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Pierce Named To NCAA Student-Athlete Engagement Group

Alexis Pierce, a senior on the Jacksonville University women’s basketball team, was recently named as a member of the newly formed NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Student-Athlete Engagement Group (SAEG).

The group, which consists of current women’s basketball student-athletes from all 32 Division I conferences, will serve as an amplifying voice for women’s basketball on key initiatives, legislation and various issues. Pierce will represent the Atlantic Sun Conference.

“When I heard I was selected to represent the ASUN I was extremely grateful,” said Pierce. When asked if there were any goals that she wanted to accomplish while on the committee she stated “Something I wish to accomplish in my lifetime is being able to impact the world in a positive way. SAEG is an organization meant to help and support student athletes all over the world and I believe that with the climate of today’s world we need each other more than ever before. We have to work together to ensure that athletes are heard, and that’s what I plan to do as a member of SAEG.”

Alexis Pierce
Alexis Pierce

The group, which was formed in collaboration with the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA), is the first of its kind at the NCAA and will have a direct connection to the NCAA Division I Student Athlete Advisory Committee and will also serve as a conduit of information from and to the WBCA.

A graduate of Sol C. Johnson High School, Pierce is the daughter of Carolyn and Al Pierce and is pursuing a degree in kinesiology.

Student-Athletes were nominated through the WBCA NCAA Division I Conference Captains program that includes a head coach or captain in each conference with whom the WBCA communicates regularly on important issues. The term of service for each student-athlete will coincide with athletics eligibility for competition. The group will meet monthly via teleconference/ video-conference.

Elaine Saunders
Elaine Saunders

JSU Announces Athletic Facilities Upgrades

Jackson State University Vice President and Director of Athletics Ashley Robinson has announced phase one of the university’s comprehensive athletics facilities upgrade.

Phase one of the upgrades includes the Lee E. Williams Athletics & Assembly Center, the JSU Practice Pavilion and outdoor track that is adjacent to the Walter Payton Health & Recreation Center.

“The student-athlete experience is of the highest priority,” said Robinson. “The majority of time athletes dedicate to pursuing excellence in their respective sports happens within their team’s athletic venue, so it’s crucial that we continue to make our athletic facilities the best they can be.”

Upgrades to the Williams Athletic & Assembly Center include new signage installed and blue, red, and white colors added to the exterior. They also plan to renovate the men’s and women’s basketball locker rooms and add player lounges for men’s and women’s basketball.

The JSU football practice pavilion will have 100 yards of field turf, a steel foundation and covered roof and a outdoor track.

Former Savannah State Women’s Basketball Standout Dies

Former Savannah State women’s basketball player Elaine Parrish Benson Saunders died on September 9, after a long battle with breast cancer. She was 65.

Saunders played for head coach Jimmie Westley and the Lady Tigers from 1975-78. Hailing from Swainsboro, Georgia, Saunders was a standout guard who played on some very good teams while at Savannah State.

One of her better games came in a 90-62 win over the Florida Gators when she scored a gamehigh

24 points in 1976. The following year, SSU advanced to the finals of the Georgia Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women state tournament where they fell to Valdosta State 82-77.

After her playing career ended, the 5-foot-4 Saunders worked as an assistant coach at SSU under Saralyn Truedell during the 1978-79 season.

Before enrolling at Savannah State, she was a dual-sport athlete at Swainsboro High in basketball and track& field. Saunders was a member of the 1973 Swainsboro High GHSA AA state track & field championship team and was inducted into the Swainsboro High Athletic Hall of Fame in 2017.

Funeral services were held for Saunders on Sept. 19 at Forest Lawn Funeral Home & Memorial Gardens in Atlanta.

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