Jocelyn Jones overcomes adversity and comes out stronger than ever
“Tearing my Achilles is the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”
By: Keeley Britt
Jocelyn Jones looked forward to becoming a Tar Heel all throughout high school. In her 8th grade year, she was recruited by UNC-Chapel Hill to play basketball.
“Carolina has just been a dream school,” she said. “I’ve been coming to camp here since I was little. I really fell in love with the campus, the coaches, just the family style.”
People were shocked when she committed at thirteen years old. But, Jones’ impressive abilities to compete with and outshine high school players when she was only in middle school, caught Carolina’s eye.
Standing at 6 feet tall, Jones has a size advantage over many competitors playing her guard position. Her father stressed the importance of remaining a guard throughout her basketball career, although she was taller than most of her teammates. This has worked to her advantage when entering the collegiate level. Jones plays as a guard and continues to improve that aspect of her game while also playing forward sometimes. “Being able to do both is a huge advantage,” she said.
Having an Olympian for a mom, and a former college football player as a dad, Jones has a lot to live up to. “It was really tough because they expected a lot from me and my brother… They pretty much told me that they weren’t paying for college so I either had to find an athletic or academic scholarship,” she said. She doesn’t feel pressure from her family to succeed, but their success makes her want to work even harder to make them proud. “Now when I play it shows how much passion I have for the sport because I’m playing not only for myself, not only for Carolina, but also for my family back home to make them proud.”
In the midst of training for her first season as a Tar Heel, Jones faced an injury that would change her entire perspective. She tore her Achilles tendon, and as a result had to sit out the entire season.
“I was really heartbroken and it took me a while to accept what was going on,” she said. However, the adversity that Jones underwent made her even stronger than before. “So, I like to say…tearing my Achilles was the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” she said with a smile. “I couldn’t play basketball the game I love…so it just grew the love of the sport, the love of the game, so even though I was sitting on the sideline, I was soaking up everything.”
Jones would analyze the game, break down film, and find creative ways to help her teammates. All this improved her basketball IQ. “Even though I never played I still have IQ insight on the game so when I come back next year, I know how the speed is and the ways I have to play at the next level,” Jones said.
From her initial devastating thoughts of missing an entire season, Jones quickly transformed her outlook into a positive one. Her injury has made her more appreciative of the sport and caused her to take advantage of every minute that she gets to play the game she loves. “Now in practice I’m giving it my all every day, every time I have a chance to get better,” she said.
Jones has had to face adversity through her injury, but she set a goal to come back stronger than before, and has done exactly that. “Figure out what your goal is and just find 10 different ways to get there… because that’s definitely how I had to adjust.”
There wasn’t a doubt in Jones’ mind that she would come back from this injury, and now she looks forward to her upcoming ‘comeback season’ this year. During hard trainings or lifting sessions, she often mentally reminds herself that nothing could be worse than the pain she felt after tearing her Achilles. “Reminding myself of that has definitely made me stronger and really strong minded,” Jones said.
Jones has high expectations of herself and her team. When asked what her goals for the season are, she immediately said: “To win.” She believes her team could be at the top of the ACC. “I just have a lot of lofty goals that I don’t think we can’t reach.”
Entering this season off her injury, Jones is pushing her teammates to have the same mindset she has.
“Hopefully I can be that spark to kind of get us going,” she said. “I told them I’m not coming back to the same team, so already our mindset is totally different.”
As a spirited player on and off the court, Jones embodies the qualities of a role model. “I want you to be the best you that you can be,” when asked what advice she would give to young athletes. “You can take my work ethic, you can see how I eat, how I train and everything, but apply it to yourself to be the best YOU that you can be.”