Southern Conference Announces Graduate Scholars
Courtesy: Southern Conference
Release: 03/21/2013
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Courtesy: Southern Conference
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The Southern Conference announced its 10 postgraduate scholarship recipients for the 2012-13 academic year Thursday. The 10 student-athletes will be honored for their accomplishments at the Southern Conference Honors Dinner in Hilton Head Island, S.C., on Wednesday, May 30.

This year’s honorees include Coleman Lew & Associates Graduate Scholarship recipient Kelsey Evans (Elon), Harper Corporation Graduate Scholarship recipient Rachel Brittenham (Wofford), Dave Hart Graduate Scholarship recipient JP Kuhlman (Davidson), Dorothy Hicks Graduate Scholarship recipient Christin Newman (College of Charleston), David Knight Graduate Scholarship recipient Chelsea Sumney (UNCG), Bob McCloskey Insurance Graduate Scholarship recipients Ali Deatsch (Elon) and Demetrios Pagonis (Davidson), William V. Moore Graduate Scholarship presented by McMillan Pazdan Smith recipient Samantha Hodge (Western Carolina) and Southern Conference Presidential Scholarship recipients Emily Allen (Samford) and Moriah Bellissimo (Georgia Southern).

Kelsey Evans, Elon – Coleman Lew & Associates Graduate Scholar
Elon’s Kelsey Evans is the 2013 recipient of the Coleman Lew & Associates Graduate Scholarship. A forward on the Phoenix’s women’s basketball team, Evans is a three-time All-Southern Conference selection and a 1,000-point scorer for her career. Evans will also finish her career as Elon’s career and single-season blocked shots leader. The Phoenix reached postseason play twice in Evans’ career, taking part in the Women’s Basketball Invitational in 2011 and 2013. Elon’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee president, Evans was a researcher for Elon Brain Care and presented research at the Concussion in Athletics Conference at Penn State in October. She was a team leader of anatomy lab teaching assistants and has gone on several school visits as a speaker and tutor. A member of the Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Honor Society, Evans owns a 3.59 grade point average in exercise science. She intends to pursue an exercise science graduate program and medical school after graduation.

Rachel Brittenham, Wofford – Harper Corporation Graduate Scholar
Wofford basketball player Rachel Brittenham is the 2013 recipient of the Harper Corporation Graduate Scholarship. Brittenham, a guard, finished her career as Wofford’s career and single-season assists leader. During the 2010-11 season, she become the first player in school history to record double-doubles with points and assists and points and steals. This year, the Anna Todd Wofford Merit Scholar was selected to the Wofford College Presidential Seminar, which consists of one student from each academic major participating in readings and discussions with Wofford President Dr. Benjamin Dunlap for the semester. Brittenham has volunteered at North Carolina’s Hanging Rock State Park and Connecticut’s Maritime Aquarium and worked as a counselor at Challenge Life, promoting academics and physical health among troubled Alaskan youths. She has also been active in Wofford’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and is a member of the national service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega. A biology and environmental studies double-major, Brittenham owns a 3.77 grade point average and plans to continue her education with postgraduate studies in environmental science.

JP Kuhlman, Davidson – Dave Hart Graduate Scholar
Davidson’s JP Kuhlman has been named the 2013 recipient of the Dave Hart Graduate Scholarship, named in memory of former Southern Conference Commissioner Dave Hart Sr. A guard on the Wildcats’ men’s basketball team, Kuhlman has helped Davidson to SoCon South Division and tournament titles in each of the last two seasons. The 2009-10 SoCon Freshman of the Year, Kuhlman is a 1,000-point scorer for his career and was a Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award nominee and earned a spot on the Cousy Award Watch List as a senior this year. Kuhlman, a religion major, boasts a 3.8 grade point average and was a CoSIDA Capital One third-team All-American in 2012. Off the court, Kuhlman has been involved in Davidson’s chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Davidson Campus Ministry and raised funds for malaria awareness and prevention and the establishment of after-school programs in Nigeria. Kuhlman has also worked with young adults with severe mental and physical handicaps. He will attend the Florida State College of Medicine after graduation.

