SACDAWGS: Vegas Born, Desert Tough

Wide receiver Jonathan Schofield shares his JUCO Journey

Correction, Nov. 27: An earlier version incorrectly said Jonathan Schofield is a running back. Schofield is a wide receiver.

Family, faith, and football. Nevada-born wide receiver Jonathan Schofield holds these three elements of his life close. Schofield has built his strength not only physically, as is evident when coaches try to tear him away from the gym, but mentally. The types of hits that Schofield has taken throughout his football career, he said, comes with the territory. You take it, you move on and get stronger. This has been a constant in Schofield’s life. From loneliness and doubts, and from first moving from Vegas to California to begin his JUCO career, to sitting out a whole season, Schofield has the strong foundation of family and faith on his side.

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Jon Schofield during the semifinal game against Riverside City College on Saturday, Nov. 23. Photo by Andrew Talavera

When Schofield graduated from Palo Verde High School, he did not have any offers and that began his football-related struggles.

“I was getting looked at by this little Division Three school, University of Wisconsin River Falls. It was a little degrading to not have any other offers because I had the ability to go play at the next level. I just took it with a grain of salt and came here to get my second opportunity because I felt that I was good enough to get to the next level,” Schofield said, the “here” being Mt. SAC.

Schofield’s mother, Katrina, works as a bartender in Las Vegas. One night, a customer suggested that Schofield look up Mt. SAC’s football program. He read about their tradition and felt like it was a good fit.

“I sent my film in to Coach Cam here and he liked it and told me to come visit. That’s what started the process. When I got here, they accepted me right away. I felt like family, immediately. I liked the winning tradition. I like to win. That’s what brought me here,” Schofield said.

He started in June 2017, but the transition to SoCal was not all sunshine.

“There were a couple of things that happened that made it hard when I moved out here,” Schofield said. “I moved out here when I was 18. I was a little youngin’.”

Being away from family was tough and lonely, and these feelings hit him hard when he made the move.

On top of this, coaches had a different route planned for him after he arrived and played for the first time.

Schofield’s coaches wanted him to grey shirt his first year. Grey shirt is the process a freshman athlete accepts to postpone their full-time enrollment in classes until the following season. This was another test Schofield had to tough out, despite his own confidence that he was good enough to start.

“I came out here thinking that throughout high school, I always started. I never sat out. When I got here, I worked my butt off. We played a scrimmage against Citrus College and I thought I did pretty good,” he said. “Then after the game, my receiver coach came and said, ‘I think we’re gonna grey shirt you.’ That was like a slap in the face because I felt I was good enough to play that year.”

Depression and doubt set in, and Schofield started making plans to go back to Vegas, permanently. He went back home, with doubts of coming back and picking up a football again. The self-labeled “Desert Rat” was retreating.

“Through the grey shirt year, I just practiced and I got depressed,” Schofield said.

Schofield said that he questioned himself.

“I thought, ‘I’m not even gonna play JUCO football, why would I think I’m good enough to go D1?’” Schofield said.

He remembered an uncle who was in the military, and seriously contemplated taking the same route.

“I was just thinking, ‘He’s living a good life. Why would I sit here and try to struggle and put my family through and make them pay for schooling, when I could just go start my career?’ I was dreading the fact that it wasn’t going to happen. It degraded me,” Schofield said.

He added that he was done and did not want to come back to the football program, until the coaches reeled him back in.

“I talked to the coaches, and it brought me back to reality. They explained to me, ‘We didn’t sit you out because you weren’t good enough. It’s because your technique was not there, but so you can only get better.’”

Schofield said that looking back now, he would not have changed their decision for him to grey shirt.

“I was young and really mad about it because I didn’t think I deserved that, but looking back now, I’m glad,” he said. “I never played receiver in high school. I played quarterback and running back, so I had a lot to work on, on attacking leverage, on how to read defenses. That year I took off, it really helped me transform my game to the next level.”

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Jon Schofield leads the Mt. SAC Football team in a prayer after their 48-0 loss against Fullerton in the Southern California Football Association Semifinal 2019. Photo by Andrew Talavera/SAC.Media

When it came to transitioning into his living situation, Schofield went from living with seven guys in a two-bedroom apartment in Walnut to now living with his best friend and teammate, defensive lineman Michael Irenze.

“My roommate, Mike, is from Vegas too. We just clicked. That’s my brother,” he said. “No matter what, he’s always going to be in my life now. Our families know each other and we’ve bonded together. That’s my best friend.”

During the grey shirt period, he said his teammates also helped him get through it. Like most SACDAWGS, Schofield referred to them as “brothers” and “family.”

“Being able to count on my brothers to help me and bring me back up, that’s what helped me. Being able to sit there and do things and have a family out here basically just helped make the transition much easier.”

Schofield also looked to his unshaken faith for reassurance. He said, “In the present day, I know it’s a fact that everything happens for a reason.”

When Schofield speaks about his nuclear family back home, his eyes light up. He is the oldest of three, with brothers Jacob, 18, and Jeremy, 15. Even when using the word brother for the younger Schofields, one can hear the difference in his tone.

