Having transferred to Plattsburgh State for her sophomore year and anticipating an early graduation in 2019, the Cardinals’ track and field athlete Marissa Jones takes a positive attitude into her final season of collegiate athletics.
Jones, a 19-year-old sophomore from Sauquoit, New York – a hamlet of about 4,700 located less than 10 miles from Utica – joined the PSUC cross country and track teams this year after spending her freshman year at Mohawk Valley Community College.
“This is her first time away from home, but she did tremendous here adapting to a new team and a new coach,” said Nicholas Jones, PSUC head coach.
One of the biggest draws for Jones was proximity to the Adirondacks. She loves outdoor activities, especially swimming, hiking and camping, scaling five of the 46 Adirondack High Peaks so far.
“I’m three hours closer to the mountains than I would be if I’d stayed home,” Jones said.
The Cards were a familiar team for Jones because her brother was 2017 graduate Kyle Jones.
After transferring, Marissa Jones was surprised by the step up in class work at PSUC.
The psychology major, recently elected as vice president of the Psychology Club, plans to graduate at the end of her junior year. She will take the GRE over the summer in anticipation of applying to Syracuse University and SUNY Albany.
Jones is open to becoming either a Licensed Mental Health Counselor or a social worker and will intern in social work at the University of Vermont Health Network’s Champlain Valley Physicians’ Hospital in Plattsburgh.
While getting control of her academics, Jones also succeeded on the track. At Saturday’s SUNYAC Championships, her time of 0:57.48 in the 400-meter dash tied a personal record and placed her second in the conference, despite some late-season obstacles.
“It’s been pretty tough,” Jones said. “I got the flu a couple weeks ago, so that was a hit to my season. And then I got a little bit of a hamstring injury. It’s been as positive as it could be.”
Jones’ main goal for next season is to bring her personal record in the 400 under 57 seconds.
Jones has chosen not to participate in the upcoming All-Atlantic Regional Conference Championships at SUNY Brockport in order to focus on her final exams.
One person not surprised about Jones’ success is her father, Doug Jones.
“She’s a pretty determined person,” Doug Jones said.
Marissa Jones’ love for running started early, but almost ended as soon as it began.
Doug Jones recalled his daughter’s first race, a quarter-mile kids’ run at the Utica Boilermaker road race, in which she was accidentally placed with five year olds when she was actually seven. Despite winning by a significant margin, the experience nearly convinced the young runner to never race again.
“She broke down crying because she was embarrassed,” Doug Jones said.
Since that experience, Marissa Jones has become both comfortable and confident on the track.
“She surprised her mother and I,” Doug Jones said. “She had played soccer all the way up through, and then she got to middle school and said ‘I’m going to do track.’ We never saw that coming.”
She takes the same approach to track that she does in the classroom: positivity.
“I’ m really positive, and I like to encourage myself and others,” Jones said. “But I also don’t take anything from anyone. If you’re doing something to me or to others that I don’t like, I will tell you. I think my ability to be so confident in myself and to bring myself up when I’m not feeling confident works well in athletics and in academics.”
The confidence is balanced by Marissa Jones’ self-described “laid-back” demeanor. When she is not outside, Jones is usually watching Netflix, most recently completing “Gossip Girl,” although she named another show as her favorite.
“I love to have my time to sit in my room, watch ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ have a snack and just relax,” Jones said.
Marissa Jones does not have much time for a job between track and school, but she plans to make up for it in the summer by returning to her job at a locally owned breakfast diner and ice cream shop near her home.
From a seven-year-old girl who was embarrassed by winning her first race to a collegiate athlete exceling on the track and in the classroom, Marissa Jones has grown in many ways while maintaining a positive outlook along the way.
“She really seems to have a built self-discipline,” Doug Jones said. “She has matured into an all-around quality young lady.”
Email Nathanael LePage at email@example.com