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Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholars 2009 – FEMALE FINALISTS

Shardea Croes is a heavy hitter on and off the softball field. An outfielder, Croes helped lead her team to its first NCAA postseason tournament appearance this year and scored second-team All-Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) honors in 2008. Croes, a rising junior at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania, is expected to earn her second PSAC “Scholar-Athlete” citation in 2008-2009. No stranger to community service, Croes served as an ambassador of Aruba in the Global Young Leaders conference in 2008 and as a coach for this year’s selection of Aruba’s Kingdom Games team. She played in 35 of her 44 games, batted .350 with three doubles, four triples, one home run, 10 RBIs and 23 runs scored all while maintaining a 3.7 grade point average as an exercise science major.

Lamarra Currie, a top sprinter at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, is not motivated by accolades although she’s earned many. With the help of her teammates, Currie brought three consecutive conference titles to Charlotte during both the indoor and outdoor track seasons. In 2008, Currie was named Women’s Outdoor Track & Field Most Outstanding Track Performer and Student Athlete of the Year by the Atlantic 10 Outdoor Track & Field league. She also earned her first ESPN the Magazine Academic First-Team All-American Award this year. When Currie is not busy with her track commitments, she dedicates her time to the Black Student Union and keeping up her 4.0 grade point average. Currie works with the UNC Charlotte Psychology Department as a research assistant. She is also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Marcia Newby has accomplished much as a gymnast in her three years at the University of Georgia, and, with one year left, the possibilities are limitless. This year, Newby was named a recipient of the Ramsey Scholarship for Academic and Athletic Excellence. In 2008, she scored a career high 9.950 on vault in the NCAA preliminaries to earn First-Team All-America honors for the second straight year. She was also named first-team academic All-American by the National Association of Collegiate Gymnastic Coaches. A true student-athlete, Newby maintained a 3.8 grade point average as an applied biotechnology major, while serving as vice president of the student- athlete advisory committee that oversees UGA’s community service efforts. She also coordinated the university’s “Together We Can” food drive that collected more than 1,200 pounds of food.

Ashley Paris, a graduating senior at the University of Oklahoma, is headed back to her home state of California with more than just a college degree in advertising. Paris, the 22nd pick for the Los Angeles Sparks in the 2009 WNBA draft, is headed home with a professional basketball contract. The 6-foot-3 senior forward averaged 12.5 points and 9.6 rebounds per game and recorded 17 double-doubles this season. She is only the fourth player in the program’s history to record more than 1,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds. Paris, who is often overshadowed by her twin sister, Courtney Paris, who also plays for the Sooners, is not fazed by the limelight. A star in her own right, Ashley Paris has 28 career double-doubles — tied for fourth on Oklahoma’s career list — and also made first-team All-Big 12 this season all while maintaining a 3.2 grade point average.

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