WEST POINT, N.Y. – North Iowa Bulls defenseman Jaxon Jones has a long family history of service in the United States military. Now that he’s set to graduate from Forest City High School, he’s embracing his own opportunity to serve and has accepted an appointment to the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. Jones will continue playing hockey at West Point, suiting up for the Academy’s ACHA Division II program.
“It was around my sophomore year that I started looking into West Point and the Military Academy. I would be happy going to any of the military academies,” said Jones. “I went to a hockey camp out at West Point during the summer, and that’s when I got to see the training they were doing and their facilities.”
Getting into West Point required a nomination, so he applied for nominations from U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley and Representatives Joni Ernst and Steve King.
Instead of just one, Jones got all three.
Now, the journey to West Point officially begins on July 2, when he’ll report to Cadet Basic Training. The start of the academic year follows in late August.
A spot on the ACHA squad is already waiting for him when he gets there, but he’ll get an opportunity to try out for the Black Knights’ NCAA Division I squad as well. Army’s Division I team has finished with at least a .500 record for three years in a row, playing as a member of Atlantic Hockey. Jones says he knows the odds are against him, but he has nothing to lose.
“It’s been my goal to play Division I hockey,” said Jones. “I played for the Bulls, and that was a good stepping-stone to pick up the level and the pace of my game. [Army has] never had a walk-on, and I’m happy with playing club hockey too, as long as I still get to play.”
The schedule expected of a West Point cadet certainly won’t be an issue – Jones spent his mornings taking classes through North Iowa Area Community College and Waldorf University as well as Forest City High School, before heading to Mason City each afternoon for four hours of practices with the Bulls and the Mason City Mohawks high-school hockey club. He also played running back for the Forest City Indians during the fall high school sports season.
“I would spend half of my day at the arena and then come back home and finish up my homework, and then start over,” said Jones. “I’ve always looked up to the Bulls, and everyone’s there to make it to the next level, so they’re going to put in their best effort every shift and every practice.”
Head coach Todd Sanden eventually called the Forest City senior’s name for a road trip on January 12 to La Crosse, helping the Bulls score a 4-1 win over the Central Division playoff champion Freeze. In all, he’d play 11 games during the NA3HL regular season and postseason, in addition to 31 games with the Mohawks. His 16 regular-season points for the Mohawks were enough to land a first-team all-Midwest High School Hockey League nomination, and he led Mason City to a second-place finish in the league tournament.
“Jaxon is a prime example of dedication and hard work leading to an opportunity,” said Sanden. “Jaxon earned his playing time with the Bulls by practicing every day. Jaxon is diligent and determined in his effort and is a very cerebral player, and he used his practice opportunity to become a reliable defenseman for North Iowa. He played in all four of the Bulls playoff games, which is a testament to the value he brought to our team.”
Following his graduation from the Academy, Jones will be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army and be required to serve five years on active military duty. He says he doesn’t expect his service to end after his five years is up, though.
“My plan is to make a career out of the military,” said Jones. “I want to stay in the military.”
Jones is one of 11 current and former Bulls to reach the college ranks this season, and becomes one of nearly 70 Bulls players to join a college hockey roster in the team’s seven-year history. Seven of those players have reached the NCAA Division I level.
Army’s ACHA Division II squad comes into the 2018-19 campaign off of a 9-12-1 finish this past season, and will start the new year looking to snap a five-game losing streak.
The North Iowa Bulls congratulate Jaxon Jones on his appointment to the United States Military Academy and on his accomplishments on and off the ice, and wish him the best in his new endeavors at West Point.