Aldine ISD Feature: Toro Tough
WHO IS THE MOST DOMINANT TEAM IN ALDINE ISD?
You might say MacArthur cross country or Eisenhower football. Wrong. Jones Middle School was opened in 2018 and since then, the Toros football and basketball teams have never lost a district game…never. They've won nearly 30 district titles.
Athletic coordinator Laurentis Butler-Thomas opened the school and immediately put his stamp on the department. "I'm big on building a foundation, a culture. If you come through Jones, you are going to be prepared for the next level," he said. "The wins and losses don't mean that much to me. It's about playing hard, hustling, and being prepared. When we send them off to high school having taught then that culture, then we have done our job."
The culture carries over in the classroom. "We have the highest passing rate in the district, so our kids stay on the field," he said. "The kids put in the work in the classroom and that comes first." The school won the Aldine ISD Adidas 3-Stripe Award, which names the district's top athletic program – the Toros are the first middle school program to win the award. "Every single one of these kids are so unselfish," he said. "They make the extra pass on the basketball court and don't care who scores the touchdown. They are willing to play different positions to help the team. They have never lost a game in football or basketball and that's unheard of."
The defining moment when Butler-Thomas understood he had something special? "As seventh graders, we were down 25-13 with two minutes to go in our district Super Bowl," he said. "We scored, got the onside kick, and scored again to win. "They just refuse to lose." His stars on both fields of play include Bryson Wheatfall, Jomarques Henderson, Tristan Williams, McCarthur Baker, Eric Lavengne, and Laurence Littles. The school is also home to one of the top eighth-grade girl hoopers in Aniah Holmes. "I remember being their age and what they are going through," he said. "I know the backgrounds they are coming from. I know how to interact and talk with them. For a lot of my students, sports are all they know. I preach to them to use sports as a vehicle to get their education."
The 411 with Jones Middle School AD Laurentis Butler-Thomas
VYPE: Who is the most influential person in your life?
BUTLER: My parents for sure. They have always pushed me to work hard, have faith, and believe that education is key to open many doors of opportunity.
VYPE: What coach do you pattern your career after?
BUTLER: My high school coach – the late Emory Bellard, who coached at Texas A&M. He was my high school coach at Westfield. Coach Bellard taught me the skills and lessons to build a solid program that stands the test of time through building relationships with the community, co-workers, players, and administrators. I feel I have the best coaching staff in the business.
VYPE: How did you get your start?
BUTLER: I started as an elementary school PE teacher. I went from there to Stovall Middle School and ran some 7-on-7 stuff. The Aldine coach then was Lionel Crawford and he asked me to come over and help with the freshman and varsity a little bit. I then became the Athletic Coordinator at Stovall Middle and we did some good things over there. When they opened Jones, they thought of me. I couldn't thank Dre Thompson, Mr. Delgado, Ms. Mader, Mr. Colbert, and my principal Mr. Pruitt enough for having the faith in me to lead and start a brand-new athletic program.