It's one thing to be a successful student-athlete by becoming a multi-year starter and a scholar off of the soccer pitch.
However, accomplishing those feats -- all while being named a senior captain and having the respect of your fellow teammates and classmates?
That's when one knows that he or she has the vast respect of everybody on campus.
As a soon-to-be Shawnee State graduate who will enroll inside the biomedical research technologies program at Cincinnati, Chris Jones has enjoyed a four-year career that has been filled with rewarding adventures on and off of the soccer pitch.
They'll be memories that Jones will certainly never forget as he moves on to the next chapter of his life.
"Attending SSU was one of the best decisions that I have made," Jones said. "I gained tons of memories and friends, both from the soccer team and my classmates. I have learned a lot about myself as a person and what it takes to be successful in the world thanks to the help of my professors and coaches. I can't thank SSU and the people there enough for everything they have done for me these past four years. SSU is a great place, and I'm glad to have been part of the family."
To be successful in life, one has to start developing his or her resume from the outset so that he or she can gain the proper skills and cultivate the proper connections to advance.
Jones wasted no time doing just that at Jamestown Greeneview High School. From the outset, Jones became a four-year contributor for Greeneview's soccer program, starring all over the field for a unit that went 56-18-4 over his four-year career with the Rams.
During this span, the four-year letterwinner helped improve a defense that allowed 1.84 goals per contest the year prior to Jones' arrival in the program to just 0.95 goals per bout in his final year with the program in 2015.
While primarily a backline force, Jones also proved that he could score when needed, posting six goals and six assists as a freshman and four goals as a junior. He ultimately helped lead Greeneview to two Division III Southwest District Final appearances, a Division III Southwest District Championship and, in his senior season, a Division III, Region 12 Semifinal appearance -- where it took a strong effort by eventual Division III State Champions Cincinnati Summit Country Day to oust Greeneview.
In addition to his excellence on the soccer field with the Rams, Jones got involved in the community. He served in the National Honor Society, was a member of the Christian student group Soul'd Out, and joined the Service Club and SODA (Student Opposed to Drugs and Alcohol) at the school -- all while also playing tennis and running track during different portions of his high school career.
"Honestly, my experience at Greeneview was very similar to my time at SSU," Jones said. "I made sure to stay on top of my academics, athletics, and involvement in the school and community. Greeneview was a small school where everybody knew everybody and the teachers and people cared about you. My coaches, teachers, and teammates were perfect in high school. Each one of them pushed me in different ways to get better, and they made high school really enjoyable for me. I am still in regular contact with some teachers and I talk with my coaches and teammates frequently."
With his work ethic clear, it was only a matter of time before his hard work paid off with a shot to play at the next level. Jones' high school coach, Bob Eakins, and former SSU assistant coach Mark Trapp had a relationship that predated Jones' time at Greeneview. This, as a result, helped Jones find his future college path.
"I got to know (Mark) Trapp through (Bob) Eakins who was my high school coach," Jones said. "They have known each other for years, and have had a very close relationship. My high school has sent a few players to play at SSU in the past, and they all have enjoyed it. I got to know (Ron) Goodson better once I finally got to campus. After visiting SSU during my senior year of high school, I got the same feeling from when I was in high school, and I just knew that SSU was the right fit for me."
During his freshman year at SSU, Jones played a solid role, becoming one of only two freshmen on the unit to start at least seven games for the Bears' soccer program while filling in admirably on the backline due to injuries that depleted SSU of its depth in that area.
This, however, allowed Jones to be more prepared when his sophomore campaign came around.
"A few injuries on the backline my freshman year led to me getting a lot of playing time and learning from the upperclassmen," Jones said. "During my sophomore year, the role changed because we lost a lot of seniors and had a lot of freshmen coming in. I had to be a leader on the backline being the only one with previous experience during that time, and it was hard to help the team since I was still young myself. However, I learned from this experience, and I made sure to be better by my senior year."
Over his final three seasons of play, Jones appeared in 53 of Shawnee State's 57 contests, and by his senior season, was named as a captain for the entire unit. He later became one of just five players to appear in each of SSU's 19 contests during the fall and started 17 of the 19 affairs despite dealing with various injuries.
However, it was his mental toughness to fight through those nagging difficulties, among other strong qualities, that gave him the coveted title of captain in the first place.
"Being named captain was a great honor, and it was something that I didn't take lightly," Jones said. "I made sure to lead by example, and give everything that I had at all times for the team. I tried to help the underclassmen with some of the things that I had learned while playing at SSU, and I hope that it was good advice to help them in the future, as well. Contributing on the backline was a great experience for me at SSU."
Much like at Greeneview, Jones has continued to remain involved, joining the chemistry club during his freshman year and serving as a pre-med club member during all four years of his college career -- all while finishing with a 3.77 GPA as an undergrad. As a result of his dedication to his studies off of the pitch, Jones was named to the 2019 Champions of Character Team on the behalf of the SSU men's soccer program.
"Representing SSU meant a lot to me both on the field and in the classroom," Jones said. "I always took pride in doing my best and always learning to get better, both academically and athletically. I wanted to lead by example for the team, and show the supporters of SSU that the student-athletes make sure to do well on the field and in the classroom. We all try to do our best and give it everything we have to represent our school. Being able to excel academically wouldn't have been possible without the amazing professors at SSU. The academic curriculum at SSU was challenging enough to push myself harder than I normally would have for a class, and it was a good learning experience to figure out what it takes for me to retain material for a class."
With his journey at SSU complete, Jones is looking forward to representing Shawnee State in a strong manner as he continues his studies. He'll certainly utilize what he's learned from his teammates, coaches, teachers and friends as his career takes its next step -- and he won't forget about them, either.
"The people I have met at SSU mean the world to me," Jones said. "From my freshman year to my senior year, I have met a lot of people and each person was different but brought something different to the table. It was great to get to know about the area around SSU from some of my local classmates and friends, but it was also cool to learn about other parts of Ohio or the country where I haven't been before. Everyone has different experiences and stories to tell, and each one was a great way to learn about friends or places."
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