In 2017, C.R. and the I.A.A. representatives developed a new annual award. This award recognizes archers who display sportsmanship throughout the year at I.A.A. shoots. Archers that displayed the pure love and enjoyment of archery and show it by their words and actions. C.R. and the other representatives of the I.A.A. will choose the award winner after the State Championship and honor this person at the IAA Archer of the Year Competition.
In trying to name this award and think about the one person that lives and breathes sportsmanship, there is only one name that keeps coming to mind. This name exemplifies archery and the joy, passion, and integrity of our game.
The annual award will be the; “The Austin Jones Sportsmanship Award“.
The name says it all and we thank Austin and his family for allowing us to do this. If you have anyone in mind for this award please let one of the IAA Reps know in private.
The winner of the 2017 Austin Jones Sportsmanship Award is…
AUSTIN JONES!! Congratulations Austin!!
We asked Jason Jones, Austin’s dad, to provide a little background on Austin that provides some insight, for those of you who may not know Austin, into our choice of choosing to name this award after him. The following was written by Jason.
I am not really sure what I want to say to you all. Right now, I am as proud as anyone has ever been, and you all know why. The Austin Jones Sportsmanship Award.
I guess I should tell you a little more about the man you have chosen to name this award after, Austin Jones, my youngest son. Austin has Muscular Dystrophy, which he was born with in 1996, though he wasn’t diagnosed with until he was almost a year old. He started walking with some crazy braces when he was 13 months old. Life went along pretty well for a few years, Austin was all boy. Catching snakes, playing with his brother and sister and jumping off of everything even though he never one time landed on his feet. He still has thick scars on both knees to this day. Austin was a fixture at his brother Jason’s baseball and football games, you could always find him in the dugout or on the sidelines. He knows more about sports than anyone I know. Maybe that’s where he first learned about sportsmanship.
On February 17th, 2003, by the grace of God we had just pulled into Detroit Children’s Hospital for an appointment to see if Austin could have a spinal fusion. Austin had been having a lot of trouble in the preceding weeks and was on O2 to help him breath. We were running late and for the first time ever used valet parking. We went inside and got our passes, a gentleman asked where we were going and gave us directions, to the wrong place. We got to the window and I started to speak with the lady at the window when my wife Stephanie said, “Oh my God his fingers are blue!” I turned him around and she said, “His lips are blue too!” The lady grabbed him out of my hands and took him to a crash cart and called a code blue. It’s a blur what happened next because I lost it. My wife never left his side, I on the other hand found myself locked in a small room. They saved my babies life. (if we had been sent to the right place they didn’t have a crash cart, if we hadn’t used valet we would have been later. Austin was seconds from leaving this earth. You better believe in miracles.) Forty-three days later we left the hospital. Austin would never breath on his own or walk again.
Almost fifteen years later I have never heard him complain, not once. Life changed a lot, we adapted the best we could. Fought to keep him in regular school. Fought to overcome our fears. Fought to let him live a good life. I was scared to death, if it wasn’t for my wife pushing the limits I would have never left the house with him. I met them at the lake on day and asked Stephanie where Austin was, she pointed to him and his nurse, seventy yards from shore on a jet ski. No one in their right mind would ever put someone on a ventilator on a jet ski, it’s sort of dangerous. Thank God she isn’t in her right mind. Austin continued to be awesome in everything he did, a great student and citizen.
Hunting and archery have always been a part of our lives. I grew up without a dad but was lucky enough to read all the great magazines growing up. I don’t know if it’s hereditary or what but my kids were born ready to hunt. Austin is no different. It was really hard though, barely got him out ten or fifteen hours a year. Then we met Ray Brown and Wheelin’ Team 457, got his trackchair and haven’t stopped since. He literally spends hundreds of hours in the outdoors each year now.
It was about that time we moved and Austin had to change school districts, Austin was getting ready to start his sophomore year. It was also about that time that I realized how incredibly compassionate Austin is. It was February when came home and asked if I had the money I owed him, I said sure and asked why. Austin told me they were having a penny drive for a fourth-grade student with Leukemia. Austin was saving to buy a new gun and was really close, he gave every penny.
Another time I was in the woods hunting when I got a text from Austin. It said ” hurry up we got a boy that wants to hunt and we have to send my crossbow to him. It shipped that day.
He had me stop at a benefit that we were driving by, it was for a six-year-old boy with juvenile RA. We didn’t have his wheelchair so he had me get someone. When the boy’s dad came to the car I grabbed Austin’s wallet and asked him how much do you want to give? He simply said, “all of it.”
I could go in for hours. He has organized wheelchair basketball games as fundraisers for people he has never met. He is always willing to help anyone he can. Since graduating from high school (with a 3.78 GPA) he has given 8 complete archery set ups to people. They had a story that touched his heart and he knows how much archery has done for him. Helping people is the only thing he loves more than hunting and shooting.
He lives his life the same way he competes. With an unmatched passion, an incredible desire to win, the utmost integrity and a great respect those that have paved the way before him and a hope to inspire everyone he can along his path. When he received some really bad news recently he said, “Come on dad we have work to do, we have people to inspire and we don’t have time to waste.”
At the end of the day the greatest thing about all of it is Austin gives all the glory to God. He knows without Him none of this is possible, but with Him all things are. I hope whoever you choose for this award possess some of those same qualities. I wish I had more of them, because there is no one I look up to more than Austin. Thank you for giving him this great honor and I promise it will be always be one you can be proud to give out. Austin exemplifies sportsmanship.