Dec. 4, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame track and field program has welcomed Pristina Jones, the former head women’s cross country and track and field coach at Jackson State University, to the assistant coaching staff, head coach Alan Turner announced.
Jones will focus on sprints and jumps for the Irish after having served at the helm of the women’s program at Jackson State since 2011. Prior to that, she served as assistant girls’ track & field coach at Warren Central High School in Indianapolis, Indiana, head women’s cross country and track and field coach at Chicago State University and as an assistant at Jacksonville State University.
Jones leaves a Jackson State program (cross country, indoor track and outdoor track) that achieved a perfect score of 1000 in the Academic Performance Rate for three straight seasons (2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14), while the cross country squad once earned the honor for the fourth straight year in 2014. She oversaw a third-place finish in the Southwestern Athletic Conference for the cross country team in 2013, while coaching two-time SWAC discus champion Sharonda Bryant and sprinter Raina Sanders, who claimed SWAC outdoor titles in the 200 and 400 meters.
Compelled by the opportunity to be a part of a program on the rise, Jones accepted the post at Notre Dame for the prospects of both personal and professional growth.
“I am extremely excited about the opportunity to be able to be a part of a program that is growing tremendously on both sides and to see the potential that Coach Turner has to take the program to the next level is a big thing to be a part of,” Jones said. “I am extremely excited about the opportunity to be able to have some growth as an individual, as a coach, and also to be able to assist with growing the program. It’s already at a high level, but to be able to take it to the next level that Coach Turner is trying to take it to, I’m excited about the future.”
Prior to working at Jackson State, Jones spent nearly two years as an assistant coach with the girls’ track and field team at Warren Central while working toward her master’s degree in Applied Management from Indiana Wesleyan University. At Warren Central, Jones coached the 100 and 200 meter sprint groups, as well as the 4×100 meter relay. She is currently working toward a second master’s in Organizational Leadership from Indiana Wesleyan.
Jones guided the women’s program at Chicago State between 2006 and 2009, where she helped the Cougars reestablish the program. She worked to help her student-athletes improve their personal best times and jumps, and also coached the men jumpers between 2006 and 2008. During the 2007 and 2008 cross country seasons, Jones helped her athletes shave five to nine minutes off their personal bests. The Cougars also saw Stephon Harden qualify for the 2008 NCAA Midwest Regional Outdoor Championships in the long jump under the guidance of Jones.
She also spent one year as an assistant on the staff at Jacksonville State, where veteran head coach Steve Ray tutored her.
Turner trumpeted Jones’ head coaching experience in influencing his decision to add her to the Notre Dame staff, adding that it will help with the administration of the program and give her a strong baseline from which to relate to the student-athletes.
“Getting someone who has head coaching experience that wants to be a part of our staff speaks volumes about our program and about her,” Turner said. “She’s going to be someone that I don’t have to hold her hand. She’s going to help us out tremendously with relating to our athletes, having been a head coach and an NCAA champion while she was a student-athlete.”
A standout athlete in her own right, Jones was an 11-time All American at North Central College (Naperville, Illinois) and a three-time NCAA Division-III National Champion. As a senior in 1999, she claimed the indoor and outdoor long jump titles, as well as a title in the 4×400 meter indoor relay. Jones holds school records in outdoor long jump, the outdoor 4×100 meter relay and the 4×400 meter indoor relay. Jones earned seven College Conferences of Illinois & Wisconsin championships, including three straight CCIW long jump titles from 1997-99. She graduated in 1999 with a BA in Marketing and minors in computer science and communication. In 2000, she joined the Indiana Invaders, an Amateur Elite Track & Field Club, where she spent five years competing, as well as mentoring and coaching high school and college-aged student-athletes.
By Joanne Norell, Media Relations Assistant