Christin Newman, College of Charleston – Dorothy Hicks Graduate Scholar
College of Charleston’s Christin Newman is the 2013 recipient of the Dorothy Hicks Graduate Scholarship, which is named after the Southern Conference’s first female faculty athletics representative. A two-time All-Southern Conference tennis player for the Cougars, Newman was the 2012 SoCon Sportsmanship Award winner. She is a two-time ITA Scholar Athlete and owns a 4.0 grade point average in exercise science. Newman helped CofC to SoCon regular-season and tournament titles in 2011 and the tournament title in 2012, when the Cougars won a school-record 25 matches. Newman, a math tutor, has volunteered at the Medical University of South Carolina in the physical therapy clinic and at Moses Cone Hospital. She has also volunteered with the Family Circle Cup’s inner city kids’ clinic, teaching tennis to underprivileged children, and various road races in the Charleston, S.C., area. Newman intends to attend physical therapy school after graduation.

Chelsea Sumney, UNCG – David Knight Graduate Scholar
UNCG cross country and track and field runner Chelsea Sumney has been awarded the David Knight Graduate Scholarship, named after the late Dr. David Knight, the longtime faculty athletics representative at UNCG. An All-Southern Conference performer in both cross country and track, Sumney helped the Spartans to the 2011 SoCon Cross Country Championship team title. In 2012, Sumney, set the indoor track record in the distance medley relay and was an NCAA Regional performer in outdoor track. In the fall of that year, she was an NCAA All-Southeast Regional performer in cross country. A speech pathology major, Sumney holds a 3.73 grade point average and was inducted into UNCG’s Golden Chain Honor Society in 2012. In the community, Sumney has volunteered at UNCG’s Relay For Life and for the FOX8 Gifts for Kids campaign. She has also volunteered at the Brain Injury Association of North Carolina and with the Yogathon For Autism. Sumney plans to continue to pursue her speech pathology studies at the graduate level.

Ali Deatsch, Elon – Bob McCloskey Insurance Graduate Scholar
Elon volleyball standout Ali Deatsch has been awarded one of two Bob McCloskey Insurance Graduate Scholarships. A four-year starter at libero for the Phoenix, Deatsch finished her career as Elon’s Division I career digs leader and single-season aces leader. Deatsch has been active in the community, serving as a student leader for Habitat for Humanity and volunteering with a third-grade class as well as with the Costa Rica Service Learning Course. A physics major, Deatsch has exceled in the field, being recognized by the North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities Undergraduate Research Program for outstanding work in STEM-related undergraduate research. She has presented research at the Biophysical Society’s annual meeting in each of the last two years and her abstract was recently accepted for presentation at the Multifunctional Hybrid and Nanomaterials Conference in Sorrento, Italy. In 2011, Deatsch became the first Elon student-athlete to earn the university’s prestigious Lumen Prize, which comes with a $15,000 scholarship, for her research proposal entitled: Optimizing Heating Efficiency of Magnetic Microspheres for Magnetic Hyperthermia Treatment of Malignant Tumors. She is a member of the physics honor society, Sigma Pi Sigma, and the Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Honor Society. Deatsch has a 3.72 grade point average and will continue her physics education at the postgraduate level.

Demetrios Pagonis, Davidson – Bob McCloskey Insurance Graduate Scholar
Davidson cross country and track and field runner Demetrios Pagonis is a 2013 recipient of one of two Bob McCloskey Insurance Graduate Scholarships. An All-Southern Conference performer in cross country and track, Pagonis was the indoor champion in the 5,000 meters in 2012 and set school records in that event as well as the 3,000 meters. In 2009-10, he was an all-freshman performer in cross country and indoor and outdoor track. As a member of the Davidson chapter of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, Pagonis has helped with several fundraisers and shoe drives. In the classroom, the chemistry major owns a 3.89 grade point average. A CoSIDA Capital One Academic All-District selection, Pagonis earned the Porter Vinson Chemistry Award and a National Institute of Standards and Technology summer undergraduate research fellowship. Pagonis will begin work toward a doctorate in chemistry in the fall.

