The USA South Athletic Conference recently held a ceremony to honor those earning the Conference's major end of the year awards as well as inducted its 2019 Hall of Fame Class. This event took place on the campus of Averett University on Tuesday, June 11 and recognized winners of its Presidents Cups, Sportsmanship Trophy, Cans Across the Conference Trophy and Pennies for a Purpose Plaque, Male and Female Don Scalf Awards, Postgraduate Scholarship Awardees and Rita Wiggs USA South Woman of the Year as well as its 2019 Hall of Fame Class.
LaGrange men's tennis senior John Mitchell Benton received the Male Don Scalf Award, the conference's award as the Student-Athlete of the Year. Benton is the third LC student-athlete to receive the award, joining Logan Lanier (2017) and Cory Howard (2015). To be eligible for the Don Scalf Award a student-athlete must be either a junior or senior, have participated in a USA South sport earning at least All-Conference recognition and have a minimum 3.00 GPA. The athletic directors vote for the award winner each spring at the conclusion of all Conference schedules.
"So proud of John Mitchell and his journey these past four years," Coach Matt Donnett said. "To watch him flourish in the classroom and on the tennis court was a blessing to witness and be part of. Thanks to LaGrange College and the athletic department for fostering the transformation of student athletes such as John Mitchell. Thank you as well to Commisioner Hart and the USA South conference for awarding John Mitchell this prestigious honor."
Benton also received school's Eagle Award, which is given to the top male and female student-athletes on campus. He was a four-year letterman on the Panther men's tennis team and was a USA South All-Conference first team selection. Academically, Benton graduated with a 3.73 GPA while majoring in history with a minor in coaching and political Science. He was a three-time member of the USA South Academic All-Conference team, a three-time ITA Scholar-Athlete and collected the 2019 Phi Alpha Theta Sue Kafrouni Student of Year Award for highest graduating GPA in the History department.
"This evening was an amazing experience, to be awarded in front of those who made the most difference and impact on my growth during my time at LaGrange College; my coach and my family," said Benton. "Receiving the Don Scalf USA South Male athlete of the year award is extremely humbling, and is a testament to the individuals throughout my journey who motivated me to become better and dream bigger in all aspects of my collegiate career, throughout my time at LaGrange College.
I am so thankful for the opportunity to compete on the DIII collegiate level because it allows for so many opportunities to excel in more areas than just athletics, including areas such as academics, and campus involvement. Becoming involved at LaGrange College allowed me to discover my passion for higher education, and working with college students."
For those interested in watching the event and who were unable to attend, the evening was broadcasted live through the Averett Sports Information YouTube channel and can be viewed by clicking the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhghruBBEPI
Click the following link to view photos from the event: PHOTOS