GBI Magazine

Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 28 Digital 3

Gold and Black is a multi-platform media company that covers Purdue athletics like no one else.

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 74 of 81

GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 28, ISSUE 3 75 "When you talk training, I'm al- ways trying to increase power, explo- siveness, get athletes stronger and to become more athletic in their sport," said Jones, a Toronto native. "But as a coach, it's more than that to me. I really believe in relationships. "I have three pillars that I go back to every time with every team that I interact with: It's mind, body and spirit. So every time I'm putting a program together, I'm keeping those in mind. When I'm working on men- tal toughness, I'm trying to get them comfortable in tight situations and be able to perform. Every workout is built around that, getting the athlete to be comfortable outside their box. … Their body, that's the easy part. That's what we're trained for, trans- forming bodies, getting them to be more athletic and us- ing Olympic lifts, training the core, just everything that encompasses the weight room. Spirit is who they are as a student-athlete, what's their why, what motivates them. So, I always try to get to know the student-athlete on a personal basis, just so we have that relationships and we can build trust with one another and I can help them reach their goals." At A&M, that meant reaching a roster of about 13-15 basketball players. But seeking a bigger challenge, Jones took over a much broader in scope opportunity at Purdue, with more than 400 athletes across Olympic sports and basketball. Part of the task in West Lafayette has involved reshaping its entire program, like overseeing the conver- sion of Mollenkopf's weight room for use by Purdue's field programs, like baseball and softball, and the track teams. And the hiring of a 10-person staff of full-time employees, rather than four-year contract workers that Purdue used previously. And each of the 10 coaches oversees a maxi- mum of only two sports, meaning there's opportunity for one-on-one guidance and development. "I do rely on my assistants a lot, but I'm visible, I'm always around," Jones said. "In the fall, I was at track workouts at 6 in the morning. I'd watch soccer, watch vol- leyball, just being visible so they know who I am first, and then just strike up conversations with them. They are so open, they want people who care about them in their lives. So there's track kids who I'll stop in the hallway for five minutes, 'Hey, how's your day? What's going on?' Just letting them know that you're genuinely interested means a lot." It's those connections that drew Jones to strength and conditioning more than 20 years ago, at a time when op- portunities, particularly for women, were rare. When Jones was a sophomore at Michigan State, she had the first of her six children, then had to work her way back into playing shape. A graduate assistant on the foot- ball strength staff — the Spartans' volleyball team didn't have a conditioning program in the mid-90s — offered to help. "That's pretty much where it began, because it was like, 'Well, if it wasn't for this, I couldn't come back and play,'" Jones said. "So that drove me to seek it out a little bit further." After spending time at East Carolina as a limited-earn- ings volleyball assistant, then strength and condition- ing graduate assistant, Jones got her first full-time job at Houston in 1997. She was part of only a two-person staff for the Cougars and one of only three or four wom- en working in strength and conditioning NCAA programs nationally. That's changed over the years, with more opportuni- ties for women as department staffs have grown, often- Charles Jischke Along with building better athletes, Jennifer Jones wants to built better relationships. She says they go hand-in-hand.

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of GBI Magazine - Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 28 Digital 3