It’s graduation time at Florida State University and for the students who have earned their degrees, it’s a time for celebration – a time to celebrate their accomplishments as Seminoles and a time to celebrate the future as they embark on new adventures.
Florida State senior golfer Kayla Jones is one of many students who knew college would not last forever, but is still surprised by how quickly her career as a student-athlete has gone.
“It’s flown by and obviously everybody says that but, it didn’t hit me until lately,” said Jones. “I am obviously sad for what I am leaving behind, but I think there a lot of opportunities out there for me, so I am ready to see what is next.”
When she first arrived at Florida State, Jones’ number one goal was to be as successful as possible both on and off the course.
Among her goals on the course were to win a college tournament, which she did in her first collegiate event.
Off the course, Jones wanted to meet new people and make a lot of friends, which she believes she has done.
Academically, Jones has earned success as she has been named to the FSU Dean’s List three times, been honored as a member of the ACC Academic Honor Roll three times and was named to the All-ACC Academic Women’s Golf Team and the WGCA All-American Scholar Team in 2015.
On the golf course, she is ranked eighth in school history in career stroke average, has been a member of four NCAA Tournament teams, played in three ACC Championships, two NCAA Regional Championships and the 2016 NCAA Championship finals. The Seminoles were ranked No. 1 in the nation and won a school-record six tournament championships during her junior year.
Of all of her accomplishments, Jones sees her involvement in many different campus activities as the key to her success as a well-rounded student-athlete.
“Being on such a huge campus and trying to be involved in any way I can has been really good for me,” said Jones. “I met a lot of people who have influenced me and helped me grow.”
As a freshman, Jones had a lot of adjustments to make, as most freshman do. Being a student-athlete and playing a sport that demands a high level of commitment didn’t make her life easier.
“It was definitely difficult at first to balance my time,” said Jones. “But as I learned more about myself and my work load I was able to prioritize and manage my time for school, golf and leisure. I’m a firm believer that balance is important in order to live a successful life.”
Jones was not by herself in regard to adjusting to a vigorous schedule; she relied heavily on her teammates who helped push her to achieve her goals and always reach for new heights.
“My teammates have definitely been my rock,” Jones said. “They are my best friends and are always there for me no matter what.”
While her teammates may have been her rock, Jones’ teammates relied on her to be one of the team leaders, and according to head coach Amy Bond, their primary entertainer.
“She is not only a talented golfer but an extremely talented singer,” said Bond. “She has brought many laughs and genuinely fun moments to the team.”
Of all the fun moments that Jones has been a part of, her favorite memories come from all the places she has traveled to and with the people she went with.
“Our last day in Oregon (after the National Championship Finals in 2016) is one of my favorite memories,” said Jones. “We went to see the Pacific Ocean and ended up riding dune buggies. I will definitely miss the people and the environment because it’s really like having a big family.”
This past year she saw a familiar face added to her big family at her home away from home with her younger sister, Kendall, beginning her career as a freshman at Florida State.
“At first, I was a little worried that we wouldn’t get along, but I was also very excited,” said Jones. “I thought that she made a great choice knowing how much I love it here and to see that she saw the same things in Florida State that I did, was really encouraging, and she loves it here just as much as I do.
Kendall joined the competitive cheerleading squad at Florida State and is following in her sister’s footsteps, starting a Jones family tradition of being a student-athlete in the Seminole athletic program.
According to Kayla, this whole experience has brought the two sisters closer together.
“We have a new connection that wasn’t there before because we grew up playing different sports, doing different things and being in different places at different times,” said Jones. “Now we are able to support each other here and go to each other’s events and I think that is really important.
“We are both really dedicated to this athletic program, and we are definitely a family that bleeds garnet and gold.”
After spending four years in the athletic program and going through her own challenges, Jones has learned a lot and has a word of advice for all future Florida State students.
“Future Seminoles should know that the next four years are going to be some of the craziest, most dynamic years of your life,” said Jones. “Have no fear, take lots of chances and go confidently in the direction of your dreams. If you go forward in that mindset that nothing can stop you, you’ll be successful here.”
Looking ahead to the future, Jones plans on continuing her education at Florida State by applying for graduate school and is seeking a degree in the Integrated Marketing Communication program.