The special fundraising event will be held at Bradley Central High School beginning at 7 p.m., with Coach Jones to deliver the keynote address for what is expected to be a two-hour event that will also include a question and answer time with audience members.
According to Pat Fuller, Sunrise Rotary president, and Cheryl Dunson, who coordinates the organization’s public information, the evening will include a series of presentations and entertainment.
“We’re extremely excited to be the first organization in Cleveland to bring the new coach to town,” Fuller said. “Our goal is to create an atmosphere for all ages of fans who want to come and express their support for Coach Jones and a new era of football at UT.”
Fuller encouraged local residents to attend the event as a show of support for the new coach. She also pointed to the civic side of the night. That is, the Sunrise Rotary charities that benefit from the proceeds of the group’s fundraisers.
According to Dunson, the local Rotary affiliate supports local and global causes including Habitat for Humanity, the American Cancer Society, the Salvation Army and Bradley Sunrise Rotary’s Angel Flight initiative. Globally, the local group recently sponsored the installation of a clean water system in El Negrito, Honduras, and has been a supporter of the Mary Diana Samuel Orphanage for Girls in India.
“I’m looking forward to June 7 being a Big Orange Night for fans from around the area,” Fuller said. “I want everyone to come out and to encourage, and support, Coach Jones.”
Tennessee hired Coach Jones last December to become the university’s 24th head football coach. He owns a 50-27 record (.649) in six seasons as a head coach. Prior to joining Tennessee football, Jones coached the University of Cincinnati where he finished with a 23-14 record in three seasons with the Bearcats.
Jones also was the head coach for three years at Central Michigan and compiled a 27-13 record. He has won at least eight games in five of his six years as a head coach, including three seasons of nine-plus wins in the last four years. He led Cincinnati to a Top 25 final national ranking in 2011.
In filling the Tennessee head coach vacancy, created by the departure of Derek Dooley after three seasons, Jones said he is familiar with the legacy of Vols football and the expectation of the school and its fans.
“I understand the values, traditions and level of expectations that come with this position, and I look forward to being a part of the Vol Nation,” he said on his first day on the job.
Jones is the latest in a series of nationally recognized faces who have come to Cleveland on behalf of Sunrise Rotary fundraising. Others have included college football coaching legend Vince Dooley and his wife, Barbara; Derek Dooley, former UT coach; and Collins Tuohy, the real-life sister of Michael Oher, an offensive tackle playing for the Baltimore Ravens whose life was featured in the Hollywood film, “The Blind Side.”
For more information about Friday’s event or to purchase tickets, Vols Nation enthusiasts can also contact Fuller at 423-244-1000. Tickets can be purchased as well at the Orange Blossom Boutique in the Stuart Park Plaza or at the main branch of Southern Heritage Bank on Keith Street.
Tickets for the event will be $25 and can also be purchased from any Sunrise Rotarian or through EventBrite, which can be accessed on the civic club’s website at www.bradleysunriserotary.com.
Local Big Orange fans will also be happy to know former Bradley Central all-stater Austin Sanders joined the Vols in Knoxville earlier this week to begin the next step in his football career.
The 6-foot-6, 300-pounder was named Mr. Tennessee Football Class AAA Lineman last fall and was the first player ever offered a scholarship by the University of Tennessee before playing his junior year in high school.
Although recruited by many other NCAA Division I schools, including national champion Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan and the like, Sanders said getting to play for Tennessee has been a lifelong dream.
The two-time All-State performer is excited about the opportunity to be a part of the changes that are going on in Knoxville with the arrival of Coach Jones.