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Mel Jones remembers when Lafayette High School opened its doors for the first time “like it was yesterday.”
As the first integrated high school in Williamsburg back in 1973, he recalls a “magical” experience of watching a group of white and black young men come together and turn the Rams’ 4-6 football team into a 12-1 powerhouse in that first season.
“We were the second best team in the state,” said Jones, who helped coach the football team from 1973-89. “But it wasn’t the wins and losses as much as how those boys came together. There was no white or black, and that set the tone for years to follow.”
Forty years to be exact.
Jones, who, in addition to coaching football for 17 years is entering his 41st season as the Rams’ track coach, will help celebrate that milestone as he, along with one other coach and 14 former athletes from the school, are inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame as part of the Rams’ 40th anniversary celebration.
“I’ve been a lot of places and around a lot of schools, but none have impressed me like Lafayette,” Jones said. “And I’m not just saying that because I’ve been here so long; I’ve been here so long because it’s true. All [the alumni] care about the school and about its reputation. I’m just blessed to have been given the chance to help all these kids and help them be successful.”
The Hall of Fame luncheon, scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday at Ford’s Colony, is one of several events being planned by the school for Friday and Saturday.
After the luncheon, there will be a 1:20 p.m. pep rally at the school followed by a 4 p.m. Homecoming parade in Colonial Williamsburg.
A cookout will then be held at 5:30 p.m. before the Rams’ sixth Hall of Fame class, including Jones, is announced prior to the 7 p.m. kickoff of the Rams’ homecoming football game against Smithfield at Wanner Stadium.
The celebrations will continue Saturday as Lafayette’s girls basketball coach Chris Brown, who starred on the Rams’ boys basketball team in the mid 1980s, will host an alumni basketball game at Williamsburg Christian Academy at 2 p.m. Brown’s team will take on a Bruton High alumni squad headed by Panthers’ girls basketball coach Terrence Green, who was a three-year standout for Bruton’s boys team from 2005-07.
Brown said both teams will feature some of the school’s most prestigious alumni, including former Bruton High football and basketball star Bryan Randall, who guided the Panthers to their only state football title in 2001, as well as Chris’ brother, Gary Brown (’80), a former all-state guard and Peninsula District Player of the Year.
Later Saturday evening, Brown will also host an all-black attire dance function with DJ Heart Attack of the radio station 103 JAMZ at the Historic Triangle building beginning at 7 p.m. Cost is $15 in advance and $20 at the door.
Below are the alumni and coaches who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this weekend. Click here for more information on the honorees.
- Aaron Nester, class of 2009, swimming
- Amy Hundley, class of 2001, track and field
- Ashley Reyher, class of 2002, cross-country/volleyball/tennis
- Brendan Summers, class of 2002, football
- Rev. Dr. Calvin Gray, class of 1976, football/basketball/track
- Carolyn Cross, class of 2002, soccer/cross-country
- Chris Luzar, class of 1997, football/basketball/track
- Connor Hughes, class of 2002, football/soccer
- Fran Hermance, coach, softball/field hockey
- Karen Seaman, class of 1999, volleyball
- Lauren Wenger, class of 2001, swimming
- Mel Jones, coach, football/track
- Michele Niles, class of 1990, field hockey/swimming
- Rian Thompson, class of 1999, football/track/basketball
- Rondollyn Givens, class of 1978, basketball/track
- Ross Pinkett, class of 2003, football