NaTanya Jones, a center for the McNeese State University Cowgirls basketball team, is one of five Division I women's basketball players selected to be on the Allstate Good Works Team. (Rick Hickman / American Press Archives)
Last Modified: Wednesday, February 12, 2014 5:20 PMThere will be a McNeese State Cowgirl represented at this year’s Final Four in Nashville, Tenn.
As you would expect, it’s quite the Cinderella story.
Cowgirls center NeTanya Jones is one of five Division I women’s basketball players selected to be on the Allstate Good Works Team, which is selected by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association. She’s the first McNeese player to ever receive the honor.
The Oakdale native rose to the top of a pool consisting of the 4,000 or so women playing Division I college basketball.
“It’s certainly one of the biggest awards a Cowgirl basketball player has received in the history of our program,” said coach Brooks Donald Williams. “We’re extremely excited for the way she has represented our school and community.”
The humble Jones knew she was nominated for the honor, but did not expect to be among the elite group invited to be honored in front of fans at this year’s Final Four.
“It’s very overwhelming,” Jones said. “I never thought little ole me would get this award. I feel very humbled and honored at same time.”
Jones has been involved in the community long before she set foot at McNeese and put on a Cowgirl uniform.
“The first thing I ever did, I was 12 and put together a youth conference at my church,” Jones said. “There wasn’t a big turnout, but I felt confidence because it was something I did all by myself.”
It’s been that way ever since.
Jones has been involved with a litany of organizations and causes ranging from the Ethel Precht Breast Cancer Walk, Toys for Tots, Mall-o-ween, Trunk or Treat, Communities Against Domestic Abuse, Special Olympics, Habitat for Humanity and fundraising for the Lake Charles Children’s Museum.
“She’s just done so many things since she’s been young, not only in Lake Charles but back home in Oakdale,” Donald Williams said. “She takes pride in serving her community no matter where she’s been.”
It doesn’t even have to be the community Jones is living in.
One of her projects is Operation Christmas Child. Volunteers pack toys and toiletries to be sent to underprivileged youths in Africa at Christmastime.
Though there is no immediate gratification of seeing the kids react to receiving those packages, Jones said the knowledge she can make a difference is all that matters.
“You have the feeling ‘That’s something I did for someone else,’” she said. “You feel good about it. It gives you a sense of ease to help somebody else.”
Jones said her favorite project is Habitat for Humanity, which brings a lasting sense of accomplishment once a house is completed.
“Seeing (people’s) faces when they come home — crying, how thankful they are. It’s amazing,” Jones said. “It’s permanent and something people never forget. People might see you in Walmart and they’ll give you a hug and tell you how much they appreciate it.”
Representing her hometown is Jones’ greatest source of pride in being named to the Good Works Team.
“It’s amazing to be able to represent my hometown. I want to go home and give back. I don’t want to move to a big city,” Jones said. “That’s a passion I have. I love Oakdale with all my heart. It’s like a big family. I love to be able to represent Oakdale and McNeese at the Final Four to receive this award.”