MISSOULA — When selected to a Hall of Fame of any kind, the feeling of reaching that accomplishment is tough to beat.
But for Missoula's Julia Jones, simply getting nominated, regardless of earning enshrinement or not, meant the world to her because of who it was coming from.
Jones, 60, who has been either an assistant or head golf coach at Loyola Sacred Heart every season since 2000-01, was nominated by Kelsie Crippen, Maggie Crippen, Sadie Crippen and Bucky Crippen, all of whom have played for her at Loyola. The Crippen's mother, Marianne Nelson, also was a part of the nomination process.
For Jones, having that impact on people who felt that strongly about her meant more than they could ever imagine. She even said it brought her to tears, which doesn't happen often.
"The biggest honor that I felt was being nominated by my players," Jones said. "That was the most humbling (part) and it was overwhelming just to be nominated by them.
"So to be chosen for something that I didn't really feel that I deserved was over the top. But the most significant piece of this honor was that my players chose me. That was their sentiment, that I made (golf) fun for them."
After being initially nominated last year, Jones was recently enshrined as one of the newest members to be inducted into the Montana State Golf Association Hall of Fame. She was honored during the Women's State Am at The Briarwood Golf Course in Billings just over a week ago.
Jones' dedication to the game as well as the guidance she provided with younger golfers were the biggest reasons why she earned the honor. But her accolades and resume speak for themselves.
Jones was the head golf coach at Loyola from 2000-01 to 2010 before switching to an assistant role. Then, in 2014, she took over the reigns again but has since transitioned back into the assistant coaching role next to head coach Mike Trudnowski.
Jones has also won a total of 12 club championships in her lifetime, including most recently at The Ranch Club just a couple weeks ago. She won the Women's State Am back in 2009.
But the way Trudnowski puts it, Jones' impact will forever be the work she has done with junior golfers.
"To me, she's kind of like the face of junior golf in Montana. She promotes everybody," Trudnowski said. "It's not just centered on Loyola. She supports any type of junior golf for the kids in Montana. Anytime there is an opportunity for her to be involved in promoting junior golf, she's going to get involved and say yes. She knows kids across the state.
"The honor is well deserved for her. The energy and time she's put in has really helped golf and helped our golfers realize there are so many opportunities for them out there. She never gives that up and she's good at what she does."
Trudnowski coached Loyola from 1983-2000. When he left, Jones took over, and then after her fill-in season in 2014, Trudnowski came back in 2015 and has been heading Loyola ever since. Loyola recently swept the State B golf titles with the girls winning their second consecutive championship and fourth overall. The boys earned their seventh title for the school.
You have free articles remaining.
Jones has been there for all of Loyola's golf championships as a coach. Trudnowski said she's helped the team in many ways but specifically in the short game, like chipping and putting.
"She comes up with so many drills and practice events that just help the kids," Trudnowski said. "If one of the golfers has a little weakness in one area, she'll come up with something to help that young golfer. And she helps everybody."
With Jones on staff, Loyola has a no-cut policy to the golf team. That has allowed many players who might not be as good at golf to get out, join the team and have fun with their peers. A lot of that comes from her mother, Betty Andrews, who she credits as her mentor in life. Her mother taught her inclusion, which is what she has carried into her coaching career.
Whether you're good or bad on the golf course, Jones believes you can make the game fun for everyone, which is what she has done for her players.
"That spirit of inclusion is what has carried into my coaching philosophy," she said. "Include everybody. There's a way to make this game equitable for anybody, beginners and experienced. I probably wouldn't have felt that way if I had just learned to be a competitive golfer."
But despite ringing endorsements from colleagues and players, Jones said she doesn't believe she deserved the award. Golf was always just a game and getting rewarded for it seemed weird to her.
"I was recognized for something that I love to do," Jones said.
But she added, "These kids that played for me felt that I had done something worthy of this honor and I needed to own up to that. I am so pleased that I made a difference in their lives and they make a difference in my life."
Jones has played golf since she was 8 years old. In her family, the kids weren't allowed to play until they were 8 because that was when they figured they had enough patience and attention level to begin playing.
The game has since turned into a lifetime passion for Jones, who graduated from Sentinel High in 1977. However, she said she didn't really enjoy playing golf until she was about 24 or 25. She met her husband, Casey Jones, around then at the Missoula Country Club, and they found a passion they could do together. Even in competitions, Casey caddies for Julia.
From there, she saw an opportunity to get more involved in the sport. Eventually coaching came around as well and Casey coached alongside Julia too.
That path came to a head in July when Jones was officially enshrined in the Hall of Fame along with more of the state's greats. Sadie Crippen introduced Jones to the crowd during the ceremony.
"Just grateful for the honor," she said.