Isaiah Jones: he has “the ability to influence winning”

NASHVILLE, TN – For newly signed Nashville SC homegrown Isaiah Jones, Wednesday was surreal.

“As a kid, everyone has a dream to be a professional athlete,” the 17-year-old said during his official unveiling. “Just to sit here today saying that I have accomplished that… it’s just been truly a blessing because I could not have done it by myself. Because this is a journey that if you’re trying to do it alone, you’re never going to succeed.”

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Soft spoken and noticeably mature, Jones was quick to point the spotlight away from himself and on to those who have played important roles in his journey, both his actual family and the Nashville SC club that he said is “truly like a family”.

Jones’ family story is certainly unique. Born in Sierra Leone, he and his seven siblings were adopted by a Middle Tennessee family. Growing up in Thompson Station, TN, the family has been dominant in the local soccer scene.

His oldest brother, Michael, was named The Tennessean‘s 2017 Boys Soccer Player of the Year after a standout high school career at Grace Christian Academy, and currently plays for local outfit Beaman United FC. Isaiah called him “our coach”. Another brother, 20-year-old Malachi, was drafted eight overall by New York City FC after a stellar collegiate career at Lipscomb, and is projected to play meaningful minutes for the Pigeons in 2024. Levi currently plays for Lipscomb. Zion is currently a highly-rated player for Nashville SC’s U-17 team. His sister Gabby plays for Cumberland University.

“[Michael]’s the one that really just trains us, because I wouldn’t be who I am today without him,” said Jones. “Some days you’re not feeling like training, Michael will be the guy saying, we got to go train, we got to go get better.”

“Even in the backyard, we’d be playing 5v5s, 4v4s, and just making the most of that,” he added. “I feel like that’s where I’ve really developed winning mentality. Everyone knows you don’t want to lose against your brother. We want to compete and want to win.”

For Nashville, adding another homegrown player, a player found locally at a young age and developed in their own academy, is an important moment.

“When you think about the future of any club in the world, it’s about being able to develop your own players,” said General Manager Mike Jacobs. “Watching Isaiah’s ascension, to watch him play as a youth player in our academy, to watch him play with Huntsville City, to see him stand out in preseason in the first team. He’s created all his opportunities for himself and every challenge in front of him he’s made each time.”

It’s not just Jones’ abilities on the field that have Nashville so excited about his potential.

“We look at guys and we discuss, we talk about their potential performance and their character. And here’s a guy who’s going to represent our club and the academy program,” said Academy Director Kevin Flanagan. “What he does in the football pitch will speak for itself, but the character that he brings to the training environment every day, the character that he brings to his team is brilliant. And I tell you that feels great.”

As the club continues to grow, players like Isaiah aim to keep establishing a winning tradition from the academy all the way to the first team.

“When you’re in the academy, you don’t feel like you’re different from what the club is. So just keeping that unity in the club and just always wanting to improve, not satisfied with if we won,” said Jones. “We’re not just satisfied with just winning, we’re satisfied with winning championships and just the mentality to win is what I think I really love as part of this club.”

As far as Jones’ future with Nashville?

“He’s, has all the athletic attributes do you look for in a player at the next level, but his ability to fight and compete, I always think it’s amazing,” said Jacobs. “We talk to us a lot about his skill to develop the ability to influence winning and just kind of felt like he has this unique quality that special players have to make the players around him better.”

Author: Ben Wrightis the Director of Soccer Content and a Senior MLS Contributor for Broadway Sports covering Nashville SC and the US National Team. Previously Ben was the editor and a founder of Speedway Soccer, where he has covered Nashville SC and their time in USL before journeying to Major League Soccer since 2018. Raised in Louisville, KY Ben grew up playing before a knee injury ended his competitive career. When he is not talking soccer he is probably producing music, drinking coffee or hanging out with his wife and kids. Mastodon

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