5 a.m. That's what time Jackie Jones' day begins. As a fifth year nursing student and soccer player at Catholic University, Jackie starts her weekday at INOVA Medical Center in Alexandria, Va. where she is completing her nursing clinical. She is currently on track to obtain her nursing degree in the spring of 2013. "My day usually begins around 5 a.m., and I work until around 1 or 2 in the afternoon." From there, Jones works, completes schoolwork, and then attends soccer practice from 6-8 p.m.
Jones' dedication and hard work does not go unnoticed by her teammates. Fellow senior Devon Flanagan is aware of how hard she works, "As a senior nursing major, we all know that she balances a large course load, a nursing clinical and the occasional night shift at Children's Hospital. While managing all this Jackie still shows up to practice and games ready to work hard regardless of what kind of day she had."
That is the schedule on a normal day; on game day or travel day her schedule can be much longer. While some may see that as an impossible schedule to maintain, Jones wouldn't trade it for anything and often uses it as extra motivation. The motivation that Jones exudes translates easily between the daily grind, and her mindset on the pitch. "I love this game. If you do not come into it with 100% then it's not worth it," said the senior defender.
Measuring at 5'3" and hailing from Scituate, Mass., the senior defender has certainly made a name for herself on and off the soccer field. Flanagan said of Jones, "Jackie shows her passion for the game and dedication to her team every time she steps on the field. More than working hard, Jackie encourages her teammates and is always there to offer advice or guidance."
CUA women's soccer coach JP Sousa describes Jones as "not the tallest player on the field, but she is certainly one of the toughest." Like most players, Jones has her own unique story in which she has overcome every challenge that she has faced at CUA.
One of the most unique aspects of Jones' career at Catholic as Coach Sousa noted, is that she is now in her fifth season making her the first fifth-year player at Catholic during Sousa's nine year tenure. Sousa knows just how special it is to have her saying, "Most of our student-athletes get their degree in four years but Jackie's journey was different. We are very lucky to have her for the extra year."
Jones has faced both athletic and academic challenges in five years but she has created positives out of the adversity that she faced. Her sophomore season ended prematurely due to an injury, but her teammates continued on to win the Landmark Conference championship. While she may not have been able to be on the field with her team, Jones still sees it as her biggest accomplishment up to this point at CUA. "The preseason, traveling, practice, and everything else that went into that season made the celebration worth it."
Jones missed the 2010 season in entirety due to an academic matter that caused her to become a part-time student. During this time, Jones was no stranger to the program while working just blocks away from campus at Providence Hospital. Spending the year away from the field only fueled Jones' desire to return to school as a full time student and continue her soccer career with two years of her eligibility remaining.
In 2011, Jones made her return to the CUA program, starting 16 of the 18 games that she played in. At this point, she was determined and focused to look forward to the future. Jones no longer thought about her injuries, "I knew that I couldn't go out on the field scared. I had to play without thinking about my knee."
Jones' leadership skills have also grown tremendously during her time at CUA. Sophomore Tricia Collucci, who plays alongside her on the defensive line, says, "Jackie's game of consistent, technically sound soccer and constant encouragement has gone a long way to lead us."
Coach Sousa sees Jones as a leader whose work ethic and knowledge of the game is something that the younger players look to, and Colluci agrees, "Her leading by example has motivated me to persevere and to always raise the level of play."
Moving into 2012, now her senior season, CUA's women's soccer team consists of nine freshmen and Jones sees this as an opportunity to lead by example. Freshman defender Maddy Thompson emphasizes that point stating, "Jackie helped me learn the positioning that I should have as an outside left back and she did this in the most positive way possible."
Jones sees this season as an opportunity for growth for the team. "While the record may not reflect it, we have grown and we will continue to grow. The challenges that we have faced will only make us better."
Off the field, Jones is completing her senior year in nursing as well. She has learned how to manage her time effectively to maintain a high level in the classroom and on the field. "I actually find myself doing better during the season because my focus is much more intense. I have to manage my time so much more effectively during the season."
Coach Sousa would agree with that assessment, "She sets sights on attainable goals and finds the best path for her to get everything done on time and to the best of her abilities."
Looking back on her career, Jones knows that she is a winner; her team has played in the Landmark Conference championship match each season she has been on the team, winning the title in 2009. Off the field, Jones will graduate from the Catholic University School of Nursing in May 2013.
While her time at CUA may have been longer than she initially expected, Jones has created a path for herself that will allow her to reach her goals. Her day may begin before the sunrise and end after sundown on most days during the fall, but Jones' love for the game and her future makes those long hours worth it.
- Story written by Vicky Berry, CUA Office of Athletic Communications