SACO – There are lots of reasons to miss the first day of school, playing basketball in Russia is not usually one of them. Payton Jones, a sophomore at Thornton Academy, spent 10 days traveling this past summer through Russia and playing against local teams. Because of his travel schedule, he was forced to miss the first day of school and football practice. But things have a way of working out.
Jones said the trip was important and unforgettable in many ways. “The trip made me think differently about the sport because it broadened my horizons on how many people actually love the game as much as I do,” Jones said.
After returning to campus in September, Jones joined his teammates on the football team and together they completed an undefeated season, ending with another gold ball for his school. Jones has been selected an SMAA First-Team wide receiver.
Now he is committed to working just as hard with his teammates on the varsity boys basketball team.
All of the games he will play in this winter will take place in southern Maine, but the players and people he met in Russia will always motivate him to become a better player.
“ I met many new people that I still am able to be in touch with and communicate with. Basketball in Russia was very different and even the way people played was different. The way they played was nothing I had ever experienced before. I really enjoyed being out of my comfort zone and learning new things and the differences between basketball here, to there.”