From Mexico to North Dakota, Bison defensive end Stanley Jones never far away from family
FARGO—The city of Chihuahua, Mexico, is located about 260 miles south of El Paso, Texas. Or, for a better frame of reference for North Dakota State football fans, about 760 miles from Frisco, Texas.
It's home to historical buildings and landmarks that date back to the 1700s that are well preserved today. The landscape is part desert, but the mountains surrounding the city are not far away. The hunting is good, which is a surprise to people not from there. The natural beauty is home to more than 800,000 people and that includes all 10 members of the Jones family.
Jared and Clara Jones have four girls and four boys. One of them, Stanley Jones, happens to live a long plane flight away as a senior defensive end for the Bison.
"For my wife, it was really hard," Jared said. "It still kind of bothers her to this day that she can't be there to spend more time with him and to be with him. It's tough in that sense, but it's also been a fun journey with him playing for NDSU."
Family, however, is never that far away for Stanley. When his parents decided to move back to Mexico from Bismarck, before his senior year of high school, Stanley wanted to remain at Bismarck High.
He had already committed to NDSU for football and the thought of moving to Mexico for his final year where soccer is the sport of choice wasn't what he had in mind. That's when Steve and Renee Schultz and their two sons became a part of the Jones family.
They'd known each other through church, and one day Stanley approached Steve, at the time a teacher at Bismarck High, if it would be OK if he could live with them for his senior year.
"We happily took him in," Steve said. "It was one of those things where Stanley was raised very, very well. We had no issues when Stanley was staying with us. Jared was always a phone call away but we never had to use it."
Saturday's game against the University of Delaware at Gate City Bank FIeld at the Fargodome is homecoming for NDSU. It will also be a true homecoming for the parental figures in Stanley's life. The entire Jones family is making the trip from Mexico. The Schultzes will be there too.
"One of the things I really like are the people and the hometown atmosphere that is cultivated up there," Jared said. "It always feels like a big family, especially with the Bison fans and the Fargodome. It just feels like one big family. It gives me the chills every time I go up there."
The move back to Mexico came about after the Jones' acquired a pecan orchard. Jared said he liked the idea in that it would be a good experience for Stanley and that softened the thought of leaving him with the Schultzes.
Mexico is home to Jared, who was born in the country and has lived half his live there. The family moved to North Dakota in 2008 when the economy went south. A wood door manufacturing company that Jared was part of in Denver suddenly lost a lot of its contracts so Jared, at the advice of his brother, found work in the exploding oil industry in western North Dakota.
Stanley, who is fluent in Spanish, spent his freshman year of high school in West Fargo before moving to Bismarck before his sophomore season. He had 13.5 quarterback sacks in 2012 and was named the USA Today Defensive Player of the Year in 2013.
That was a year where the Schultz family was such a big part of Stanley that the two boys, 11-year-old Kale and 6-year-old Cooper, still call him a brother.
"I call them my bonus family," Stanley said. "It's been a blessing. What's nice about it is I have family everywhere. It's been easy because I've been surrounded by good people."
Steve, now a math and economics teacher at Legacy High School in Bismarck, never hesitates to check in on Stanley's academics. It's the teacher in him, he said. The Schultzes don't miss a home game at NDSU, which is making this final year somewhat bittersweet, especially for Kale and Cooper.
"We'll see what happens after Stanley graduates," Steve Schultz said. "They live and dream of going to watch Stanley play. They have Bison Stanley Jones jerseys. Everything at our house is NDSU stuff. It's so neat to see it."
For the Joneses, it would be neat for Stanley to end his career in Texas. Last year, at the FCS title game in Frisco, they rented a big house. For now, the focus is homecoming weekend and the University of Delaware.
"It's incredible how much he's learned from coaches and how they've helped him through difficulties," Jared Jones said. "It's just inspiring to see him move forward. He has so many different role models you could say. I've seen huge changes in him for the better. He's been around just great people and that gives us a lot of comfort down here. If he were somewhere else, I think it would be more nervous. It's pretty easy to leave a kid in North Dakota and know he'll be OK."