Photo: Etowah High School senior Anna Jones recently signed a letter of intent to play volleyball and basketball at Calhoun Community College in Decatur. Pictured, sitting, from left: dad William, Anna, mom Carolyn. Standing, from left: EHS assistant volleyball coach Meredith Jones, EHS girls basketball coach Ryan McCoy, Calhoun volleyball coach Jamie Freeman, EHS volleyball head coach Malory Munroe. (Chris McCarthy/Messenger)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
Not too long ago, Anna Jones was not sure if she wished to extend her athletic career beyond high school.
As it turned out, Jones will compete in not one but two sports at the next level.
On May 24, the Etowah High senior signed a letter of intent to play both volleyball and basketball at Calhoun Community College. A four-sport athlete, Jones also competed in bowling and softball for the Blue Devils.
“If you would have asked me even a year ago, I probably wouldn’t have been ready,” said Jones, who plans on majoring in education at Calhoun. “But this year, I was depressed after each of my sports ended. So when opportunities started to come in, I started to think about it.”
Jones received offers from the University of Mobile and Bluefield State in West Virginia for bowling earlier this year before trying out for volleyball and basketball at Calhoun. It was love at first sight for Jones with Calhoun’s Decatur campus.
“I really liked everything about it; it really felt like home. Plus, it’s only an hour and a half away from home. The Calhoun coaches called back and offered me a full ride in both basketball and volleyball, so all those things that I thought I wasn’t going to do, I ended up doing.”
Since a student-athlete can only be offered a full scholarship in one sport at the junior college level, Jones will sign for volleyball but be covered financially in both sports.
Jones helped the 2021 Etowah volleyball team go 17-9, win the program’s first-ever area title and qualify for the Northeast Super Regional Tournament. Jones’ postseason honors included first team All-Area and All-Area Tournament.
“Anna is just an incredible person and player,” said EHS volleyball coach Malory Munroe. “She is the biggest encourager on our team and everyone’s cheerleader, both on and off the court. She’s a great senior and an awesome person to look up to. The younger girls will be ready for the upcoming season because of what Anna and the other seniors brought to the program. Anna will be missed but we’re very excited to see her play at the next level.”
Jones averaged 9.6 points and 6.2 rebounds this past basketball season.
“I can’t be any prouder of Anna,” said EHS girls basketball coach Ryan McCoy. “Before the [basketball] season, we talked about how important is would be for three of four seniors to step up and do some things they’ve never done, and Anna exceeded expectations. I had only two people who made every game and every practice, and Anna was one of them. I feel like that consistency will be a big help to her in college, especially playing two sports.”
McCoy provided an example of Jones’ physical and mental toughness when she sprained her ankle two days prior to the area tournament.
“She wrapped it up and didn’t missed a minute,” he said. “For Anna, her not being in there and doing her job was not an option. That’s something she can be proud of.”
McCoy also sees Jones contributing to the Lady Warhawks sooner than later.
“I can see Anna as a 20-minute [per game] kind who can rebound a lot. She’s got good size and she’s physical. Anna’s tough under the rim and has never shied away from any kind of contact. So I can see her stepping in and playing a lot as a freshman.”
EHS Principal Dr. Nate Ayers expressed his gratitude that Jones intends on becoming a high school educator and coach.
“Right now, teachers have the hardest job in this country. It’s a thankless profession, and to have a young lady who works as hard as Anna does who is willing to into that, it makes us extremely proud.”
“Even when I didn’t have confidence in myself, every single person in this room (at her signing) had confidence in me,” Jones added. “My coaches have been like my second parents and wouldn’t hesitate to help me in any situation. I know a lot of schools say it, but [Etowah] really has a family environment. Every single teacher here has loved me and treated me like their own kid. My goal as a teacher and a coach is to influence people like my teachers and coaches influenced me. I want to be a life-changer for people.”