A Grayson County love story
By Barry Berman

Players graduate, and new ones take their place. But a constant presence at Grayson County High School is Coach Bryan Jones, 38, whose mission is to create strong and responsible young men.

Love of family and community and the desire to shape the lives of young people in Grayson County are the driving forces in the lives of Bryan and Alana Jones, both 38, of Leitchfield.

Bryan is the head football coach at Grayson County High School. Elevated to the head coaching job in 2019 after three years as an assistant, he sees his main role as molding his charges into productive men. "Winning football games is great," says Bryan, "But my job is to create great sons, great husbands and great fathers."

Alana shares the same mission. A Leitchfield native and former star of the GCHS women's basketball team, she is the head coach of the girl's middle school basketball team, and with Bryan, volunteers as the assistant coach for the varsity girl's basketball team. A full-time private occupational therapist, when school ends she trades her scrubs for sweatpants and a whistle and runs a rigorous team practice. "I was blessed to grow up here and have the support of so many people. It's important for me to give back to the community that helped me and to be there for my girls."

Bryan and Alana are raising three active daughters. Breigh, 13, Kinley, 10, and London, 9, share their parents' passion for athletics. All accomplished basketball players, Breigh and Kinley are key contributors to the GCMS team. Not to be outdone, London is one of the top softball players in the state and plays for a ranked travel team. If not on the sidelines coaching, Mom and Dad are in the stands as cheering, proud parents.

The family's day begins long before dawn. As Alana prepares lunch boxes, Bryan makes breakfast which the girls gobble down before they feed the family chickens and pile into the car for school. Sipping coffee overlooking their 42-acre homestead while the rising sun reflects off the pond, Bryan gestures to his land. "Alana's father has mowed these fields for almost fifty years. Having the stability of extended family and long roots are important for our girls," says Bryan, a native Floridian. "If I got a coaching offer in Alaska, Alana would be the first to say let's go, but I'll never leave here."

Friday nights across America belong to high school football and marching bands. It's no different in Grayson. While the scoreboard sometimes tells a disappointing story, not all wins are recorded on the field. As director of the Alternative School which is responsible for educating the most at-risk kids in the county, Bryan tallies his wins incrementally. "This is the best or last opportunity to have a positive impact on these kids to make good decisions or go down a destructive path. It would be easy to quit on them, but I won't."

When asked if the stresses of coaching take away from their family life, Alana says, "We get as much as we give. My girls have a built-in network of big sisters." As for date nights, "That's time spent with Bryan and the girls."

During a time-out called after a spell of sloppy execution, Alana gathers and refocuses her players, who pay rapt attention.

The love story begins. After meeting at a party at Eastern Kentucky University in 2005, Alana and Bryan embark on the journey which will ultimately bring them to Leitchfield.

Alana and Bryan shout encouragement to Breigh as she leads a fast break during a spirited varsity practice.

In the hustle and bustle of getting out the door in the morning, Alana commands the younger girls while Breigh waits in the shadows.

As the Director of the Grayson County High School Alternative School, Bryan is intently committed to helping all students succeed. Here, he counsels 16-year-old Nevaeh Nash.

The stern faces of coach Jones and players belie the fact that Lady Cougars were up by 15 points.

Trailing by a large margin at halftime, Coach Jones encourages his players to fight on till the end. “You need to show character. You need to show heart, for yourselves and for each other.” Waylon Bruce (from left), Dalton Russell, Jacob Leslie, Jaren VanMeter and Will Vincent absorb Coach’s words.

With time and the game slipping away, Bryan searches the bench for answers.

The pain and disappointment of the loss melt away as Alana meets Bryan in an empty stadium after the game. They savor these quiet moments as the weekend brings basketball tournaments for the girls and game preparation for next week’s match for Bryan. “We’ll catch up at some point,” Alana said.