By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Munford has seen its share of sporting legends.
Names like Aaron Fultz, Cody Overbeck, Keith Hardaway, Jasmine Brown, Cali Overbeck, Buck Wakefield and Sami Jo Shultz are just a few who brought team and individual success to Tipton County.
But the most iconic student/athlete to sport a Munford uniform was Johnie Jones. Jones would go on to set records at The University of Tennessee and play in the NFL.
With so many accolades, Jones stood next to his wife Trena in sharing his greatest contribution to Munford Athletics on National Signing Day 2016 when his daughter Johnna signed to play basketball at Christian Brothers University.
Johnna has been a three-year standout for Head Coach Steve Poindexter guiding the Lady Cougars to district titles and Regional Tournament appearances.
“I definitely think there’s been a ton of growth,” Poindexter noted. “She’s worked really hard. I think anybody who has been around our program and sees her now know she has grown up. She’s a leader for our team.
“She gets to see it pay off,” he continued. “That’s what we’re seeing right now. This is an opportunity for her to not only get to play basketball but get a good education. Puts her in the right direction. She’s definitely deserving of it. She’s going to make an impact at that program and represent Munford really well.”
Johnna will join CBU Lady Bucs to play for Sarah Condra in the Gulf South Coast. Condra got a chance to see Jones shine as a two-sport standout in basketball and track. Jones was recruited in basketball by schools like Marshall University and Youngstown. But she selected CBU because of the team structure and campus environment.
Jones gained attention across the nation earning MVP in District 13-3A last season and helping the Lady Cougars reach the Regional Semifinals.
Watching Jones mature from a freshman to a senior leader, Poindexter said she never let any type criticism or pressure of living up to Johnnie break her.
“I don’t know what type of pressure that would put on a young lady,” he said. “I think she has taken her own path and not tried to live up to those expectations. She has her own expectations and she does the best she can. I think that’s gotten her to this point. I never sensed she was under some kind of added pressure because who her Dad is.
“I think she’s in a great situation because her Dad was a great athlete and he knows what it takes to be successful,” Poindexter added. “She’s in a place where she is getting really good guidance. She just works the hardest to be the best Johnna Jones she can be.”
Becoming the best Johnna Jones started out of necessity in the Jones household.
“When she was a little girl, the only reason I put a basketball in her hand because she couldn’t get her right hand, left hand,” Trena recalled. “Now she could get her right foot, left foot. She never put her shoes on backwards.
“But she could never get her right hand/left hand,” she added. “So my sister said give her a basketball. Then it was right hand, left hand. She started when she was 3 years old. She would walk the squares in our driveway going, ‘Right hand, left hand, right hand, left hand.’ That’s where basketball started.”
The basketball gravitated into Johnna becoming a star at Munford Middle School. When she finally arrived on the Munford High School campus there were some big expectations.
“Coach and my teammates got me to play as a team,” Johnna noted. “My middle school years were different. They made me become a team-player. In elementary school I would play ball, I never was a team player. When my Dad told me I wasn’t going to get anywhere if I did that, I had to dig down and try to pass the ball.”
Johnnie was always near for advice and training. Mother was there for game instructions and hitting the recruiting trail.
“In the gym, her work ethic and the mind set I could see it changing from year to year to year,” Trena said. “It’s her choice. She’s in the gym almost everyday.
“When we visited Christian Brothers, now she loved Marshall,” she added. “That was a choice for her along with Youngstown and Christian Brothers. But when she went to Christian Brothers, the classrooms and the professors. The professors were like ‘We’ll help you and we’ll come see you play.’ That’s what influenced her to go to CBU.”
Johnna said she likes the support system at CBU on and off the court. It took a strong supporting cast to help Johnna reach her dream of playing college basketball including her Dad.
“The first thing he did, he was never telling me anything wrong,” she said. “He always made me get into the weight room. I was always lifting weights with him.
“But he never told me wrong and that helped me along the way,” Johnna continued. “He told me how the recruiting was going to go. How they were going to come up to you and how that pressure was going to hit you when you come up to senior year.”
Like her father she got the recruiting process done. Johnna added her name to the legendary list of Munford Greats.
“She was always her own person,” Johnnie said. “Now she would ask me about certain things but when it came down to it she knew what it took to get to the next level. She would watch film. We would have to get on her about that, ‘Go to bed now.’
“Regardless of what you do, when you hit the floor just play hard,” he concluded. “You’ve got to be ready. When you get our there you give 110 percent whether a game or practice. Because what you do out there in practice will carry over to game-time. You lollygag in practice it will catch up to you in the game regardless.”
By Thomas Sellers Jr.