Willis Jones was born in Green Bay, Wisconsin in February of 1905. As a student of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he began his career coaching football at Edgewood High School. He moved on later to coach at Beloit prior to coaching at Madison West High School, a career choice that would last him 35 years. Under his leadership, Madison West would eventually go on to win five conference championships over the course of his career. However, Jones was not confined to football; He was a man of versatility. During his career, he also led his teams to championships in basketball, track, volleyball, golf and even skiing.
In 1974, he was awarded to the Madison Sports Hall of Fame. He had been described as one of the most influential high school sports coaches in Wisconsin history.
Willis L. Jones' impact on the Madison community has transcended well beyond his years and continues to influence the community to this day. He taught thousands of young people how to set goals, work together, celebrate victories and accept defeat. Through coaching these teams, he prepared these young people to better understand the world around them and become leaders themselves.
The Jones Leadership Center is named in honor of Willis L. Jones and his influential work within the Madison community. Throughout his career, Mr. Jones has expressed authentic leadership and a capability to lead others through adversity.
Below is a small gallery of photos from Mr. Jones illustrious career. Through these photos, the Jones Leadership Center hopes to offer a glimpse into his life and the immense impact he had in the Madison community.
In addition to football, Mr. Jones also coached track, volleyball and basketball throughout his long 35 year career. Pictured is his 1945 track team from Madison West High School.
Wisconsin State Basketball Winners. Madison West High School, 1945
Mr. Jones efforts were even recognized by the then-current White House administration. Pictured is the White House administration congratulating Mr. Jones on his continues efforts and work towards bettering the Madison community.
In 1932, The University of Wisconsin Hosted the Wisconsin State Basketball Competition. Almost 20 high school teams competed at the tournament only for Beloit High, coached by Jones, to take the championship.
Jones examining his plaque when he was inducted into the Madison Sports Hall of Fame, 1974.
The Jones Leadership Center would not have been possible without the generous contribution and support from Mr. Jones' daughter Dottie and her husband Bob. Dottie wanted a way for her father's contribution to the Madison community to be remembered and celebrated for years to come. What came after was the modern day Jones Leadership Center and the formation of the Empower Leadership Series: The JLC workshop series dedicated to students who want to develop their leadership style through empowerment and reflection.