Patsy Jones, a Snellville resident, has been involved with the Gwinnett Football League, the county's youth football and cheerleading feeder organization for 24 years, including the past 22 as its volunteer league secretary. Her children Damon and Nicki, both Shiloh grads, were involved with the league. Her full-time job is an assistant vice president with a financial services company.
In this latest installment of "Getting to Know...," the Demorest native talks with sports editor Will Hammock about her duties, the two Davids and Kyle Maynard.
WH: What does the GFL secretary do? You do it all, right?
PJ: I help do the schedule every year. I do just about everything. A little bit of everything.
WH: What do you enjoy about it?
PJ: The kids. I like providing a good place for the kids.
WH: Your kids have been out of the GFL for years, what keeps you going in this job?
PJ: I enjoy it. I just enjoy the atmosphere. I enjoy all the people I've met over the years. I think the football league is a very important thing to keep kids involved in organized sports and keep them out of trouble.
WH: Do you always vacation after seasons?
PJ: This is unusual actually (she spent last week in Florida). Normally I don't get one. Sometimes I feel like I need one after the season.
WH: (GFL president) Erik Richards had me ask this one. How much does the GFL secretary get paid?
PJ: (Laughs) Zero. I'm not getting rich. It's the joy of getting to feel like you're helping kids out.
WH: How many GFL presidents have you worked under?
WH: You've outlasted them all.
PJ: (Laughs) Yeah, I guess I have.
WH: Who is your favorite GFL president?
PJ: I think Erik is. He's done a lot to put GFL on the forefront. We've got a lot new with the GFL since he's been involved. But I still keep in touch with most of those (presidents), they've all been great, positive people. Each and every one of them has bettered the organization during their tenures.
WH: Are you a Georgia or Tech fan?
PJ: Georgia, absolutely. Georgia all the way. I'm a very big fan, especially since Davey Pollack and David Greene played there. They both played at Shiloh when I was involved in the Shiloh association. I've known their families since they were little bitty.
WH: How old were they when you first saw them?
PJ: I believe they were 6. Davey might not have been 6.
WH: Could you tell they were going to be great players?
PJ: Oh yeah. I think their team won the championship, I don't know how many years, but several years in a row.
WH: What was it like to see them star at Georgia and get drafted in the NFL?
PJ: It was awesome, especially knowing what good people they are. It was really, really good. I hated to see Davey injured but I know whatever he does he's going to be a success.
WH: Were you always a Georgia fan or did you convert because of them?
PJ: We've always been Georgia fans. But that just turned it up a notch when they were playing.
WH: What's your least favorite part of the GFL season?
PJ: Probably when we first get started and we're trying to get the schedule completed. That's when it's most hectic. We still do our schedule by hand. We haven't been able to find a computer to process our schedule. We just sit down and put all the teams on a grid and schedule them. We have to work around field availability. We try to work around the high schools in the Corky Kell Classic. We want our kids to support their high school programs playing in that.
WH: How long is the scheduling process?
PJ: With all of us volunteering on our off time, it takes us probably several weeks.
WH: So what's the best part of the season?
PJ: The championship games. You have kids that are so excited. They're always looking to win the blue (first-place) trophies. Don't ever change them from blue to red. I learned that a few years back. I changed them to gold and silver. Then coaches said, "We tell our guys all year long we're playing for the blue trophy.'
We also do a presentation every year for the Kyle Maynard Courage Award. We give it to kid who participate and overcome disabilities to play sports. This year we had four winners, a child with epilepsy, one with autism, one with cerebral palsy. In the past, we've had kids with Down Syndrome.
That's just my favorite day of the year. All the kids are excited and all the awards we give out. That's payment. That's payment for what I do.
WH: Did you see Kyle play (Maynard was born without full arms and legs)?
PJ: I sure did. It was amazing. It was awesome. It was just amazing. He got no special treatment. He just played like every other kid.
WH: I understand he was good at football.
PJ: Yeah, then he went into wrestling and was even better.
WH: How long have you lived in Gwinnett?
PJ: Wow, that's a lot to think about. Let's see. Over 30 years.
WH: What do you think of Gwinnett's changes since then?
PJ: It's mind-boggling. Every time I go to a new area I can't believe it. I was out at Mill Creek this year and I couldn't believe the buildup in the Mill Creek community. It's unbelievable how fast it's grown up in Gwinnett County.
WH: When you first moved here was it a little like Habersham County, where you grew up?
PJ: I lived over in Lilburn then. It was still kind of rural like. Kenerly's had a grocery store down the road and they had a BBQ place. But there wasn't a whole lot on (Highway) 29 at that time. Now it's like another town.
WH: How long do you see yourself doing this job?
PJ: I don't know. As long I can get around. We were laughing the other night that they'll be rolling us out on wheelchairs one day and we'll still be doing it.