The lady amongst men

Despite seven different women sports programs at Southeastern, Lady Lions basketball head coach Lori Davis Jones is the only female head coach at the university. Jones is outnumbered by eight male head coaches, including Pete Langlois, Geno Frugoli, Jason Hayes, Blake Hornbuckle and Sean Brady, who all coach women’s teams. Jones is also the only female coach on her own staff as Eric Dumas and Brent Harris have served as her assistants for the past eight seasons.  

“It’s not foreign to me because, for the most part, coaching is still a man’s world,” said Jones. “When I started my coaching career at Lambuth University in 1994, I was the only female coach for forever.”

Even though she is the only female of the bunch, Jones shares a unique relationship with her colleagues. Jones and track and field head coach Sean Brady ran track together at Southeastern, and during her time as a student athlete, Tim Baldwin became head coach of the golf team. Jones also knew women’s tennis head coach Jason Hayes prior to her career at Southeastern. When she was a coach at Lambuth, Hayes was a coach at Cumberland University, both of which played in the same conference.

“We get along great. The neat thing about Hammond and Southeastern is you do have an opportunity to grow a career,” said Jones. “It’s a special place here as a coach.”   

Jones, a Clinton, La., native, played basketball at Southeastern and led the Lady Lions in scoring and rebounding in her freshman season of 1987-88. She enters her tenth season at the helm for the Lady Lions. Jones obtained her bachelor’s degree from Southeastern in 1992 and a master’s degree in education from Memphis in 1995.

Coach Jones never thought she would become a coach.  

“I wish I would of known that I was going to be a coach when I was a player,” said Jones. “Coaching came knocking on my door three times. I wish that as a player I would’ve been a better sponge and absorbed all the things that would have been important as a head coach.”

Though women outnumber men as head coaches eight to four in Southland Conference women’s basketball, Jones has gone head-to-head with her share of men in the sport. Jones has not kept a record of how many men as opposed to women she has faced, or defeated, in her career and says a battle of male versus female never crosses her mind. She does get the edge in one way.

“I never really worried about male versus female, but a lot of female basketball coaches are a lot shorter than males, so I wear my highest heels and go stand up next to them and make them have to look up to me,” said Jones jokingly.

After showing her sense of humor, Jones added that she prepares mentally to compete against coaches based on scouting reports and knowing who they are and respecting them for their abilities, man or woman.

In the 2009-2010 season, Jones became the third coach in the program’s history to reach 100 career wins. Last season Jones led the Lady Lions to the SLC  Tournament for the third consecutive season, which marked fifth time in the last six years the Lady Lions had clinched a berth.

When asked what advice she would give to any young woman wanting to pursue a career in coaching, Jones stated:

“Have a support system of people who can surround you and embrace you and help you,” said Davis Jones. “As far as professionally when you’re young network yourself, don’t be afraid to get out of your box.”