Andy Toole, head coach of the RMU Men's Basketball team, calls him "Pitbull" because of his tenacious play on the court. But to his teammates, Velton Jones is much more than that — he's the heart and soul of the team.
Jones, a redshirt junior from Philadelphia, is the starting guard for the Colonials. In the 2011-2012 campaign, he led the team in scoring and established a new RMU single-season record for free throws.
"I try to push the players and do everything the right way, set a good example," says Jones, a hospitality and tourism management major. "Leadership is something that has always come natural to me. My mother always told me to never be a follower; always try to lead."
Jones takes part in RMU's Mooncrest After School Program—a mentoring program for low-income children at an impoverished Moon Township neighborhood. The program, a collaboration with Big Brothers Big sisters of Greater Pittsburgh and the Felician sisters, matches RMU students with kids in first through sixth grade in order to provide a non-denominational, faith-based environment that is safe, comfortable, and secure.
Each week the student volunteers visit Mooncrest to work one-on-one with the children, helping with homework and study habits; working on projects in arts and crafts, drama, music, and computers; and playing together.
"When we first started [the program]," says Jones, "it was like, do we really have to do this? But now I love it. The entire team enjoys it. You can just put a smile on a kid's face by helping them and playing with them. It's an awesome experience."