By Michael Davison

Globe Sports Writer

Joplin High School's girls basketball players already have a working relationship with their new head coach.

Erin Jones, who has served as an assistant through four years, was hired by the Board of Education on Tuesday night to replace Dan Rogers, who resigned this past month.

"I'm really excited. I've been waiting for this chance since I was 15," she said. "That's half my life.

"I'm ready to help this program. Coach Rogers put the team in the right direction."

Jones, who graduated from Springfield Kickapoo in 1994, played basketball for two years at the University of Missouri-Kansas City before ending her collegiate career at Rockhurst in 1998, where she received her bachelor's degree.

She was a graduate assistant for a season at Pittsburg State University. She then served as assistant basketball and volleyball coach at Pittsburg's St. Mary's-Colgan for a season before becoming head volleyball coach at Girard for two seasons.

In her four seasons at Joplin, she was freshmen coach for one season before serving as the junior varsity coach for the past three seasons. Last year, Joplin's JV was 19-3, with two of those losses coming to varsity teams.

"We've got a good group of girls," Jones said. "They're hard workers, plus they're friends on and off the court.

"They enjoy playing. They're excited and I am, too."

In addition to being head girls coach, Jones will continue to be freshman softball coach.

"I enjoy being outside and getting to work with coach (Kirk) Harryman and (Bruce) Vonder Haar," Jones said.

She will continue to teach high school physical education and health.

"Erin has done an excellent job for us and has paid her dues," said Athletic Director Doug Doss. "She's been here for four years and we've improved every year.

"I felt like it was time to give her a chance to be head coach. She's been loyal to the district and she's very knowledgeable."

Jones becomes the second assistant promoted from within Joplin in as many years. Last spring, Tim Spiers became head boys coach.

It will be a few weeks before Jones will be able to take the court as head coach. That's because a new floor is being installed at Kaminsky Gymnasium and isn't expected to be ready until early July.

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