(DANVILLE, VA) - The USA South Athletic Conference recently presented former Averett University softball student-athlete Jessica Long the USA South's Female Don Scalf Award and the Rita Wiggs USA South Woman of the Year Award. USA South Commissioner Tom Hart was on the Averett campus to present the award on Saturday, September 23.
Each year the USA South Athletic Conference presents its most prestigious awards by 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. To be eligible 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.
This 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.
The NCAA Woman of the Year award honors student-athletes who have distinguished themselves throughout their collegiate careers in the areas of academic achievement, athletics excellence, service and leadership. The USA South Woman of the Year Award is named after former Conference Commissioner Rita Wiggs. Wiggs, a tireless advocate of women's collegiate athletics as well a constant encourager of service to one's community, was the USA South's first full-time Commissioner serving the League for 16 years. In the spring of 2016 she was inducted into the USA South Hall of Fame.
Long, a former standout on the Cougar softball team, concluded her collegiate career last spring when she was named an All-American for the third time and All-Region for the fourth year. She was a four-time USA South All-Conference Team member, a two-time League Player of the Year and the 2014 Conference Rookie of the Year. Long led her team to one Conference Regular Season and Tournament Championship as well as two trips to the NCAA Tournament. She earned Averett's female senior student-athlete of the year honor as well as its Barbara Kushubar Award as the overall female student-athlete of the year. Additionally, Long was named the USA South's Female Don Scalf Award winner as the Conference's top female student-athlete becoming the fourth to earn both honors.
Academically, Long graduated as a member of two national honor societies and a 3.74 GPA which earned her the Top GPA Award for an Averett senior female student-athlete. She was a four-time member of the USA South Academic All-Conference team and was named a 2017 Academic All-American. Additionally, Long was the recipient of the 2016-17 Elizabeth and James Bustard Distinguished Award which is awarded to one or more graduating seniors who excel in high ideals of living, in spiritual qualities and in generous service to others, for use in higher education.
Finally, Long gave her time away from the softball diamond and classroom in several different ways. Long was a member of Averett's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee as well as volunteering at the Alamance Regional Pediatric Rehab in Burlington, N.C., Peak Resources in Graham, N.C., and at the Dan River Region's Week to Engage working with the Boys & Girls Club and Special Olympics.