Oval Jaynes '62, Distinguished Alumni

National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics Hall of Fame member Oval Jaynes received Appalachian's 2014 Distinguished Alumni Award.

"Reunion" performed by Evan Wise
Courtesy of Position Music
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Oval Jaynes '62: I grew up in Morganton, which is about 50 miles from Boone. My dad grew up in Burke County in Morganton and my mother had grown up in Salisbury. They dated while she was in school at Appalachian and they of course were married.

OJ: Appalachian was part of my life since I was kid. Going through my mom’s annuals, which I still have copies of the annuals. All of her pictures I’ve torn out of them because I thought I should be carrying them in my pocket. After high school, I had several offers to go other places and I didn’t think I would go to school at Appalachian. I changed my mind and it was probably the greatest decision I’ve ever made in my life.

OJ: So, I knew a lot about Appalachian before I came. I knew my way around. I knew some of the faculty members. Some of them were the same who taught my mama and probably the most exciting thing that happened, happened right at the beginning of my sophomore year. I met this good looking cheerleader. Lord, and it’s been a merry go round ever since. The day after we met, I came back and told my roommate, “I think I’ve met the woman I’m going to marry.” We actually decided to get married before our senior year. Seems like we’ve known each other all of our lives and this month, we’ll be married 54 years on June 25th. A lot of special memories.

OJ: Well, when I finished at Appalachian, I was very fortunate and I already had a job offer. I got into coaching and spent 21 years as a coach. Once I left coaching in the early 80s, I became an athletic director. Thought about, at times, going into the NFL and had opportunities to do that, but I felt like my place to be was on a college campus. Being in college athletics for almost 50 years, I was blessed. Not many people had the chance to take the games they played as a kid and then play it in high school and college and then make your career out of it.

OJ: I couldn’t sleep fast enough. I wanted to get into the next day so much. Never in my life had I thought that I had a real job. I’ll never forget when my dad told me, “You’ve been coaching for 20 years. Don’t you think it’s time for you to come home and take a real job?” That’s the way I feel. I’ve spent a lifetime in college athletics and never really thought I had a job. Just kept getting up every day and enjoying it everyday.

OJ: When I finished school, I felt an obligation to give back. I started buying season tickets and we gave to the Yosef Club and for 41 years I had those season tickets and believe it or not, never set in the seats. Of course you’ve got to realize that I went into college athletics and I was working every day that they were playing. So, I never had a chance to come back. It was 2003 before I finally came to a game and actually sat in the seats for the first time, but I always bought my season tickets. I really thought it was a way that I could give back and contribute. Really to give back so that another group of student athletes and students could come to Appalachian and experience the good things that my wife and I experienced there as students.

OJ: Well, a couple years ago I got a phone call from the executive director of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics and he told me that I had been selected to be inducted into the National Athletic Directors Hall of Fame. It was really a great honor, more than anything, to be voted on it by your peers. To recognize the body of work that you had as an athletic director. It was special.

OJ: I’ve been inducted into my home county hall of fame, sports hall of fame and of course I’ve received another award from the American Football Foundation. Maybe a sign of receiving awards is a sign of you getting older, maybe I don’t know.

OJ: When Dr. Peacock called and said that I’ve been selected to receive this award, it really brought back a lot of fond memories. Not only of my days at Appalachian, but of all the people that shared in my education there and our friendships through the years. I really had a warm feeling about the award because I knew how proud my mom and dad would be.

OJ: I think when you go to a school and you’re a student, you’re an athlete and you leave, you never really think about receiving any awards after that, but to receive this award at this time in my life is really special. It’s more than about me. It’s about my wife, my family, the friends that I’ve made at Appalachian. That’s what is special about it.

OJ: The award is not about me, it’s about all those that can share in it. I’m very honored, very humble to be a Distinguished Alumni for 2014.