The mission of the Beyond Sports Foundation is to use the power of sport to transform lives by turning athletic ability into life opportunity. Our focus is to prepare student-athletes to succeed in life.
Naquan Jones is one of those student-athletes – a four-star defensive tackle from Evanston High School. Jones joined the Beyond Sports Foundation in April of his sophomore year of high school, a critical time in his high school academic career. He learned that, unless he received two A’s in credit recovery courses that summer, he wouldn’t be eligible to play football as a junior. This was a tall order considering that academics had not typically been Jones’ top priority.
However, Jones spent every weekday of the summer of 2014 at the Beyond Sports Foundation working one-on-one with tutor Suzanne Zweig. His dedication and the foundation’s support paid off – Jones received those two A’s. Jones played football his junior year of high school with the Evanston Wildkits and had a great season, resulting in twenty college scholarship offers from major division one schools such as Ohio State, University of Michigan, Michigan State, and Florida. Jones committed to play in the fall of 2016 for the Michigan State Spartans.
As time went on, Jones’ fairy tale story was looking less promising as his academics began to slip again throughout the course of his junior and senior years of high school. The issue wasn’t whether Jones was going to be able to play at Michigan State; the issue was whether he would be eligible to attend the school at all. Once again, in the summer after graduation, Jones was told he would have to take credit recovery courses and was required to take four courses and receive no less than three A’s and one B. Just as Jones had done at the Beyond Sports Foundation two years earlier, he focused on the priority at hand. With the help of tutor Jessica Ilc, Jones has spent every weekday this summer at the Beyond Sports Foundation working on his assignments.
As the courses come to a close with the deepening heat of summer, Jones has realized he has achieved much more than his goal of successful completion and strong grades in these classes. Throughout this journey, he has matured into manhood. He has been reflective and taken personal responsibility for the place he is in and how he got here, for his strengths and his inadequacies, and has put a plan in place to succeed at Michigan State.
As Henry Ward Beecher Said, “We should not judge people by their peak of excellence, but by the distance they have traveled from the point where they started.”