Matthew Jones to go for gold in Bocce
Milford athlete to compete at Special Olympics
“Special Olympics has improved my self-esteem, made me more outgoing, and made me more positive. I know that I can succeed."
— Matthew Jones
MILFORD — From water to snow and everything in between, Matthew Jones has dominated sports on all playing fields. Now he plans to go for gold at the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games in Bocce.
More than 3,500 athletes from all over the country will come together for the national competition being held from June 14 to 21 in New Jersey. Competitions in 16 different sports will be held.
Well rounded, Matthew, 23, has always been athletic and interested in sports. Nicknamed "Matt the Stat," he has an uncanny ability to call up any sports statistic in baseball or football.
"When we watch football or baseball games, Matt can tell you what team finished, what percentage the team was, how many home runs, what the base percentage is — he has a knack for statistics," said Matthew's father John Paul Jones Jr. "We watch all of the New York Mets games. And then we watch them again at 6 a.m. He watches over 350 games a year."
When Matthew is not watching sports, he is participating in them all year long.
In middle school he played baseball and basketball. In his junior year of high school — seven years ago — Matthew got involved with the Special Olympics Program Area P for Pike, Susquehanna, Wayne, Lackawanna and Wyoming counties.
He began playing and competing in bowling, swimming and alpine skiing where he has earned medals in all of those sports.
“Special Olympics has improved my self-esteem, made me more outgoing, and made me more positive," Matthew said. "I know that I can succeed. I have learned sportsmanship and learned to be a team player.”
Taking on a new interest, Matthew took up the Italian sport of Bocce about four or five years ago.
"It's just fun and very entertaining," Matthew said of the sport. "It challenges me."
Honing his skills several times a week, Matthew has excelled at the sport winning several medals including gold at the state championship — which allowed him to compete at the national level next week.
“I am honored," Matthew said of being able to attend the national Special Olympics. "My accomplishments have been rewarded. I love the team aspect and am looking forward to many more new friendships.”
Matthew is not the only one excited — his entire family is ecstatic.
"My husband gets over enthusiastic," said Janet, Matthew's mom. "He is a big cheerleader. The biggest cheerleader."
"I am extremely proud," John Paul said. "This is very gratifying."
Both of Matthew's parents will be cheering him on in New Jersey on his quest for the gold medal. His three brothers — JP, 28, Nicolas, 25, and Casey 21 — and the family dog, Rocky, will be cheering Matthew on from home.
"It is definitely exciting," Matthew said. "I, myself, am a competitive person."
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