Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Meet William and Mary guard Misha Jones, also a scribe like us!

Jones chatting with Jennie Simms
The Washington Mystics played at home on Sunday.

You know what that means?  Misha Jones was at work.

Nope, the William and Mary guard isn't in the pros yet. But she writes professionally for Women's Hoops World, an online site that focuses on college and pro WBB. (Here's her Sunday story.)

A little bit on Jones. She had her pick of schools given her strong academics from Battlefield High in Manassas Park. She considered Princeton, but preferred staying closer to home and liked the idea of joining Ed Swanson's up-and-coming program in Williamsburg. Another plus was that her AAU teammates from the Fairfax Stars, Bianca Boggs and Chandler Smith, had also signed on with the Tribe.

On the court, it's been a rough go. Jones has been in rehab essentially since 2015 after two surgeries (she had never been hurt prior to college). She tore the labium in her shoulder (ouch) and then (super ouch) her Achilles and is working to get back in shape in hopes of contributing this season.

The film and media studies major loves to write -- something we rarely hear in this 14-character world. Color commentary and sideline reporting appeal to her, too. But basketball consumed her high school life along with academics (4.2 GPA), so beyond the classroom she had never attempted to do any serious writing.

"All I've ever really done is taking writing-intensive classes," she said. "But I never did writing for a
newspaper or writing for a journal."

Not lots of millennials read newspaper let alone write for them. Jones grew up reading Sports Illustrated, loves author Dan Brown ("Angels & Demons" is a fave)), and no surprise: She's a Harry Potter buff.

A tweet soliciting writers from Sue Favor's women's hoops site piqued Jones' interest in sports writing. Jones sent a sample and was delighted to receive a positive response. A college beat didn't work for her, but the idea of being a Mystics beat writer during her offseason? Now that was appealing.

She got the thumbs up from Favor, and next thing you know she's at media day for the Mystics and sitting on press row alongside Mel Greenberg, the Washington Post and hey, LadySwish!

"It was really that simple and amazing," Jones said. "I was ecstatic for a really long time."

Jones wrote Mystics preview material and covers home games for the revamped Washington team that acquired Elena Delle Donne and Kristi Toliver offseason. Bonus: ODU's Jennie Simms is a rookie on the team, someone Jones knows from college.

She loves all the work entails.

Young writers often cringe at the thought of editing. Jones embraces it, taking the same approach to it as basketball.

"You're not always going to be right on the court, either," she said.

Interviewing remains a challenge. Jones had been interviewed prior to us chatting with her, but when she became the interviewer, whole different ballgame. Her first stab at it was talking with Ivory Latta and Tianna Hawkins by phone.

"Those went pretty well," she said. "On the phone, you don't have to have that presence."

She went one-on-one with Latta during Washington's media day, still figuring out the dynamics of it all. While college teams set up formal press conferences for reporters regularly, trust us: Covering a pro team is a bigger challenge, especially for a young writer. You learn to be bold -- grabbing players before they warm up prior to the game is allowed, something that would cause a college coach to have a coronary. The locker room is open afterward, another logistical hurdle. The player you want to talk to might bolt as you're chatting with another.

"Going into the locker room to get quotes is so exciting and so terrifying at the same time," Jones said. "I like being able to ask questions and see where it goes. I like telling a different story than everyone else is trying to tell."

It just so happens Toliver is her absolute favorite player to watch, as Jones was all about the Terps as a youngster. She describes herself as a "mess" when Maryland won the NCAA title in 2006 -- Toliver's famous shot over Duke's Alison Bales that forced overtime of the national championship is a sacred clip. A framed Toliver jersey hangs in Jones' bedroom at home,

She awaits her first chat with Toliver, understanding she's not a fan anymore. She's a reporter.

"I've always been taught not to get starstruck because people are just people," she said. "But I'm human."

Kristi aside, Jones looks forward to interviewing Dee (that's Diana Taurasi) and she loves the idea of conversing with Tina Charles.

"The way she carries herself and what she does for her foundation and the passion she plays with -- it's very refreshing to see how authentically connected she is to what she does. I think she would be a great interview."

On July 2, the landscape changes. Jones returns to William and Mary to start the grind for next season (our words, not hers)  but is hoping to still cover Mystics games that fall on the weekends.

"I'm going to do it as long as I can," she said. "This is experience that is priceless."

Check out her stuff via her professional Twitter handle, too, @mishthejrnalist

1 comment:

  1. Amazing young lady. I can't to see what the future has for Misha Jones.