Jon Brooks Elia could be described as a man for all seasons.
During his high school career at El Dorado, Elia was the medalist at the 5A State Golf Tournament as a junior, and he helped guide the Wildcats to the state championship as a sophomore.
Elia returned to the gridiron as a senior and he played basketball through his freshman year. He also has participated in archery and when he does have some free time he enjoys hunting.
Elia also has plenty of prowess in the classroom with a 3.94 grade point average. Thanks to that work, Elia is a finalist for El Dorado News-Times Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
Elia said his mom keeps him focused on the books.
“She always makes sure that I’m keeping up on everything,” Elia said. “She definitely holds me accountable. She’s always there pushing me to do the best I can, making sure I’m doing my homework, schoolwork, studying, all of that.”
Elia will be attending Louisiana Tech with a focus on mechanical engineering.
“I’m thinking about mechanical engineering right now,” Elia said. “I have a friend that did that, and he said he really enjoyed it. He started out making pretty good money straight out of college.”
Elia added he isn’t sure about which profession he will choose.
“I’m not 100% sure. I know there’s a lot of options that you have,” Elia said. “Louisiana Tech provides a lot of opportunities to pursue that. They have a really good engineering program there.”
But one thing that is a certainty with Elia is that math is his favorite subject, and that along with a friend’s recommendation helped steer him to focus on engineering in college.
“It involves a lot of math. That’s my strong suit for sure,” Elia said. “I’ve really always liked math. It didn’t matter which subject I was taking, it was always my favorite class.”
Elia’s passion for golf comes from his dad.
“It’s him for sure,” Elia said. “When I was growing up, he would just take me out there with him and I would watch him play. I just wanted to do whatever he was doing. That’s the reason I got into golf.”
With his success individually and the team’s, Elia had the opportunity to head to North Carolina to play several of the golf courses at Pinehurst Resort, which will be hosting the U.S. Open next year.
“They take all of the state champions, so my sophomore year, we made it,” Elia said. “They invited all of the teams that won state, and (Chris) Ezell took us as a team, so I was there with the whole team. My junior year, I went with my dad and we played. It was crazy. I just soaked it all in. It was pretty cool to play some of the best courses in the country.”
So what was it like to play such challenging courses?
“It was kind of cool,” Elia said. “I have Mystic Creek, and it’s right up there with those courses. I wouldn’t say they’re much better at all than Mystic. It’s crazy that we have that here in El Dorado. I think it prepares all of us. We’re super lucky to get to practice out there.”
For most of his career at El Dorado, Elia’s focus was on golf, but as a senior, he elected to also play football for the first time since his freshman year.
“My family wanted me to,” Elia said. “They’re big on football and I enjoy it too. The bond with all of my teammates, I missed that. I wasn’t as close with those guys as I had been. I played seventh, eighth and ninth with them and we were all like brothers. I kind of lost that, so I wanted that back too.”
By adding football while also playing golf, Elia had to find a way to balance playing two sports while also staying on top of his work in the classroom.
“It was really hard because I was missing school three days a week during that time too,” Elia said. “I was always doing something on the bus. I would be trying to review what they were going over in class. My teachers would post the assignments and I would have to look them over on the bus traveling whether it was football or golf.”
Elia said playing golf and football was a tough challenge.
“That was pretty stressful on me,” Elia said. “I missed two practices a week to go to golf matches. I never got to practice golf because I didn’t get out of football practice until late. I would just go to the golf matches and be at football practice two days a week and go to the game.”
Elia added the time away from the golf course affected his scores.
“The first half of golf season was before football season started, so the first half of golf season, I was either winning my matches or finishing right there at the top,” Elia said. “At the end, once football came in, I started falling off a little bit. My game wasn’t as good as it was earlier in the season.”
With a pair of state titles, Elia leaves El Dorado as one of its most decorated golfers, and he will continue to play while staying up to date with the latest trends in sports.
“I think golf is a great game you can play until you’re old,” Elia said. “I really enjoy it. Some of my closest friends play golf, so anytime we can go out there, it’s sort of a getaway for me.”