Samantha Hodge, Western Carolina – William V. Moore Graduate Scholar presented by McMillan Pazdan Smith
Western Carolina soccer player Samantha Hodge is the 2013 recipient of the William V. Moore Graduate Scholarship, presented by McMillan Pazdan Smith. The scholarship is named in memory of former College of Charleston faculty athletics representative and SoCon President Bill Moore. A mathematics major with a 3.94 grade point average, Hodge was a CoSIDA Capital One Academic All-District selection in 2011 and 2012 and a semifinalist for the 2013 Wooden Citizenship Cup. The forward led the Catamounts in goals, assists and points in 2011 and helped Western Carolina to the 2008 SoCon Women’s Soccer Championship title. Hodge is the Western Carolina chapter president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and a Western Carolina Student Government Association representative. From 2011-13, she coordinated the Catamounts’ Pink Zone initiative for breast cancer awareness. She also spent four years tutoring a student with autism. Hodge plans to pursue a master’s in sports administration.

Emily Allen, Samford – Southern Conference Presidential Scholar
Samford’s Emily Allen is the recipient of a Southern Conference Presidential Scholarship. A member of the Bulldogs’ track and field program, Allen began her career as a jumper before adding the throws as a sophomore. In 2012, Allen was the SoCon indoor champion in the triple jump and the outdoor champion in the hammer throw, earning Most Valuable Field Performer honors at the outdoor meet. She also qualified for the NCAA East Regional outdoor meet in the hammer in 2012 and defended her triple jump title at the 2013 indoor meet. In the community, Allen has volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, Project Homeless, the Christian Service Mission and the United Cerebral Palsy Foundation. Allen graduated from Samford a semester early with a degree in accounting, turning in a 3.87 grade point average to graduate Magna Cum Laude. She was a three-time winner of the Brock School of Business Honor Medal and started on her master’s of accountancy at Samford in January.

Moriah Bellissimo, Georgia Southern – Southern Conference Presidential Scholar
Georgia Southern volleyball player Moriah Bellissimo is the recipient of a Southern Conference Presidential Scholarship. A first-team CoSIDA Capital One Academic All-American, Bellissimo helped Georgia Southern to a 25-7 overall record and the SoCon South Division title with a 15-1 league record in 2012. The outside hitter was a second-team All-Southern Conference selection and finished her career with more than 1,000 digs. She also helped the Eagles to the 2010 SoCon Volleyball Championship title. Bellissimo was camp huddle leader for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, volunteered at a soup kitchen and helped raise money for Relay For Life. Georgia Southern’s Women’s Scholar Athlete of the Year as a junior, Bellissimo boasts a 4.0 grade point average in nutrition and food science. She plans to attend Georgia State University to pursue a master’s degree in nutrition and become a registered dietitian.


2012-13 SoCon Graduate Scholars
Name (Institution) Sport Academic Major Graduate Scholarship
Kelsey Evans (Elon) Women's Basketball Exercise Science Coleman Lew & Associates
Rachael Brittenham (Wofford) Women's Basketball Biology/Environmental Sciences Harper Corporation
JP Kuhlman (Davidson) Men's Basketball Religion Dave Hart
Christin Newman (College of Charleston) Women's Tennis Exercise Science Dorothy Hicks
Chelsea Sumney (UNCG) Women's Cross Country/Track Speech Pathology David Knight
Ali Deatsch (Elon) Volleyball Physics Bob McCloskey Insurance
Demetrios Pagonis (Davidson) Men's Cross Country/Track Chemistry Bob McCloskey Insurance
Samantha Hodge (Western Carolina) Women's Soccer Mathematics William V. Moore presented by: McMillan Pazdan Smith
Emily Allen (Samford) Women's Track and Field Accounting Southern Conference Presidential
Moriah Bellissimo (Georgia Southern) Volleyball Nutrition and Food Science Southern Conference Presidential



The Southern Conference, in its 92nd season of intercollegiate competition, is a national leader in emphasizing the development of the student-athlete and helping build lifelong leaders and role models. The conference has been on the forefront of innovation and originality in developing creative solutions to address issues facing intercollegiate athletics. From establishing the first conference basketball tournament (1921) to tackling the issues of freshman eligibility (1922) to developing women’s championships (1984) to becoming the first conference to install the 3-point goal in basketball (1980), the Southern Conference has been a pioneer. The Southern Conference is the nation’s fifth-oldest NCAA Division I collegiate athletic association. 

The conference currently consists of 12 members in five states throughout the southeast and sponsors 19 varsity sports and championships that produce participants for NCAA Division I Championships.

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