Rage defensive captain comes full cycle in accepting award from Boys Club
As a young man, there was a lot going on around me that I simply didn't want to be a part of. The Matthews-Dickey Boys & Girls Club kept me away from all of that. It helped keep me focused, kept my head on straight, as they say, and I'm honored and proud to have been a part of it for so many years. This award tonight is like the chance to come home again."
RiverCity Rage defensive back and team captain Clarence CJ' Jones on Saturday night accepted a plaque that proclaimed him an Outstanding Alumni' of the Matthews-Dickey Boys & Girls Club, the organization that has helped and encouraged youth in the greater St. Louis area since the early 1960's. With programs in sports, leadership, after-school mentoring and even cooking and computer classes, the club has long been the constant in the lives of youth in the inner-city. And for Jones, a standout at both Parkway Central and the University of Missouri, it was the positive force that drove him to succeed and gives him the energy to want to reach out now and help kids just like himself.
"I see myself in so many of the young guys that are part of the program today. From the ages of 8 through 14, I was involved in all sports, not just football, and it not only kept me out of trouble and under the umbrella of positive forces. It provided me access to do things I otherwise never would have had the chance to do."
Some of those things are like travelling to Kentucky, Philadelphia and Kansas City to play baseball in the RBI League funded by the St. Louis Cardinals, or travelling with the football team and playing in Florida. More importantly, "it allowed me to take pride in myself and what I was doing. I found something I could rely on. I knew every summer I'd be making new friends and they would be kids just like me, looking for ways to do something positive in life."
Some 200 people attended the banquet at the Anheuser-Busch Banquet Center, including Jones employer both on and off the field. Rage Majority Owner Tye Elliott is also the State Sales Coordinator for AFLAC insurance, where CJ' recently took the title of Financial Consultant. And, once again, Clarence CJ' Jones gives credit to Matthews- Dickey.
"This club and its influence gave me the skill and the knowledge to prepare for life both in and outside of football. I learned that it really doesn't matter if opportunity is there; if you're not prepared and ready to take advantage of it. I'm proud and humbled to be able to shake hands with Mr. Matthews and my employer, Mr. Elliott, knowing that both have had a hand in helping me succeed." As for the Rage in 2006, Jones says he's ready to "hit the field at Savvis for a title run. I feel we've got a solid football team and I'm looking forward to playing and making a contribution to what I feel will be a championship season. I'm excited, but then I'd be excited if I were playing in my own backyard."
Having grown up in St. Louis and now working for a Fortune 500 company and playing for the Rage, CJ in a sense is doing just that, playing in his own backyard.
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