Sophia Jones walked into the ballroom of Stent Hall at Menlo School on Wednesday morning expecting to be interviewed for her selection as Gatorade's California Women's Soccer Player of the Year.
What she found was a room full of family, teammates, friends, coaches and administrators there to surprise and congratulate her as Gatorade's National Player of the Year honoree.
"I genuinely did not see this coming and I still can't believe it happened," Jones said nearly a half-hour later. "It took me a second to realize what was happening. Then I saw the banner."
(Alternative, professionally edited presentation can be found here.)
Jones, who will play at Duke this fall, was greeted by former San Francisco 49ers great Steve Young, who presented her with the trophy. Young's son Braden has been a classmate of Jones' since the sixth grade.
"Steve has been an awesome mentor," she said.
Jones was only able to play for Menlo as a senior. She had national team commitments until then. She's been working out with the U20 national team, which beat Germany, 1-0, in a practice match Friday.
Jones plans to keep busy by training with the San Jose Earthquakes youth boys team and a San Ramon professional team. She's scheduled to arrive in Durham, N.C. on August 3.
The Blue Devils have an exhibition match scheduled for Aug. 12 against Campbell. The Final Four is slated for Avaya Stadium in San Jose on Dec. 6-7. Duke finished 16-4 last year, losing to Georgetown in the Sweet Sixteen.
Jones' parents, Tina and Warren, have already talked about a possible move to North Carolina. Her twin brother Austin is attending SMU this fall.
"They're thinking about getting a place," Jones said. "They've supported me all the way through."
Austin Jones guarantees no matter how difficult, the family will attend as many Duke games as possible. "It's a big part of our lives," Austin said.
"Sophie grew up playing sports with me in the backyard," said Austin, who will major in either engineering or business. "She always played with boys and dominated there. When she moved to girls, she could dominate. I think she learned a lot from men's soccer and transferred those skills."
Austin and friends never took it easy on Sophia and her brother thinks that was a valuable experience.
"What's a bloody nose once in a while?" asked Austin. "It built up her toughness. The thing I admire about Sophia is that when she gets knocked down she gets right back up."
Priory coach Henry Arredondo, who coached Jones in elementary school, said playing with the boys made her aware that there was more to the game than speed.
"Instead of relying on speed she had to learn different ways to beat the boys," he said. "She learned how to change speeds, change direction, manage the ball."
Women's soccer is not for the queasy either. Her Menlo teammate and friend Emily Tse has video evidence of Jones getting knocked over. In fact she compiled a video of her doing nothing but getting knocked over.
"You should she her playing Ping Pong," Austin said. "She dominates there too."
In middle school, Jones was a championship tennis player too. Menlo's veteran coach Bill Shine tried to recruit her to play with the Knights.
"She was great in middle school," Shine said. "This (winning national honors) could have been in any sport. She's a better person than all of us."