College Sports

Local college notes: Former Mercer, Wesleyan and Georgia College standouts advance toward prestigious NCAA award

Washida Blackman of Mercer, Colleen DeGraff of Wesleyan and Shanteona Keys have advanced in the process for the NCAA Woman of the Year award.

The three are on the list narrowed down to 147 from the three NCAA divisions. There are 57 in Division I, 39 in Division II and 51 in Division III.

The selection committee will announce 10 honorees in each division in early September and then three finalists per division later that month.

All three athletes have graduated.

Blackman started all 22 games for the Mercer women’s soccer team, helping the Bears to the Southern Conference tournament. She earned all-tournament honors and was second-team all-conference.

DeGraff was a standout softball player who earned a variety of all-conference and academic honors at Wesleyan and in the Great South Conference.

She was founder and president of the Habitat Club, a Lane Center Servant Leader, and a member of the Golden Heart Splinter Athletic Honor Society. She also served as the lead orientation leader on campus for the past two summers and was heavily involved in the Relay for Life events on campus.

Keys graduated as one of the top players in Georgia College women’s basketball history and an elite player in the Peach Belt Conference, finishing with 1,822 points.

The conference female student-athlete of the year graduated with a 4.0, was a two-time academic All-American and two-time finalist for the Arthur Ashe Leadership Award, as well as earning a spot last year on the Allstate Good Works team.


Tulsa will welcome Mercer on Aug. 21 to open the women’s soccer season for the Bears.

Mercer’s home opener is a week later against Charlotte, part of a three-game home stretch that includes Appalachian State and Tennessee Tech.

Other non-conference visitors are Western Kentucky, UAB and Middle Tennessee State.

Mercer begins Southern Conference play on Sept. 26 at home against The Citadel.


After six seasons patrolling the sidelines for the Georgia College basketball teams, women’s basketball assistant Toby Wagoner has been named a women’s basketball assistant coach at Georgia Southern.

At Georgia College, Wagoner started as a men’s basketball graduate assistant. Then he moved to the women’s team and helped it to three Peach Belt tournament championship games.


Former Mercer men’s golfer James Beale finished the first round of the RBC Canadian Open on Thursday with a 3-over-par 75.

An amateur, Beale is making his debut appearance in a PGA Tour event this week at the Glen Abbey Golf Club.

The Auckland, New Zealand, native tallied two birdies and five bogies. Beale will tee off the second round at 1:55 p.m. on Friday.

Beale earned an exemption into the Canadian Open after winning the 2014 Canadian Amateur after a three-hole playoff.