When it comes to being a girl dad, Jonathan Jones is entering his prime.
His daughter Skylar, now seven-years-old, is getting old enough to pursue her own interests in athletics and academics. Naturally, he's assumed a role as her built-in coach, but her growth has him thinking about her future more than ever.
As someone who leveraged hard work and passion into an NFL career as an undrafted free agent, Jones wants to ensure Skylar can pursue whatever path she wants when she grows up. To support that mission, his Next Step Foundation teamed up with Play Like A Girl for the NFL's My Cause My Cleats initiative.
"My team reached out. I love their cause," Jones said. "We reached out to them and it just was a perfect collaboration with my daughter and the things we do with my foundation with the youth. Right now, just empowering women -- that's the specific area that we're targeting right now."
Play Like A Girl serves to teach the transferable skills girls gain from sports to give them a competitive edge in the classroom, and ultimately, propel them into made-dominated careers in STEM one day.
That competitive edge is something Jones already sees in Skylar, and as she gets more involved in gymnastics, basketball, and science in school, he's made it a point to foster that excitement.
"Watching her grow, just watching her development through school and through sports, she's really smart," Jones said. "Seeing her day-by-day progressions and looking at the reality of life, you see opportunities for women growing and growing. I definitely want to be a part of that."
Jones recently got her a science kit, and loves watching Skylar do different experiments. He can't believe how smart she already is, and now that she's starting to understand football, he's subjected to her analysis of his game.
"She's my worst critic," Jones said of Skylar. "If I make a bad play, she says, 'Dad, you dropped the interception." She's my worst critic, but she loves it. She loves the game. She loves sports. It's beautiful as a parent to sit back and watch your kids grow."
With that comes the urge to make sure no major obstacle stands in her way.
In a collaboration with Play Like A Girl's programming, which connects girls with inspiring female role models and mentors, he can help show Skylar and girls all around the world what is possible.
"To see it just makes it more tangible," Jones said.
"It's easier to follow in people's footsteps. Women are leading the way right now in so many avenues that used to be male dominated, and there's so many different avenues that they're able to pursue now. It's only going to get better."
Learn more about the Next Step Foundation, Play Like A Girl, and other organizations the Patriots are supporting for My Cause My Cleats.