keeping up with the joneses
Many local celebrities and professional athletes call Mt. Lebanon home. Now that list includes Pittsburgh Steelers backup quarterback Landry Jones and his wife, Whitney, who have been living near the Beverly Road shops for almost two years. Recently, Whitney was named the new head coach of the Seton-La Salle High School girls basketball team.
The pair met and married while attending Oklahoma University. Landry was a highly recruited quarterback in his hometown of Artesia, New Mexico. He led Artesia High School to two consecutive Class 4A state championships and was named New Mexico’s Player of the Year in 2007. Whitney is a native of Fort Worth, Texas, and is the daughter of former major league pitcher Rich Hand (who played for the Indians, Rangers and Angels.) She was a basketball standout who scored 3,649 points to become the second all-time leading scorer in Texas high school girls basketball history.
In college, Landry was a four-year starting quarterback who led the Sooners to four straight bowl appearances, which included victories in the Sun Bowl, Fiesta Bowl and Insight Bowl. He had more than 16,000 yards passing and 123 touchdowns.
Whitney was the roommate of Carlee Roethlisberger (Ben Roethlisberger’s younger sister), and was the Big 12 Freshman of the Year, in addition to being team co-captain. She averaged more than 11 points per game and helped lead the Sooners to the NCAA Tournament in each season she played.
It was fitting that two star athletes, Landry and Whitney, found love while in the spotlight. “We met when we were freshmen,” Landry says. “Whenever freshmen come in, the football and basketball teams stay in the same dorm areas, so we were always meeting in the common area. It went from friendship, then one thing led to another. We started dating and eventually got married.”
Being married in college was out of the ordinary, Whitney says. “We didn’t know when Landry was going to leave college. We wanted to be married when he went to the NFL. It was one of the best experiences ever. It was an adventure that I wouldn’t trade for the world.”
After their careers at Oklahoma, Whitney was selected 32nd overall in the third round of the 2013 WNBA draft by the San Antonio Silver Stars, but couldn’t play pro after multiple knee injuries. The Steelers drafted Landry in the fourth round of the 2013 draft, taken 115th overall. “I remember driving through the Fort Pitt Tunnel,” says Whitney. “I was thinking it was going to be smoky, but it was beautiful and eventually found out that it has a very Midwest feel.”
It didn’t take long for the Joneses to enjoy what the area had to offer. “It was a different experience for us,” says Landry. “We settled in Downtown and got an apartment during my rookie year. It was right across the river from PNC Park and we could sit on our balcony and watch the games. It was really cool.” But eventually, Landry wanted a yard.
The Joneses got their first taste of Mt. Lebanon when they visited the Bower Hill Road home of former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery, now with the Carolina Panthers. In addition, Whitney became an assistant coach at Seton-La Salle. “We love the older homes,” says Whitney. “We love that everyone walks everywhere. We like the neighborhood. It has a great school district and we loved that it was close to the city.”
Landry likes the comfortable feel of the tree-lined streets and sense of community. “Where we bought our house, we have a lot of people our own age,” says Landry. “Our neighbor bought her house just a couple months before we bought ours, so we kind of moved in at the same time.”
The great food is a bonus. “We’ve got all kinds of different places,” says Landry. “We like Bado’s. We like Scoops and we go there to get ice cream quite often. Little Tokyo is a place we like to get sushi. There are all these little restaurants and pockets of places that are pretty close to us, and most of them we do walk to.” Whitney agrees and adds that they have always been foodies. They enjoy the variety of options around town. “We love Il Pizzaiolo,” Whitney says. “We go to Café Io, Lebo Subs, you name it.”
After taking a year break from coaching, Whitney dove into broadcasting last year, including color commentating on the radio for Pitt women’s basketball games. But when her former boss and Seton-La Salle coach Spencer Stefko left this July to become head coach at North Allegheny, the Rebels needed a new head coach. Once the Joneses learned Landry made the roster this year, she returned to Seton as head coach.
Whitney is keeping the Lebo connection strong by bringing on assistant coach Jaclyn Babe, a former Mt. Lebanon High School basketball star, who was an assistant coach at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and played college ball at Central Connecticut.
The Steelers quarterback situation has been fluid this year. With Ben Roethlisberger out for multiple games due to a knee injury, second string quarterback Bruce Gradkowski out with a hand injury and veteran Michael Vick sidelined with a hamstring injury, Landry had to constantly adapt. But in the October 18 game, Jones put on a show for fans, putting up 168 yards and two touchdowns. And just like that, the Monday Morning Quarterbacks had a new hero.
“It’s a great experience,” says Landry. “I love the coaches; the organization. The owners are awesome people. For me and my wife, it’s just been an awesome place to land.”