“What makes Derby unique and what do you enjoy most about working there?”
This question and others in similar context is one I receive most often from friends and family.
While I do primarily work in athletics, I enjoy the opportunity to highlight what’s being done by the city, DRC, schools and various local businesses.
Today, the answer to that question is a now Derby High School graduate who has captured an athletic program in a way never seen before.
Brett Jones, who is a dedicated filmmaker and avid follower of all things Derby High School sports, will be showing ‘Panther Pride: The 2017 Summer of Derby High School Football’ to the community on Wednesday, May 15 in the high school auditorium at 7:15 p.m.
Jones gave us a first look at the project this past week and I walked away even more impressed with his body of work as a Derby High School student.
The documentary, which spans one hour and 10 minutes, doesn’t solely highlight the work done by coach Brandon Clark’s crew on Friday nights in the fall.
In-depth interviews with coaches and Derby High School principal Tim Hamblin give a greater sense of the roots of the program. It also showcases their desire to see their athletes grow off the field and how that can ultimately impact them in games as well.
The title of the documentary stems from Panther Pride, which is the name of the summer schedule for a large majority of school sports.
For most of the summer, Clark’s squad gathers at 6:30 a.m. for a combination of agility, on-field and weight training. In the case of Panther football, Jones did a fantastic job giving a glimpse toward why this time has become integral for its success in the fall.
A padded camp at the University of Tulsa gives the players a look at how they line up in the beginning weeks of their summer schedule. As someone who has never attended, I was fascinated to see Derby line up against some of the best programs in the region.
Perhaps my biggest takeaway was seeing boot camp, which typically runs for one week toward the end of July and into the first week of August.
If you haven’t attended or heard about it before, it gave me the best picture of how fundamentals, team chemistry and precision have become so valuable for the team. It’s inspiring footage.
Since I first arrived at the Informer in December 2016, I’ve watched athletes graduate, coaches change or get promoted and many highlight performances.
Arguably the biggest constant in my two and a half years? The work done by Jones.
This documentary is far from the only highlight of his career. For those unfamiliar with his work, the now graduate has invested countless hours at different academic and athletic events.
No admission is required on Wednesday, but donations given will go through the Derby High School Football Club to benefit the education of Jones and fellow student Hannah Abou-Faissal.
Amidst preparation for the final athletic events of the 2018-19 school year, don’t miss an opportunity to see the dedication and creativity of Jones’ work. You won’t regret it.

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