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HAMILTON — June Jones is trying to bring the good vibes from Hawaii to Hamilton this football season.
The Ticats’ head coach, who remains closely tied to the island where he played quarterback in the ’70s and later coached, has been spotted wearing a shell necklace throughout training camp this week.
As it turns out, the 65-year-old isn’t trying to make a fashion statement.
“This was given to me by a well-known guy that goes around, and all the shells are from different islands in Hawaii,” said Jones. “The small ones are Wahine shells and the big ones are the Kahuna shells. They have meaning, and they’re from Ni’ihau, Molokai — everywhere.”
Jones is in his second season with the Ticats, but is starting his first full campaign as a CFL head coach. He took over as the team’s bench boss on Labour Day last year after Kent Austin stepped down, helping fans forget about an 0-8 start with a 6-4 run to finish the season.
While the Ticats missed the playoffs, Jones brought innovation to the offence and continuity to the team, which will try to carry that late-season success into 2018.
If the shells provide that little extra karma the Ticats need to win a Grey Cup, Jones is all in.
“When I was given it, because it’s not given to very many people — it’s not something that’s just given by that guy to everyone — he said ‘I expect to see it on television’, so I make sure I wear it every once in a while so I don’t get bad vibes.
“That was probably a year ago, maybe July, and I had it last year when I was here and I didn’t wear it. I’m saying this is our year so I don’t want to screw it up by not wearing the shells.”
Jones was born in Portland, Oregon, and played for the Oregon Ducks for two seasons before transferring to Hawaii. After playing two more seasons for Portland State and signing with the Atlanta Falcons, he spent a season in the CFL with the Toronto Argonauts.
In 1983 Jones launched his coaching career, starting as a quarterbacks coach with the University of Hawaii for one season and coming full circle in 1999 when he returned to Hawaii as a head coach.
Jones’ career once again came full circle when he returned to Canada in 2017, joining Kent Austin’s staff as an assistant.