March 18, 2013
There are two sides to Shannon Jones.
Shannon Jones the student describes herself as friendly, happy all the time and never angry. All this changes when she steps on the field.
"On the field, I am very different," Jones said. "I get a different look in my eyes; there's a different passion."
Jones was recently named MAAC Preseason Player of the Year and selected as one of 30 national candidates for the Senior CLASS Award. Last year, she shared the conference's top honor after enjoying the best season in the history of the Siena softball program.
When asked how she attained this success, Jones points to her tireless preparation in the off-season.
"It was hard because I was stuck inside because it was cold, but I worked out with my teammates in the fall, lifted and ran and hit with my dad," Jones said.
Before the season, she listed goals for herself and her teammates. At the top of the list was winning the MAAC Championship, something Siena softball has never accomplished. The personal accomplishments will come, she will likely crush all of the program's career offensive marks this year, but that's secondary.
When speaking with Jones, you can see the resemblance to her favorite professional athlete, Peyton Manning. Off the field, Peyton is known to be a great guy, but when it's game time it's like there's another person on the field.
Jones, the reigning Siena College Female Student Athlete of the Year, remains humble and prides herself on being a leader of a young team that only consists of two seniors: herself and outfielder Mandy Ferro. She considers herself an "extreme music nerd" and a "sucker for oldies." Her I-Pod is filled with classics like Billy Joel's "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant."
"We have a spunky, young team this year, and you can tell that they love the game," Jones said.
Jones traveled less distance to Siena than pretty much any student athlete, but her impact has been greater than most. She was a three-sport star in volleyball, basketball and softball at nearby Troy High School, and has been playing softball since she was five.
Jones has been inspired by her sister who has battled a physical condition, but persevered to play three sports. Watching her sister is what drives her to work hard. Jones said the best advice she ever received was: "stop making excuses, there is nothing you cannot do."
The determination Jones has is what separates her from other athletes at Siena and across the country.
A great example of her clutch play came on the final weekend of the regular-season last year when the Saints needed a sweep for a chance to qualify for the Championships. Jones hit the game-winning homerun and grabbed the school single-season hit record in the process.
"That moment still gives me chills," Jones said. But the Saints didn't qualify for the Tournament, leaving one major goal to accomplish.
With the new season underway, the sky is the limit for Jones and the Saints. She's determined to go out a winner.
Jones was recently selected as one of just 13 student athletes nationally to receive the 2013-14 NCAA Women's Enhancement Scholarship for Careers in Athletics. She plans to use the $6,000 grant to attend Sage College's Doctorate of Physical Therapy Graduate Program. She's already been accepted. Of course, there's always the possibility that her success on the field could lead to a professional career overseas.
~ Jarrel Harris is a junior English major at Siena