It has been said that soccer goalkeepers are a special breed of players – the ones who willingly place themselves as the last line of defense in keeping the ball out of the net.
And while Orange Lutheran senior goalkeeper Jude Jones always enjoys the chance to singlehandedly ruin his opponent’s day, it is the team aspect of soccer that originally drew him to the sport.
“It’s the ability to accomplish things as a team, especially in my position, and to feel like I helped the team accomplish a win,” says Jones. “That feeling of camaraderie makes me love it so much. I get to enjoy wins, losses – anything – with my teammates. We’re there together through it all.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic forced Jones away from soccer last spring, his parents reminded him that how he used the unplanned time off could be a defining moment for him in the sport.
“I think for teenagers it’s hard to keep motivated when everything is shut down,” says the 18-year old. “My parents played a really big role in keeping me motivated.”
With new OLu boys soccer head coach Jon Spencer now at the helm, Jones is excited to help usher in a new chapter of Lancer soccer. As a senior leader, the two-year varsity player feels that pushing his teammates to be at their best while still having fun is at the forefront of success.
“From my first day coaching, Jude has been fully committed to our program,” says Spencer. “He has been a great leader among the players and has been willing to put in the hard work required to be a great player. He is a Christ-centered example for all.”
For his final high school season, Jones hopes the team works together and leaves it all out on the pitch.
“When you play for your high school, and you have your friends watching on the sideline, you almost feel like a bond to the school and the people in [it],” says Jones. “You’re playing for them. It’s a sense of accomplishment to say I played for Orange Lutheran High School.”
With so few goalkeepers across the sport, the competition that comes with vying for one of those coveted spots has kept Jones grounded and focused.
“For me it’s not letting your emotions get the best of you, especially as a goalkeeper,” says Jones. “Taking that to life, when bad things happen, you have to stay grounded, keep focused and move on.”
Jones’ next step in his soccer career will take him to Loyola Marymount University where he will play for the Lions and possibly study business. He credits his parents for setting the right example for him as a student athlete and for modeling what it means to achieve all he can be.
And no matter the challenges ahead, Jones takes comfort in the fact that having God on his side will keep him on the right path.
“It’s knowing that I’m playing for something greater than myself and that I’m not alone in what I’m doing,” says Jones. “I’m playing for a God that cares for me and loves me. I know that no matter what happens, he’s going to be right there with me, and he’s going to push me through.”