LUMBERTON — As former Campbell University and West Bladen High School basketball player D.J. Mason imparted some of his keys to success in life to a room full of some of the top student-athletes and their families and coaches from Robeson, Bladen and Scotland counties, he kept going back to the same key word, “Grind.”
Grinding to the rigors of a tough class schedules, busy sports seasons and numerous extracurricular activities is something that the student-athletes who were being recognized at the Mountaire Farms/Civitas Media Scholar-Athlete of the Year banquet held at Pinecrest Country Club are well accustomed to.
“Have respect and confidence, and keep grinding and everything will fall into place,” he said.
The banquet honored the 10 student-athletes that won the monthly honors and the $1,000 scholarship, as well as recognize the two student-athletes who were named male and female Scholar-Athlete of the Year awards. Purnell Swett’s Matthias Carter and East Bladen’s Lacey Suggs earned those honors and the additional $2,500 scholarships.
“I did put in a lot of hard work, especially in my athletics and academics because those are two of the most important things in my life,” Suggs said. “It feels good seeing it all paid off.”
Carter played baseball and basketball at Purnell Swett High School and graduated in the top 20 of his class with a 4.2 weighted GPA. Carter will attend Methodist University and will continue his baseball career as well as major in pre-pharmacy.
Carter was named all-county and all-conference as a junior and senior on the baseball field and led the Rams with .413 batting average and a Southeastern Conference-leading 39 runs scored out of the leadoff spot. As a senior on the basketball court, Carter was named all-county and all-conference.
Suggs played basketball, softball, soccer and volleyball at East Bladen High School and finished with a 4.7 weighted GPA. Suggs will attend UNC-Wilmington where she will play basketball.
Suggs was the three-time Four County Conference Player of the Year in basketball with 2,139 points and earned all-conference in volleyball and soccer as a senior. She averaged 22.4 points and nearly 10 rebounds per game on the hardwood, tallied 159 kills in volleyball and netted 41 goals in the soccer field in her final season with the Lady Eagles.
“It’s such an honor all these things that are coming through,” Suggs said. “I didn’t think I was going to be getting all these accolades I’ve received in the past few years. It’s just crazy.”
Mason’s words were something that Suggs feels she can relate to and learn from going forward into college.
“He had a good story and I can relate to how he said all those key things,” she said. “Especially all those things going into college just like he did.”
Jonathan Bym is a sportswriter for The Robesonian in Lumberton.