“It was fun growing up. We were so close in age and always played together. We had our ups and downs. We fought a lot but as we grew up, we started understanding each other better and maturing. I’ll kill for every single one of them. I don’t even know how to explain it. Those are my brothers,” Schofield said.

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Jonathan Schofield, 15-year old brother Jeremy, 18-year-old brother Jacob, father Michael, and mother Katrina, in a photo with Santa Clause. Photo courtesy of Schofield family.

His parents raised the three boys by example of hard work, faith and love. Their mother was a balance of tough love and kindness.

“My mom is a tough lady.” Through laughs, Schofield added, “She can be a psychopath sometimes.”

Jokes aside, Schofield explained that she had to have that strictness, being the only female in the house.

“She had to connect with us on a different level. She also gave us that loving factor that taught us how to be genuine towards others. She also made it known, ‘Don’t fuck with me.’ We respected her a lot,” Schofield said.

He recalled a time when his mother showed him who was boss after he confronted her in their kitchen.

“I puffed up to her one time and she grabbed me, threw me up against the fridge,” Schofield said. “She is a little angry fireball when you get on her bad side, but she also loves us.”

Despite normal teenage angst, Schofield said his mother taught him and his brothers to be strong, but also kind.

“She had that meanness to her, but she also had that loving, touching side, which I think played a big role in raising my brothers and me,” he said.

His father, Schofield said, spoiled him and his brothers. Because he received a lot of things he wanted, though, his father showed him that nothing received was going to come easy.

“My dad’s real dad left him when he was growing up. His stepdad raised him, and he didn’t have a lot. He spoiled us a lot and gave us what he didn’t have.”

Schofield added, “He owns a landscaping business. Every summer, starting in eighth grade, I worked all summer, five days a week, with weekends off. He instilled the fact that things don’t just get handed to you. I’m very appreciative that he instilled in me that nothing comes for free. You have to work for everything you do.”

Schofield has strong support back home. His parents continue to support him, no matter what, making sacrifices along the way for him to be able to chase his football dreams. They often drove out to California for games during his time as a SACDAWG.

“They made lots of sacrifices. My dad took off work so he could go with me to visit colleges. My mom took off work so she could drive me to camps, paying stupid money so I could go to camps. I went to an Oregon camp and it was really expensive,” he said. “They sacrificed a lot, giving me all the opportunities to get to the next level.”

Faith was another factor that interlocked his family.

“Growing up, we went to church pretty often. Now, I try to get to church whenever I can. I believe in a higher power, and I know that God puts things in my life and everything happens for a reason in his eyes,” Schofield said. “Just because it’s not something you want, he could have something better planned for you in the future. Just trusting him and living through him, I know that no matter what happens in life, that was meant for me.”

Another part of his upbringing in Vegas was going from open road to field, where Schofield moved from racing motocross to football. It was love at first sight.

Jon Schofield at age 11 with his youth league football coach Harry and teammate Skylar Salva. Photo courtesy of Jon Schofield.

“I started racing motocross when I was 4, about the time I got my first dirt bike. I was a Desert Rat. Going out to the dirt track every weekend, to dry lakebed to go trail riding. It was a blast. That was my passion,” Schofield said. “I love going fast. I’m a speed demon and adrenaline junkie. My dad got laid off and it got too expensive. One of my good buddies from elementary school asked me to come play [football]. I did, and I had a natural talent for it and fell in love with it.”

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Jon Schofield at 13, during a pass in a youth football league game. Photo courtesy of Jon Schofield.

Schofield may have inherited some of his football love from his father, who played tight end at a Compton high school. There, he was injured during a game the weekend before he was supposed to visit a Florida University for a future football opportunity.

“He got high-lowed and tore everything in his knee. It ruined his career. He always tells me it was the best thing that ever happened to him because now, my brothers and I are here,” Schofield said.

His Vegas upbringing and connection to the city is and always will be present. Schofield has a Vegas Born, Desert Tough tattoo on his left arm.

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Jonathan Schofield smiling on the turf field at Mt. SAC before practice. Photo by Mychal Corbin/SAC.Media.

“That’s my city. I’ll rep it everyday of my life. At home I have a big Vegas Strong flag, and on my truck, I have a Vegas Strong sticker,” Schofield said.

He added that there is much more to Vegas than the lights of the popular strip.

“The strip is probably 3 percent of Vegas. There’s a whole community.”

The strength of the desert city’s community was evident after the Oct. 1 shooting at the Route 91 Harvest music festival in 2017. Schofield shared that a big part of permanently representing Vegas pride on his skin was the the unity that the Vegas community demonstrated in the aftermath.

After he transfers to a four year, Schofield wants to major in criminal psychology.

“The dream would be to join the NFL,” Schofield said, but added that if that does not pan out, he would join law enforcement.

“Ever since I was a kid, I found what they do intriguing, helping people. I have seen a lot of stuff, with drinking and driving and being able to stop somebody before they put other people’s lives in danger.”

After contemplating joining the Navy SEALs, he, being a family man, decided that he would not want to be away from his parents and brothers.

Whatever is in Schofield’s future, he is certain that it is all part of the plan. The scripture Schofield said he lives by is Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me.”