Jones, Gym Devils Bouncing Back
By Louie Vertone
Beaté Jones stands 4-foot-11, considerably the shortest member of the ASU gymnastics team, and one of the smallest Gym Devils to ever step foot in the John Spini Training Facility.
But with the mettle exuded by the pint-sized firecracker, one would think she was the starting center for the women's basketball team.
After a stellar showing her sophomore year finishing as ASU's top all-around performer, Jones suffered a Lis Franc injury, tearing the upper ligament in her right foot in an early preseason practice, wistfully ending her junior campaign before it even began.
"It was really hard for me after having a really good sophomore season," said the New Jersey native, now in her fifth season with the Gym Devils. "Being here far away from my family rehabbing by myself and not being able to help my teammates in meets all season really took a toll on me."
Her presence was missed considerably as the team finished the season with a 2-11 record.
It wasn't the first time the diminutive acrobat had to rebound from a season-ending injury. During regional competition during her junior season in high school at Red Bank Catholic, she tore her ACL, ending her meet and causing her to miss the national competition.
"That injury was really devastating," she said. "I worked really hard over the summer and - it's funny - people kept saying, 'Will you come back?' And it never crossed my mind not coming back. Ever. I tore [the ACL] in April and I worked my way back in January."
She came back the only way she knew how—strong.
Jones finished the season a national qualifier, regional state champion on vault and a New Jersey state champion. The impressive senior season sent her tumbling to Tempe.
"Beaté is a treasure. Everything from her values to her work ethic, all she wants to do is win," head coach John Spini said. "She is so mentally tough. And her way to recover from anything is a testament to her mental toughness and what kind of athlete she is."
She used that mental toughness again last season.
She fully recovered, picking up right where she left off, again being the Gym Devils' top all-around performer.
This season has been just as successful, as ASU is off to a 4-0 start and defeated its arch-rival Arizona for the first time since 2006. Jones scored a meet-high 39.175 against Utah State last Friday, earning her third-consecutive all-around title of the season.
The injury might have been a slight setback for Jones, but she fully believes everything happened for a reason.
"If I wasn't here this year, I wouldn't have found what I love," said Jones. "I really want to coach. Being a lot older than the younger girls, I've really got a chance to help them in everything, in the gym and out. And watching them and giving them advice from my time here is amazing. And coaching Arizona State would be awesome."
If Jones can find her way onto the ASU coaching staff, and recruit girls with half of the moxie she possesses, regardless of stature—the future will be bright for the Gym Devils.