Despite no soccer at EHS, Jones signs on to Baker team
Eudora's Carolyn Jones will play soccer at Baker in the fall without ever putting on a high school uniform.
With Eudora not fielding a team, Jones has played in the Kaw Valley Soccer Association in Lawrence for the last five years. Last week, she entered the collegiate level, signing a letter of intent with the Wildcats.
Jones' abilities against her competition in the nine-team KVSA may have caught the Baker coaches' eyes. Jones and foreign exchange student Solveig Madison are the only two girls out of 159 players in the spring league. Because high school soccer is in the spring, Lawrence and Free State girls' soccer members played in a fall league with Jones as well.
Jones, a forward and midfielder, said the two leagues gave her a nice balance of experience.
"Oddly enough, the girls are more physical and the guys are more fast-paced," Jones said. "It was weird going from all girls to mostly guys, but the experience helped."
A cross country runner at Eudora High all four years, Jones said soccer is her main interest. She came to Eudora from Kansas City, Mo., five years ago after playing in leagues there since she was six years old.
Jones' drive to play soccer has also driven her between Eudora and Lawrence repeatedly. She made the commute for daily practices and weekly games, something Jones met with mixed feelings.
"I wish I didn't have to drive 30 minutes every day," Jones said. "But it was good to meet all the different coaches and players. I enjoyed playing on those teams."
Frank Travato, KVSA director of coaching and player development, said the trips down K-10 are one of Jones' defining attributes.
"She's committed to something significant," Travato said. "Driving and practicing away from home takes up a great deal of time," Travato said.
Travato said other mental advantages for Jones are her learning attitude and her ability to see the field well.
Physically, Travato said Jones' defining characteristics are her speed and passing abilities, along with dribbling skills.
"She's done well making it to the next step," Travato said. "She'll work hard to find all the success she wants."
Jones also had an offer from Emporia State, but the Hornets are entering their first year as a varsity sport. She opted for Baker, which has fielded a women's team for a few more years.
Coach Brandon Barkus will begin his second year at Baldwin City in the fall. He guided the Wildcats to a 9-9 season last year.
Baker begins practice Aug. 12 with two-a-days. The Wildcats will play as far away as Colorado and Arizona. Baker also competes against local colleges, including rival Benedictine in Atchinson.