Colin and David,
It is hard to believe that it is coming to an end, that we have seen you, Randy, Jeremy and Kyle in a St. Thomas uniform for the last time. We are always warned that four years can come and go in the blink of an eye, but even so it seems amazing how quickly the time has flown by in this instance. As I think back on those four years, a number of basketball related memories come immediately to mind.
I recall a gym in Pearland where I sat on the bench before the start of a game, knowing without a doubt that we were going to win because we had sophomores Colin and David Jones. Knowing that despite the rankings of the players on the other team, these two sophomores would not let us lose.
My confidence that day was actually rooted in an earlier memory, one of a summer league game that was played when you were in elementary school. The league was for players four or five years older than you, but your brother AJ signed you up because he thought you could handle it. He was right. Not intimidated and not flinching despite being the youngest players on the court, at one point you made four or five passes on a fast break to each other without taking a dribble. It was a play made possible by what some call the “twin connection”, and it was a play that any basketball purist would love. That was my first realization of what special talents you would eventually grow into.
The leadership, poise, heart and desire that you exhibited all those years ago became evident to all who watched you compete as St. Thomas Eagles. We had some great memories at Reckling Gymnasium. How about our finish over Westside at the HISD tournament your sophomore year or the win over Lewisville in Plano? It will be hard to forget the rally you helped spur in our first round playoff game your senior year: when it seemed that our season was over, you helped us stay together though all the craziness and pull out a win. With the uncertainty surrounding the future of the rivalry game with Strake Jesuit, there’s no telling how long we’ll able to say that David’s lay-up is the last basket that was scored in the rivalry and Colin’s free throw was the last point scored, securing your third consecutive victory over the Crusaders.
However, there is more to your story than statistics and athletic accolades. Those who got to know you personally were equally impressed with how well you represented what it means to be a Man of St. Thomas. I was inspired to write this letter to share with others a particularly unique aspect of your story, namely your family’s legacy with St. Thomas and their role in helping prepare you for what you were able to accomplish together.
Father Wilson is a legendary figure in St. Thomas lore, beloved and renowned for the significant role he played in the history of the school. I encourage anyone who has not done so to read the inscription on his plaque at the baseball field named in his honor. I would bet a lot of people don’t know that your grandmother worked for Father Wilson for over a decade and that she positively impacted a lot of the current faculty, staff, and alumni. Your aunt worked for Father Wilson too, even making occasional trips to Canada to assist on school business. While he is a man I have never met, I know from others that speak so highly of him that he would have taken great joy in watching your play with fearlessness and unrelenting effort.
Your father is a proud St. Thomas alumnus with deep ties to the school. Current students might be surprised to learn that some of the trees you eat by every day were planted by him. The priests made “Snake” work hard in order to instill discipline in him, and years later he still thanks the school for the values it taught him, the same values he passed on to his sons. “A Jones doesn’t quit”. “A Jones is all in”. Not clichés but truths, on display for all to see on the gridiron, the diamond, the track, and the court. When your middle school team only lost one game in two years and the high school suitors started coming by, Snake stayed loyal. “My boys are going to St. Thomas,” is what he told them all. I, and everyone else in the St. Thomas community, am certainly glad he did.
Of course, your dad wasn’t the only family member who played a pivotal role in your development as student-athletes. There was also the shortstop at Sam Houston, the one with a national championship ring that earned a business degree. The unphased competitor with the quiet demeanor that took care of business in the classroom. Sound familiar, David? I hear you in particular take after your mom. AJ also left a mark at St. Thomas for you both to live up to. A hard-nosed competitor in his own right, he won a state championship in two different sports.
In closing, I want to thank you. Thank you for things that all Eagle sports fans saw: the way you performed in big games, the back door lay ups made possible by the “twin connection”, and the memorable postseason run this last season. Thank you for the things that mattered behind the scenes: the pride you had in your team, the program and the Reckling Rowdies; the toughness and competitiveness that provided a spark and inspired your teammates; all the practices, drills, and sprints when there were no fans to cheer you on.
You were the first two players to tell me sorry after practice when my grandmother passed away. Most importantly, thank you for adding on to the phenomenal legacy your family has built at St. Thomas High School.
Forever grateful on behalf of St. Thomas,