He may not be St. Charles East's loudest fan but he is undoubtedly one of the school's most loyal supporters.
Meet Lloyd Jones -- St. Charles East Super Fan.
Whether it's a Saints home girls volleyball match or boys/girls basketball game, Jones likely can be found sitting in his customary spot along the wall just to the right of the main entrance to the gymnasium.
The reserved, unassuming 80-year-old doesn't have any grandchildren who attend St. Charles East.
But he does take a rooting interest for all things Saints.
"I love watching high school sports," said Jones, who has been attending St. Charles (East) High School athletic events for the past 36 years. "Anything other than high school sports I'm not too interested in.
"The kids do it for the fun of the game," added Jones. "They play their hearts out and I love to watch them."
In turn, the Saints' teams love having him around.
"He's like a family member to us," said St. Charles East girls volleyball coach Jennie Kull. "He's our lucky guy. He's a part of the tradition that makes our school so special."
"It's great to have him around and the girls really like him," said Saints girls basketball coach Lori Drumtra. "There's definitely a special relationship between us and him."
Along with his four brothers and four sisters, Jones grew up in South Dakota where he played one year of grade-school basketball before moving to St. Charles in 1956.
"I worked at a gas station up until 1968 and then I spent some time driving trucks," said Jones, who helped raise three sons of his own -- Terry, Kyle, and Glenn -- with his wife, Wilma.
"My oldest son was a wrestler who graduated in 1976 when St. Charles High School was located where Thompson (Middle School) is today," added Jones.
In 1976, Jones went to work for St. Charles School District 303 as a night custodian supervisor.
"I worked at the basketball games at Dunham Junior High School where the current high school was built," he said.
Jones was employed with the school district until 1985 when he took a position with the City of St. Charles before his retirement.
Jones, who spends his summer months in his trailer in Sheridan, watches volleyball, softball, baseball and occasional football games at St. Charles East but his first love is basketball.
"That's my main one," said Jones.
A fixture at St. Charles East home games, Jones also travels to watch his beloved Saints play on the road.
"He goes to our away games," said Kull. "I have a very cool picture of him with our girls when we won the sectional title."
Two years ago, Jones attended the state volleyball tournament finals in Normal when the Saints took home a third-place trophy.
"He drove down by himself," said Kull. "I was a little concerned about it but he was like, 'I'm going to take my time getting there.' He's very calm."
When Jones isn't at his familiar place in the Saints' gym, there's often cause for concern.
"When the kids don't see him, they'll ask, 'Where's Lloyd, where's Lloyd?'" said Drumtra. "They'll start getting worried about him."
"There's a feeling of uneasiness if he's not there," said Kull. "We need him to be there. It's a sense of security for us."
Drumtra, who is in her eighth year as St. Charles East's girls basketball head coach, added that Jones is more than just a fan who attends the team's games.
"We've invited him to our team banquet every year since I've been head coach," said Drumtra. "We give him a gift, take a team picture with him and give it to him.
"We've even had him to the pasta party the girls have before a home game," she said. "And he keeps in touch with former players -- he's on Facebook."
Jones, whose wife passed away in 2005 after a battle with cancer, attends both sophomore and varsity home games.
"She didn't care for sports too much -- she stayed home and watched TV," he said of his wife. "Except for the news, TV is not for me."
The schedule maker can make things difficult for Jones.
"One thing that makes me mad is when the boys and girls play the same night at different places," said Jones, who usually chooses to attend the girls' game on such occasions.
"This Saturday, the girls are home (against Elgin) and the boys are at (St. Charles) North," he added. "I'd love to see the game at North but I'll be at East for the girls' game. I think they appreciate me a bit more than the boys do."
Last weekend, the Saints' girls basketball team members all greeted Jones with a good-luck hug just before the national anthem and player introductions.
"It's something we started this year," said Drumtra, who credits assistant coach Sarah Seward for her encouragement of the relationship with the team's No. 1 fan. "We told the girls, 'go give Lloyd a hug and they were like, OK.' They enjoy having him here."
"They say I'm their good luck charm," said Jones, who usually reserves Wednesday nights for dinner with two of his sons (who live in Sycamore and Genoa, respectively). "Whatever makes them happy makes me happy."
By now, Jones probably owns enough Saints gear -- team T-shirts and hats -- to get him through an entire week.
On those rare occurrences when the Saints are off, Jones will find another local team in action.
"I'll go watch St. Charles North," said Jones. "A few weeks ago, I went to the Geneva-St. Charles North girls basketball game. And I enjoy watching St. Charles North's boys basketball team because I remember seeing (North Stars boys basketball coach) Tom Poulin play when he was in high school at St. Charles."
First and foremost though, Jones is a Saints fan.
"He is our Saint," said Kull. "He's always giving, never taking. He's always kind. It's not about him. For us, it is. It's a blessing to have him around.
"Lloyd is a special person for us," added Kull. "He really is a fun guy. We think the world of him."
Perhaps someday soon there will be a "Saints Super Fan Night" to honor Jones or maybe a plaque hung above his cushioned seat in the gym.
For now, the next time you walk into the Saints' gym, take a moment to stop by and say hello to Lloyd.
He'll be the man sitting in the first chair by the entrance.
You can reach Craig Brueske at email@example.com.
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