CLASS OF 2019: Three-sport star Jon Sheets to be inducted into Nevada Union Athletics Hall of Fame
With impressive skill, a high sports IQ, as well as the trust of his coaches and teammates, Jon Sheets shined in whatever athletic endeavor he pursued at Nevada Union.
Whether it was basketball, football or volleyball, Sheets was a leader, a winner and an all star.
“Jon was a genius on the court,” said Jeff Dellis, who coached Sheets in basketball. “He really understood the flow of the game and when it was important for him to take over. In athletics you’re always looking for kids who will make other kids better and it’s rare to find those kids, but Jon made his teammates better.”
Sheets, a 2003 Nevada Union grad, was a three-sport star at Nevada Union, earning two varsity letters as the starting point guard on the basketball team, two more letters as quarterback for the Miners football team and a fifth letter as a member of the volleyball team his senior year.
On the basketball court, Sheets led the Miners to a Metro League Championship, was named the league’s co-MVP and earned a spot on the Optimist All-Star Team his senior season. As a junior he was selected to the All-Metro Second Team and led the Miners to the playoffs.
“I’ve never been a real big believer in quiet leadership,” said Dellis. “But, Jon was the exception to the rule. He wasn’t a rah, rah guy, but he was very much a leader on the court and the field.”
On the gridiron, Sheets was a two-year varsity starter at quarterback and spurred the Miners to a league title in 2002. Sheets was an all-league first team selection his junior season, was the league MVP his senior season and was also selected as a football Optimist All-Star.
“Jon was a tremendous competitor and a very smart player,” said Dave Humphers, who coached Sheets in football. “He was a magician at hiding the ball and in both his junior and senior years he threw for over a 1,000 yards. But, if you tried to defend our offense with Jon as our quarterback, you couldn’t find the ball. He was so good at hiding it.”
In search of something to fill the time after basketball his senior year, Sheets joined the volleyball team and made an immediate impact. He earned all-league first team honors and another invitation to an Optimist All-Star Game.
For his many accomplishments as a Miner and beyond, Sheets is being inducted into the Nevada Union Athletics Hall of Fame on Saturday.
“It’s an honor, that’s for sure,” Sheets said. “Growing up as a kid, I always went to the basketball games and football games and looked up to those guys, so when it was my turn I was very prideful to be an NU Miner and represent them. I loved it and I worked hard and got to play with all my best friends there. It was a special time in my life with special people.”
When Sheets looks back on his time at Nevada Union, a couple big on-the-field moments stick out.
One was beating Grant on the road in football to clinch the league title his senior year.
“It was a packed house,” Sheets recalled. “I remember the bus ride there and walking down the steps on our stadium side. It was a close game the whole time, then the fog rolled in and you couldn’t see 20 yards in front of you. And, we got a huge stop at the end to win the (league) championship.”
The other memory was a hoops game against Grant in front of a raucous crowd at Albert Ali Gymnasium.
“We beat Grant at our place, a packed house,” he said. “Gary Daley with a dunk at the end of the game to seal it.
“Those were two incredible moments.”
In addition to the moments of athletic glory, Sheets said he also learned important life lessons through sports at Nevada Union.
“As a teenager you don’t want to get up at 6 a.m., go lift weights, go to class and then go to practice, but it teaches you dedication, pride in your work and self motivation. And, I brought that into my everyday life,” he said. “When things get hard I can tap into my athletic days and what I learned there and it helps me get through some tough times.”
What remains with Sheets more than anything else, though, is the life-long friendships forged with his teammates.
“Some of us go all the way back to childhood,” he said. “Some of us were rivals in junior high, then teammates in high school and we’re brothers now.”
After high school, Sheets attended and played basketball at Yuba College, where he was a two-time All-Conference First Team selection and a two-time All-State selection. Sheets led Yuba College to a No. 1 ranking in California as well as two deep playoff runs.
“Yuba College was a really fun time,” he said. “The team I had those two years was like a high major D-I team.”
Sheets garnered a lot of interest from Division I colleges and, after weighing several factors, he chose the University of Maine.
While competing for the Black Bears, Sheets led the team in assists in 2006-07 and was first in 3-pointers made in the America East Conference. By the time Sheets finished his two years at Maine, he had started 58 games, averaged 10.1 points per game and 3 assists. He is currently ranked sixth in school history for made 3-pointers in a single season (79) and ninth in career 3-pointers made (145).
After college, Sheets played one year professionally in Israel.
PLAYER BECOMES COACH
After Sheets’ college and pro playing days came to a close, he didn’t stray far from the game as he delved into coaching for a bit. Sheets coached at Simpson University for a season and spent two more at Maine, becoming one of the youngest Division I assistant coaches at the time.
“It was really cool experience and I learned a lot about the game from the coaches side,” he said.
Sheets, who has participated in mission trips to Mexico through the Calvary Bible Church, has also shared his knowledge and love for the game in other ways, including helping with camps and clinics in the United States as well as Mexico, Colombia and Israel.
Sheets said his parents, Ken and Dana Sheets, deserve a lot of recognition for his success.
“My dad coached, and my mom was a rock star,” Sheets said. “My dad taught me the fundamentals at a very young age. Doing the Pistol Pete drills, throwing the football, the baseball; he encouraged me to do every sport, which helped me develop different skills. He knew how to get the best out of me.
“My mom drove me every morning at 6 a.m. to go work out. She drove us to the games. She was a huge part of my success.”
He also thanked his siblings, Nicole and Ben, for their patience with him, especially after a tough game.
Sheets also credited Dellis with helping him develop the skills to make it at the collegiate level.
“He’s the reason I got to play college basketball,” Sheets said of Dellis. “He let me use my skills to my advantage to help the team. When I needed to take over, he allowed me to do it.”
He added Gary Plunkett, Gene Smith and Mike Bratton were influential coaches as well.
When it came to football, Sheets thanked coaches Humphers, Gary Sharpe, Bruce Kinseth, Brad Dal Bon and Joey Montoya for believing in his ability to lead.
“It was huge that they trusted me to run the team,” Sheets said.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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