St. Joseph senior Lyric Jones said she had been talking to 11 schools concerning where she would play soccer next.

She had an offer from Division 1 Jacksonville University. She also had an offer from Alabama A&M.

Then she came across Benedictine University on the Next College Student Athlete (NCSA) site. Jones found a winning trifecta with the school, so, if things go well concerning the COVID-19 pandemic, she is set to play soccer at Benedictine, a private, NCAA Division III Roman Catholic university based in Lisle, Illinois, this fall.

There was the family angle. “When my father (Dan Fondern) saw that I had found Benedictine on NCSA, he was very excited,” said Jones. “He’s a Benedictine alum.”

There was the career angle.

“I want to become an anesthesiologist or a pathologist, and Benedictine has an outstanding medical program,” Jones said.

“I got interested in (the medical profession) when I was doing a (school) report. One of my dad’s friends was an anesthesiologist, and that’s what I’ve wanted to do since I was in the eighth grade.”

Finally, there was the team and school angle. “I was able to visit the school last December, see the campus, meet the players on the soccer team and I just fell in love with it all.”

Jones made her decision then and there. “I had been talking to Alabama University and The Citadel,” but after visiting Benedictine, “I cut ties with them before they could make me an offer.”

Jones said location was another part of what she figured was a winning Benedictine combination.

“I really like the city of Naperville (a Chicago suburb near the village of Lisle), and I like the city of Chicago as well,” said Jones.

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“Naperville really reminds me a lot of San Luis Obispo.”

Jones said she will live on the Benedictine campus.

The Orcutt resident is familiar with San Luis Obispo, at least in part because her club team, Central Coast United, is based there.

She said she has been in contact with Benedictine coach Katie Berkopec. Jones played the attacking midfield and holding midfield positions for St. Joseph. She was a striker and defender for Central Coast United.

Things are trending in the right direction for Jones, a three-year varsity player at St. Joseph, after a run of bad luck.

In her junior season, “I broke my toe. I didn’t get to play in the last game of the regular season or in any of the playoff games.”

The pandemic has put area area sports on hold. To date, the last sports event that took place on the Central Coast was on March 13 of 2020. Four Valley Christian Academy baseball pitchers combined for a no-hitter in the Lions’ win over Coastal Christian in that one.

Now, “My toe is completely healed,” said Jones.

She said she has been training regularly on her own. “I’ve been working out with Ty Lee, who is with Elite Athletics, and with coach Rick Luca.”

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