March 19, 2013
By Jon Cooper
Perron Jones’ competition as a member of the Georgia Tech Track team usually lasted fewer than seven seconds at a time.
That’s probably a good thing as all the things he accomplished, and still wants to accomplish, don’t leave him a whole lot of free time.
As a sprinter, Jones has always shown he knows how to make every hundredth of a second count. It’s a skill he used in the classroom, on the track, on campus as a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB) and off campus at various community service events.
“Whenever I have the time I’m willing to participate,” he said. “I really focused on trying to be an involved individual. That way I can help give to the community in any way I can.”
The combination of that commitment to volunteering, his 3.43 GPA in Computer Science, and his excellence on the track, where he’d held the school record in the 60-meters until it was broken this past indoor season, added up to the Augusta, Ga., native’s nomination for the Peach of an Athlete Award. He’s one of 10 finalists — one of three Georgia Tech student-athletes, along with tennis player Elizabeth Kilborn and swimmer Kate Riley — to be nominated. The award will be given at the 29th Annual Peach of an Athlete Role Model Banquet, being held at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, on March 26. The dinner begins at 7:00 p.m.
The Peach of an Athlete recognizes amateur and professional athletes who live or go to school in Georgia, have excelled in the classroom as well as in the community. Recognition is a well-deserved honor.
“Since he’s been here, Perron has done a great job of leading both on and off the track,” said Associate Director of Athletics Theresa Wenzel. “He’s a super individual and obviously, his level of intelligence and a level of competition certainly complement that.”
Jones has been a Dean’s List student every semester from fall 2009 through spring 2012. No small feat and something that means a lot to him.
“I take a lot of pride in it because Georgia Tech is a really hard school and being a student-athlete, we don’t get any breaks or perks that a lot of other students believe is so,” he said. “We’re taking the same classes, we’re taking the same tests. Sometimes we have to learn material on our own and do just as well on the tests.
“I feel like being a student-athlete instills character into you,” he continued. “There are so many facets to keep up with. Not only do you have to perform in the classroom, you have to perform in your sport, which requires rest. With a lot of students here, it’s okay for them to pull all-nighters, stay up super-late. But if we do that, it affects our competition. So that brings another aspect of time management and being an efficient worker. I feel like the success of student-athletes, we set the bar pretty high because of our everyday challenges that we’re able to pull through and succeed.”
Jones’ succeeded plenty on the track. He set the school record in the 60 at the 2012 Kentucky Invite, running a 6.77, shaving two/100ths of a second off a record that had been set a dozen years earlier. He watched with mixed emotions as freshman Broderick Snoddy surpassed his mark three times this season.
“It’s bittersweet because he’s my teammate, but as a competitor, you still have that competitive spirit where you don’t want anyone to be faster than you,” he said. “I’m really proud to have had the opportunity to have the record, especially where I came from. My margin of improvement has been really good over the last four years. I kind of wanted to leave my mark somehow here at Georgia Tech on the track and I felt like having that record for an amount of time, did that. So I was proud to be able to reach that mark. I’m really proud of [Snoddy].”
He remembered his smashing the mark as being as unexpected — especially to the trash-talking UGA and Tennessee athletes in his race — and gives a lot of credit for his success to Coach Nat Page.
“He did an amazing job of coaching me and getting me to the point I am now, where I’m running correctly,” Jones said. “It’s been a gradual process over the years. It taught me to be patient and stay focused and success will eventually come.”
Jones is as eager to see and be a part of others getting the chance to see success come. A lot of that work has been done through SAAB. He said he most enjoys participating in what has become an annual tour of the Georgia Tech campus on Homecoming Weekend to a group called AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination), a college readiness program, something he’s done the past three years.
“It’s amazing because you see these kids and they’re so excited about every part of the college environment,” he said. “And, of course, it’s homecoming weekend so you have all the festivities going on, ‘Yellow Jacket Alley,’ that weekend’s packed. They’re just amazed. It gives them a sense of hope, a sense of direction of how their life can be outside of what it is now. What’s going on in college. It gives them a sense of achievement. They want to come to college. They want to better their lives.
“I never had that exposure to just how good, how beneficial college life can be,” he added. “It’s a rewarding experience because I’m able to give them something that I wish I had to experience on my own. There’s a way to give back and encourage others.”
Jones graduates in May but has plans to continue his education, and will get a helping hand, as he’s one of Tech’s three recipients of the Thacker Award, an ACC Postgraduate scholarship. He’s hoping to further his education at Georgia Tech.
“I love the way they teach here,” he said. “I love the way they force you take on a real-world approach to a lot of problems, especially, a lot of my projects are team-based.”
Staying at Tech would allow Jones to continue to give back to the local community, although that commitment will be whereever he eventually goes.
“I always wanted to be successful and I always wanted to make an impact but I feel like the best way to make an impact isn’t really your individual achievements. It’s how much can you impact someone else’s life?” he said. “If you make a million dollars then it’s all for you. Yeah, you have good life. But how did you impact others? How did you help society? If there is some way to give back or some way to impact others’ lives, that measures truly how successful you’ve been in life and the kind of person you are.”
Tickets for the 29th Annual Peach of an Athlete Role Model Banquet sponsored by the Boys Scouts of America, are $250 per person, $2,000 per table of eight. For more information, call (770)-956-3177.