BY GRANT LEDGISTER
Seeking excellence drives the mindset that new Jonas Rodriguez, the newest head football coach at BGA, carries with him and hopes to instill in his players.
BGA is getting a coach with several years of experience to replace Roc Batten, especially at the Division II-AA and AA levels.
In the past, Rodriguez has held defensive coordinator roles at local schools like Montgomery Bell Academy and Ensworth (where he helped the team win a state title). Most recently, he was at Evangelical Christian School where he led the Eagles to the Division II-AA playoffs.
Both ECS and BGA are private schools, but the former is a Christian institution and the latter is secular. Despite this distinction, Rodriguez said he does not notice very many differences between his last school and this newest venture.
Even though there are major differences in teaching philosophies and curriculum, both schools share a common goal. If anything, the differences he notices help him appreciate the similarities shared between the two schools.
“These different schools have some nice traditions and have very supportive administration,” Rodriguez said. “At their core, both schools have really sought excellence, so I think that’s a great commonality.”
On the football side, Rodriguez is in his element coaching D-II high school football, and he feels that coaching at BGA will give him the most ability to win.
“I enjoy competing against good opponents and head coaches,” Rodriguez said. “I feel like this is a school where we can be successful and have the opportunity and resources to help do that.”
What initially drew his interest to BGA was an existing relationship with the school’s athletic director followed by a good conversation.
“I knew [Athletic Director] Fred Eaves already; we just connected and hit it off,” Rodriguez said. “I visited with Fred Eaves and [Head of School] Will Kesler and really talked to them about the position.”
However, it took more than one good conversation for Rodriguez to uproot from Memphis and take the leap that was coming back to Middle Tennessee.
Rodriguez, a native Nashvillian, was able to lean on the support of several area family members when weighing whether or not to come to BGA. He didn’t make the decision until talking with his wife, these other family members, and God.
“I consulted with my wife to make the decision about what was best for our family,” Rodriguez said. “We were prayerful about our decision and just felt we were being led back to Nashville to come to a great institution and be near family.
“This felt like a great place to be as well; BGA has a long tradition of excellence and we really felt this was a great opportunity for us as a family and for me especially, so we’re excited about being here.”
Rodriguez said he is excited get the chance at getting to work with not only the athletes at BGA, but students as well. He will be working in the Alumni Relations department in the school’s Advancement Office and as the Director of Summer Programs with the Upper School.
With his athletes at BGA, Rodriguez plans to encourage his players to follow the same path he did in high school in becoming a multi-sport athlete (he ran track and played basketball and football). He believes that the benefits of playing multiple sports go beyond the borders of being more physically able to play in different environments.
“I believe that you learn more and grow more being involved with different teams and being mentored by different coaches and developing different skillsets,” Rodriguez said.
“What you gain in physical development is as important as the social and emotional and mental development. Kids that compete in multiple sports are representing their school. It’s really import ant to be a part of something bigger than yourself and learning to be sacrificial and developing the discipline required to balance a sport with an academic load.”
It’s a new team and a new environment for him, but there is no worry for Rodriguez going into this position. He’s going to be focused on the future with his athletes, and with that comes no time to dwell on the potential negatives of the job and the season.
The achievement of excellence comes with a process, and Rodriguez is prepared to better himself to give students and athletes the best chance to achieve that excellence.
“If I say, ‘we seek excellence in all that we do,’ we want to do that in a way that we focus on what we can control and focus on the next thing in front of us,” Rodriguez said. “I really try to only focus on the positives. I want to be the best version of myself in order to help the kids be the best versions of themselves.”
Photo from BGA.