Cleveland native Allan Jones was honored recently for his commitment to high school athletics.
Jones, a 1972 graduate of Cleveland High School and the founder of Check Into Cash, was presented with the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association’s prestigious A.F. Bridges award.
The award is given in honor of the TSSAA’s first executive secretary who helped ensure athletics in Tennessee reached a level of excellence. Nominations were made by a Citizenship/Sportsmanship Committee in each athletic district and the final selection was made by a State Selection Committee.
“Being recognized for one of these awards as a school or individual should be seen as one of the highest honors in high school athletics in our state,” said Bernard Childress, TSSAA executive director. “Those who receive the awards truly reflect what high school athletics should be about, and that’s good sportsmanship and good citizenship.”
Jones was praised by the TSSAA for his many efforts to better the lives of high school students. Accomplishments included Jones’ creation in 2011 of the “College of Knowledge” scholarship which gives every graduating senior at Cleveland, Bradley Central and Walker Valley High schools the opportunity to attend Cleveland State Community College free of charge. The scholarship is a partnership with bradleyAchieves and tnAchieves.
Other Jones accomplishments include:
- Donated more than $1.3 million to build the Jones Wrestling Center at Cleveland High School, the most modern state-of-the-art wrestling center in the state. Jones also provided the lead gift to build the wrestling center at rival Bradley Central High School.
- Through Jones’ funding, the TSSAA State Wrestling Championships were broadcast on live television for many years. This made it possible to broadcast the Cleveland High School vs. Bradley Central High School wrestling match live on radio in the early 1980s.
- Provided funding and encouragement to help Cleveland High School’s Broadcasting Class become the top streamcasting class in Tennessee, and to have the most-watched high school streamcasts in the nation, as reported by the Cleveland Daily Banner.
- Donated a 13-foot helium blimp to Cleveland High School to allow streamcasting of football games and other outdoor athletic events. The donation made Cleveland High the only high school in the state to have such state-of-the-art technology. The blimp features the same technology currently used at many of the nation’s best college football programs, including Louisiana State University.
- Funded the first live streamcast of a Cleveland High School vs. Bradley Central High School wrestling match, which drew 1,500 online viewers.
- Jones formed the Higher Calling Wrestling Club that covers the cost for hundreds of youth to compete in preparation for high school wrestling.
- In 2006, Jones started a six-year plan to make the Cleveland High School wrestling team a state powerhouse. The goal was to rejuvenate the Kids Club, middle school and high school programs. The plan was designed so that the 2006 sixth-grade wrestlers would be state champions by the time they were high school seniors in 2013, which would be the conclusion of the 6-year plan.
The first hire was Heath Eslinger as head coach at Cleveland High School, while Eric Phillips was recruited from Miami to head up the most important part — the Cleveland Middle School wrestling program. The results could be seen in 2013 State Duals Finals, where Cleveland dominated second-place finisher Wilson Central 78-4, setting an all-time TSSAA scoring record for the most one-sided match in Tennessee championship history.
n Funded a nationwide online statistical data tracker for 180 high school wrestling programs in Tennessee.