How a boys’ lacrosse team and wrestling helped Up2Us Sports coach Unique Jones discover her calling

Unique Jones has always been tough. In high school at Mastery Charter School in Philadelphia, Jones was close with the boys’ lacrosse team. By her junior year, they were saying to her, “Unique, you’re pretty tough! Why don’t you join the wrestling team?”

Jones was already a multi-sport athlete, playing lacrosse, basketball, tennis and golf, but she decided that she could give another sport a try. One year later, in her senior year, Jones won the Pennsylvania State Title in freestyle wrestling for her weight class, punching her ticket to the national tournament in North Dakota, where she was one win shy of standing on the podium. After high school, she continued to wrestle at Philadelphia’s Temple University, where she is currently studying kinesiology. 

Unique Jones/ Beat the Streets Philadelphia

But for how good Jones was at wrestling, it was never about the personal accolades. Instead, she saw the sport as a way to give back to her community. In high school, Mastery’s wresting team was funded by Beat the Streets Philadelphia (BTSP), an organization that helps create youth wrestling programs for underprivileged kids in the Philadelphia area, which introduced Jones to how sports can help support philanthropic causes, especially youth causes.

“Beat the Streets means a lot to me,” Jones told Excelle Sports. “They basically funded the [wrestling] program at our school. There wouldn’t be any mats, and there wouldn’t have been a team if it wasn’t for BTSP. It gave me the opportunities I have now.”

[More from Excelle Sports: How one former basketball star found her calling inspiring others through Up2Us Sports]

Right after high school, Jones began to coach two girls’ wrestling teams through BTSP. She also got involved in Up2Us Sports Coach Across America program where she teaches young girls the sport of wrestling as it exists both on and off the mat. 

“I was an assistant coach and we had a male coach,” Jones said of her position with the girls wrestling teams. “My role was to be the female [who keeps] other female wrestlers interested in wrestling.”

Wrestling has long been a male-dominated sport, but Jones, who now coaches wrestling and other sports as an Up2Us coach in the Philadelphia area, is dedicated to working hard to find creative ways to keep female student-athletes interested and involved.

“I appreciate Up2Us Sports because of all the information sessions [and] the trianings,” Jones said. “It’s helped me become a better coach, it helped me become a better individual.”

Unique Jones and co from Beat the Streets Philadelphia

While Jones stays busy at school and continues to work with BTSP in addition to Up2Us Sports, she says she still has more she’d like to give back to the community.

“I want to start going to [Up2Us Sports] meetings … I want to continue to share and continue to grow the community,” Jones said.

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