This will hopefully become a regular weekly feature on Brooklyn Eagle Sports where we interview one LIU student-athlete each week. That way we can get to know the LIU Brooklyn athletes better and highlight their individual achievements.
First up in our weekly Q&A’s we have Lucy Gunton-Jones, a 19-year-old from Great Yarmouth, England. In her freshman season, Gunton-Jones was named to the Northeast Conference All-Rookie Team, a member of NEC’s Fall Academic Honor Roll, and was part of a LIU defense that allowed just four goals against NEC opponents last season.
Brooklyn Eagle Sports: When did you come to America from England?
Lucy Gunton-Jones: “Last August just before my freshman year of college.”
BES: Why did you choose to come to America? Was that something you wanted to do from the start?
LGJ: “No, I never had dreams of playing in America, it just sort of happened. I got recruited to play soccer. I was playing in England at the time, I was thinking about what I wanted to do, and the opportunity came up. I thought about it for a while, not a lot, but ultimately I decided to come to visit and that’s when I decided that this is what I wanted to do.”
BES: Tell me about the recruiting process.
LGJ: “I was recruited by a different college at first, Hofstra. That was the first school in America that I visited. Once LIU found out that I was considering coming here, they asked me to come visit the school. I liked it better and eventually I choose LIU.”
BES: What was it about LIU that attracted you to it over Hofstra?
LGJ: “I just got along better with the people. The coaches were really welcoming, I immediately got along with the girls well, and I just thought the school was a lot better.”
BES: There is another British girl on your team, Jessica Montrose (who transferred in for the 2013 season), did you know her before you both came to LIU?
LGJ: “We played against each other so I knew who she was. We weren’t friends or anything though. She came in as a transfer this year, there were a few other english girls that had been to LIU before both of us (Toni Smith, LIU’s leading scorer last season and NEC All-Tournament player, was also from England) and it was nice to know they have done well here.”
BES: Did you have a role in recruiting Montrose at all?
LGJ: “Not really. Since they knew that she was another English girl, I took her out and showed her the city and the school. But it wasn’t an active thing where I was trying to talk her into it beforehand.”
BES: What was the transition of moving to America like for you?
LGJ: “The education system is different, I was younger when I graduated from secondary school and I moved out from my home in England when I was 16-years-old. So leaving home wasn’t a big issue. It was a different culture coming here, I think I adapted quickly though. The biggest thing was dealing with the different environment of living in a big city. Sometimes people struggle to understand my accent so that was a bit difficult. LIU made the entire process easy though because before I even got here I knew the staff, I knew the girls. That made it easier to handle.”
BES: What was it like making the transition from playing English-style soccer to the American-style?
LGJ: “Playing in England is different. In America you have to be better all around, quicker and stronger. That was the biggest difference for me coming here. Most of the forwards I came up against were really technical and quicker so I had to adapt. The game here is faster and more of an athletic style.”
BES: What was it like to be named to the All-Rookie team last season?
LGJ: “I didn’t expect to make that team at all. I came in as a freshman late to preseason and had to work my way onto the team. Eventually I began to play left-back and was stuck there all season. I didn’t think i had a brilliant season, but the defense was strong and obviously we made it to the championship and won so I think that helped me.”
BES: You were also on the NEC’s Fall Academic Honor Roll. How do you balance the team and school so well?
LGJ: “I found the busier I was the easier it was to fit everything in because you don’t have to think about it, you just have certain things that you need to get done. Having a set schedule and knowing what you need to do is helpful.”
BES: Do you have any specific goals for your sophomore season?
LGJ: “I want to have a big impact on the team, be a leader and hopefully get us another championship. I’d really like to be a better defender as well.”
BES: Which opponent are you most looking forward to facing this season?
LGJ: “St. Francis, PA. We beat them the last two times in the championship and they’re our biggest rivals in the conference. It’s basically, you are going to war every time you face them. It’s just one of those games you can’t bear to lose.”
BES: What is your favorite part about Brooklyn?
LGJ: “I like the school and how convenient everything is. You can always get something, it’s easy to travel, sometimes it gets a bit crowded but that’s about it. I really like to run the Brooklyn Bridge because it’s an escape and you get to see everything so well up there. It’s a great view.”
BES: What’s your favorite place to eat in Brooklyn?
LGJ: “I don’t eat too much in Brooklyn. My favorite place, though, is Sunny’s Bagels right across the street from campus.”
Thanks to Lucy for taking the time to speak with me and to Dan Lobacz, the Assistant Director of Athletics and Director of Media Relations at LIU, for setting this up. This will be just the first of many student-athlete interviews so look for them each week.
If you’d like to see Gunton-Jones in action, the Blackbirds begin their season on Aug. 13 against Army at West Point. Their first game in Brooklyn is on Aug. 23 against St. Joseph’s at the LIU Field. Check the LIU Athletics website for times and details.