Checking in with local athletes amid COVID-19: Paige Jones

By: 
Seth Kinker
Sports Editor

Sports are on hold around the country as COVID-19 is being addressed. In the upcoming weeks, The Community Post will be checking in with local athletes and coaches that continued their athletic careers after high school and how COVID-19 is effecting them in their respective sport.

This week, The Community Post caught up with New Bremen graduate Paige Jones.

After a fantastic career for the Cardinals, Jones, a four-year letter winner, state champion and record holder in the state of Ohio for kills in a match and in a season, just wrapped up her sophomore year playing volleyball for the Michigan Wolverines.

Jones started all 32 contests this season, leading the team with five 20-plus kill matches with a team high 10 kill-dig double doubles. She led the team in kills 22 times and digs six times over the course of the season including a 26-kill showing against rival Michigan State on Nov. 6.

In addition to increasing her attack percentage from last year, Jones led the team in kills per set, kills (463) and service aces (39) on the way to earning a first team selection on the All-Big Ten Conference team, academic Big Ten, 2019 AVCA All-American Third Team and 2019 AVCA All-North Region First Team honors.  

After a fantastic freshman campaign, Jones continued to improve this year.

“It was different from high school and even club (volleyball), it was a lot faster paced,” said Jones of her baptism to collegiate volleyball. “Girls were a lot bigger. I had a great upperclassman that was a senior that was in my position that helped me adapt. It was a roller coaster ride at the beginning but after adjusting and getting a couple games under my belt it felt better.”

Defensive passing was a point of emphasis for Jones this offseason and she told The Community Post she felt she was making good progress until the coaching staff came into practice early last month and told them they couldn’t practice anymore due to the pandemic.

“I remember exactly what we were doing,” said Jones. “A three-person warmup and our coach came in and said, ‘alright everybody go and meet in the team room.’ It was bizarre that it happened in the middle of practice and that we had to stop.”

About a week later, the university sent students home to complete the spring semester virtually.

This year their season ended on Dec. 7, normally, the team has time off until after holiday break before starting again in the new year.

About a week or so into the new year, the team begins eight hour weeks of sanctioned contact until mid-February. That time is filled with lifting twice a day and individual skill training mixed in with team practice.

In the middle of February, it switches over to 20-hour weeks which leads to more team-based activities in addition to continued lifting.

“Just really starting to form the 2020 team,” said Jones of the offseason process. “Obviously, that got cut short. We were really disappointed with that, we thought that we were making good progress. At the moment we’re just trying to better ourselves while were home. Our goal right now is to get a good base for us when we come back in the fall. We want to make sure our cardio is good so we don’t have to stop practice and take a lot of breaks because were tired.”

“I was really looking forward to setting the culture for the 2020 season,” added Jones. “It’s always interesting to see because the culture and dynamic changes every year. Last year was different from my freshman year, it was cool to see and I was excited to form that bond and culture.”

Majoring in Sport Management and minoring in Graphic Design at Michigan, Jones just recently completed final exams that turned into projects and papers as a result of the pandemic. She told The Community Post she was excited to learn more about the sporting field from a business standpoint and is happy to have exams completed.

With NCAA rules prohibiting coaches from being in the gym with players over the summer, most of the team was planning to take spring classes and get together in the gym to start forming chemistry but now that’s all up in the air with the uncertain timeline ahead.

Since being home the team has done Zoom session together with different days focused on different aspects whether that be strength and conditioning, leadership or a bevy of other categories.

Other than volleyball, Jones has been painting her sisters room and finding projects to do around thee house.

“I also found our old Wii boxed up in our basement so I got that out and have been playing that” said Jones. “surprised it still works honestly. Besides that, school has been going on so that was my main focus.”

Sport related wise, Jones herself has been doing a hit and ab workouts while waiting for the weather to clear up so she can run outside. From a volleyball standpoint, Jones told The Community Post it’s been a difficult time not being able to play.

“Since I can remember, this is the longest time I haven’t been able to actually compete and play and it’s driving me crazy,” said Jones. “I’ve never wanted to play volleyball so much more than I do right now. My club season finished at the end of June and school volleyball would have already been started. I was doing volleyball pretty much all year round.”