LaGrange College men's tennis senior John Mitchell Benton has been selected for the USA South Athletic Conference's most prestigious award honoring one male and one female as the Student-Athletes of the Year. These student-athletes are recognized as recipients of the Don Scalf Award. 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.
The award is named in honor of Don Scalf, whose commitment to the student-athlete, guardianship of the value of academic achievement and devotion to the principles of Division III athletics set a standard that holds steadfast in the Conference today. He taught for 36 years and coached for 18 at N.C. Wesleyan College. He also served as Athletic Director at N.C. Wesleyan for six years. During his coaching career his teams won Dixie Intercollegiate Athletic Conference basketball and golf championships. In addition, he was a founding father of the DIAC in 1963 and served as its Secretary-Treasurer for 25 years.
Benton concluded his senior year this spring by receiving the 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.
Benton's campus activities included a three-year term as Student-Athlete Advisory Committee President, three years as a Residential Advisor and three years as Delta Tau Delta Recruitment Chair. He was the LaGrange Campus Circle Sponsorship Coordinator, a LC Circle K Member and was on the LC Healthy Campus Task Force. Additionally, Benton was a Sponsorship Coordinator for LC Campus Circle, working with young adults with disabilities who are out of high school, attempting to provide them with a collegiate experience. Finally, Benton occasionally spent time with children with disabilities at the LaGrange, Georgia Discovery Cottage and read to elementary school students.