The journey of student-athletes during their tenures at Eastern Mennonite University varies for the individual. Women’s basketball player Jonae Guest (Dumfries, Va./Potomac), the most recent recipient of the Royals Athlete of the Week accolade, has had a journey that can be described as admirable.
Over four years, she has patiently advanced from playing just a few minutes a game to being a fulltime starter, and Jonae is responding to the increased responsibility with a career season as a senior. Since returning to ODAC play last week, the 6-2 center has posted back-to-back double doubles, breaking her career highs for points in a game twice. She scored 16 against Hollins University, then broke that with 17 Randolph College in her next contest. Jonae also came close to matching her career high in rebounds with 14 against Hollins, coming one short of her mark of 15.
The senior pays tribute to her coaching staff and teammates for helping her get to where she is at in this season and in her career.
“In the beginning of the season I wasn’t playing as well as I had hoped, so just staying relaxed throughout games and practices has really worked for me,” Jonae stated. “The coaching staff has been helping me throughout the whole season especially on moving past mistakes. If I mess up or miss a shot the important thing is moving on to the next play. I knew that coming into this season I would have to be a big contributor on the offensive and defensive end but I do find it comforting knowing that I have plenty of teammates who can help in both categories.”
The center currently sits sixth in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference with 8.4 rebounds per game and tenth in field goal percentage with 47.4%. With the current youth movement of the women’s basketball team, Jonae is the only senior on the roster, which puts her into a leadership role.
“Since I’ve been here the longest on the team I know how Coach would want us to be playing and I just try to relate his message to the other players,” she added. Jonae had the opportunity as a freshman and sophomore to go to the NCAA Tournament. She understands the young nature of the team this season, but sees the talent that will come out of experience because she has seen it firsthand.
“I have been blessed to be on two different types of teams and I wouldn’t change anything about that experience,” Jonae said. “I do have a feeling that when this team gets older they may have the same opportunities as I had and go to the NCAA Tournament.”
Coach Kevin Griffin tells of the strengths of Jonae on a playing standpoint and her commitment level.
“Jonae has continued to work each year and does so on a daily basis, a strength of hers is her steadiness,” Coach Griffin stated. “Jonae has a deep commitment to our program and our university and she demonstrates that in her treatment of her teammates and all she comes in contact with. She has a big smile and wears it each day. She has not flinched from the responsibility of being a senior playing with a very young group, she is a humble teammate who just wants our team to succeed.”
Jonae has a major in sociology with a minor in youth ministry, citing a passion for working with youth. Jonae exclaims that her four years of college basketball at EMU was a positive influence on her life and appreciates all that she will take away from the game once her career is finished.
“Basketball has always been a part of my life and I’ve met a bunch of people throughout, so one of the benefits of playing collegiate basketball is the friendships that you make throughout your four years,” Jonae said.