Competitive nature defines Jones

Jones wasn’t even considering coming to Minnesota until her father insisted that she visit.

by Mark Heise

Junior middle blocker Jessy Jones is the leading blocker for Minnesota’s volleyball team this season, thanks in part to her extremely competitive nature.

Considering this, it might be a surprise to most that her other love is cooking.

Jones’ fiery nature was highly sought after in multiple sports as colleges recruited her for both volleyball and basketball. And while Jones was unsure of which sport to pursue, the Chicago native was sure of one thing: She wasn’t coming to Minnesota.

“I never really even thought of Minnesota as an option until my dad made me take a courtesy visit,” she said. “But as soon as I stepped onto the campus, it just felt like home. People asked me, ‘Why Minnesota?’ Why not here? I don’t know.”

The outspoken middle blocker joined the Gophers for her freshman year and, according to senior libero Malama Peniata, was quiet as a newcomer.

“She was really quiet at first,” Peniata said. “But after the first two weeks, she snapped out of that and she’s been talking ever since.”

Jones’ general loud nature has been more of a blessing to the team, as the junior has been not only a good teammate, but a good friend as well.

“She’s a genuine friend,” sophomore middle blocker Kelly Schmidt said. “She’s someone you can always count on for anything and she’s always around when you need her.”

But Schmidt doesn’t deny Jones’ intense competitive nature. The fellow Chicago native recounted friendly arguments about the Cubs and the White Sox.

A brief squabble over baseball isn’t the only area where Jones’ intensity is noticed. Teammates readily recalled games of Phase Ten, Scrabble and Monopoly becoming much more entertaining as Jones began to lose.

Jones just smiled and shrugged at these recent memories.

“I hate to lose,” she explained.

That competitiveness was something coach Mike Hebert said he was looking for and the coach-player relationship has been strong throughout Jones’ career.

“Jones is so outgoing, you never have to wonder where she is, just follow the voice,” Hebert joked. “She’s great to be around and her aggressive behavior has been an asset to the team. She plays on emotions and, when she’s feeling it, she’s as good as there is.”

Competitiveness is common among athletes, but Jones mixes in a different interest – cooking.

A chef at her parents’ Italian-style restaurant back home, Jones has developed her hobby of making food. While seemingly unusual for her personality, the skill has become very useful, as she now lives on her own and doesn’t like macaroni and cheese.

As for the personality clash, Jones said she has two different sides.

“I definitely have a competitive side,” she said. “But I also have friends who I see outside of volleyball who don’t think I would even hurt a fly. I think it’s a good mix, just as long as one doesn’t get in the way of the other.”

The multitalented Jones said she hopes to become a teacher and, with the way her teammates described Jones’ character, the multiple personas of chef and athlete should not be a problem.

“Jessy Jones is definitely a source of entertainment,” Schmidt said. “She’s the louder girl in a room, but in a good way. She’s always making people laugh and smile, and I think a lot of people look up to her because of her friendship.”