you can say he found a higher calling.
“Buffalo was always my home and my family lived here and the job opportunity was available,” said Jones.
That job opportunity put Jones’ Physical Education degree he got from Vanderbilt University to use. Working at several Buffalo schools from Public School 76, Buffalo Academy For The Visual And Performing Arts, High Schools Grover Cleveland, McKinley, Kensington and Jones then ending up at Burgard.
Jones remains at Burgard 19 years later.
Being a Phys. Ed. Teacher is just part of the job, using his love of basketball and career as a former NBA player, Jones also coaches and is currently the head coach of Burgard’s basketball team.
“I coached basketball at every school that I worked at...which was a no brainer by being an ex pro in that sport,” said Jones.
Jones wanted to do more for the youth of the city of Buffalo, so he started the Willie Hutch Jones Sports Educational & Sports Program.
“I started the Willie Hutch Jones Sports Educational and Sports Programs 27 years ago with the help of Leroi Johnson and Bernard Mitchell who is now passed.” said Jones.
The no cost program’s mission is to give city youth instruction, skill development, after school academic refinement in subjects like science, engineering and math, delinquency prevention, finance management, foreign language instruction, character development, and lifetime social skills for resilient youth throughout Western New York.
“We feel that area youth need more guidance in the areas of basic fundamentals, social skills, and mentoring in a year round format,” said Jones. “We also believe that if you make them pay for these kind of services you would discriminate financially against many people because they just don't have the money.”
The program helps children not just education wise, but helps find better things to do in their free time like volleyball and other sports rather than take part in violent acts and have better behaviors.
All with the goal to help the youth be better prepared for employment and to be productive members of society.
In the future Jones hopes to expand his program to other non-profit organizations to other cities like Charlotte, NC and Atlanta, GA and increase the after school programs.
Thanks to the support from Tops, M&T bank, Ingram Micro, children's foundation of Erie County, Buffalo Teachers Federation, Rotary Club of Buffalo, AAA of Western New York, and Time warner Cable, these future goals might be possible.
Willie “Hutch” Jones traveled a long road since his younger days in his parents’ room watching old NBA games. Although his career was short lived, his days of being positive influence on the children of Buffalo and of Western New York continue to this day, making him a local hero, but this former NBA player will be found on any given school day in gym class.



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