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Local teen achieves Eagle Scout, football dreams

POSTED: August 28, 2014 3:02 p.m.
Special photos / For the Barrow County News/

Mathew Jones, a member of the Winder-Barrow High School Class of 2014, not only achieved his Eagle Scout rank this year but also became a player on the University of West Georgia's football team.

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Winder native Mathew Jones had two dreams growing up: to become an Eagle Scout and to play football.

Within the past six months, he has achieved both.

Mathew, a member of Winder’s Troop 173, accomplished Boy Scouting’s highest achievement when he attained his Eagle Scout rank on March 20, and he was honored on Aug. 2 at a special Eagle Scout ceremony, said his mother, Terri Jones.

Of the 30 merit badges Mathew earned on his way to achieving the Eagle Scout rank, he described a couple, including the Shotgun merit badge—for which he had to shoot a certain amount of clay targets on a range—and the Citizenship in the Nation merit badge, for which he learned about the privileges and responsibilities of being an American citizen.

As a community service project, Mathew also constructed eight picnic tables in the public pavilion at the Winder YMCA and built a sump and trench drain run-off for the pavilion’s outdoor water spigot, Terri said.

Mathew said he chose this as his service project because that’s where his troop meets on Monday nights.

“The YMCA gives a lot to the Winder community in general, so I thought I could give back to them,” Mathew added.

Terri said Mathew received congratulatory letters from President and Mrs. Obama as well as all other former presidents and the Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis. Additionally, an American flag, certified by Senator Saxby Chambliss, was flown over the Georgia State Capitol in Mathew’s honor on May 1.

Mathew said he chose to become an Eagle Scout because of the Eagle Scouts before him.

“So many people who became Eagle Scouts before me have done good things in life, amazing things, and they’re amazing leaders,” Mathew said. “I thought, ‘If I become an Eagle Scout, maybe some of that could be instilled in me.’”

Not only was Mathew able to fulfill that dream this year, but he also began practices three weeks ago as a player on the University of West Georgia’s football team.

As a senior football player at Winder-Barrow High School last year, Terri said Mathew suffered a “heartbreaking” injury in the first game of the season, resulting in a broken fibula and torn ligaments, which required surgery and put him out of commission for the remainder of his last season of high school football.

“For some people that could have resulted in self-pity and despair,” Terri said. “Instead Mathew pushed forward and continued on with his scouting and football work. He has an amazing attitude and outlook.”

Terri said that despite not being able to play his senior year, Mathew—who has played football as the center position since he was 5 years old—continued to encourage his teammates and his scout troop, and after six months of extensive physical therapy, he walked on to try out for the UWG football team.

Five positions were available, and 125 boys tried out for them, Terri said, but Mathew received a call shortly after his tryout, notifying him that he made the team.

A freshman at the university this year, Mathew began classes this past Monday. He has declared a major in criminology and said he wants to be a Department of Natural Resources officer.

“Hopefully I can inspire some people by my story, so people never give up hope,” Mathew said. “I want people to be inspired to do good things in life.”

Regardless of who he inspires in the future, Mathew has already inspired his family and friends, Terri said.

“We named Mathew with the one ‘T’ as the meaning is ‘gift of God,’” Terri said. “He truly has been a gift to us and a tremendous source of pride.”

 

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