One of Johnston County’s athletics legends called it a coaching career last week. Longtime Campbell University women’s basketball coach Wanda Watkins stepped down from that post after 35 seasons.
Watkins is a South Johnston High graduate and rolled up 549 career wins at Campbell. She is only the 10th NCAA Division I women’s head coach to coach for 30 or more seasons at the same institution.
After helping South Johnston to the 1974 NCHSAA state girls basketball championship, Watkins became the first scholarship female athlete in Campbell’s history. She graduated in 1979 and became the school’s head coach two years later.
Watkins led the Camels to conference championships as a coach in 1989 and 2000. Her 2000 team played in the NCAA tournament, falling to Duke in the first round.
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“It is really difficult to put into words the joy the past 35 years of coaching have brought to my life,” Watkins said in a statememnt released by the University. “I want to thank Campbell for the wonderful opportunity to serve as women’s basketball coach, a job I truly loved.
“I also want to express my gratitude to the many student-athletes who have played for us at Campbell. I have been blessed beyond measure to have had the opportunity to be associated with each of them. I am so grateful for the coaches who I have had the opportunity to work alongside over the years, who have made the program one that our alumni and university can be proud of. The loyalty of my current staff is unheard of in today’s world, and I will always be grateful for their devotion and loyalty to Campbell.”
In her new role, Watkins will be a liaison for the office of the athletic director as well as the university president for special projects. She will also serve as a mentor for coaches among the university’s 21 NCAA Division I sports.
“The list of people who have given their entire career and adult life to one institution is infinitely small, and Wanda Watkins is that person who continues to give her all to Campbell University,” director of athletics Bob Roller said. “One visit to her office will show you 35 team pictures of each of her ‘babies,’ as she affectionately refers to her former student-athletes.”
Garner grad in NCAA D2 quarterfinals: Khayani Chandler, a sophomore shooting guard on the Francis Marion University women’s basketball team, has advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division II Women’s Basketball Championship. The Patriots (24-8) defeated Augusta University 72-65 on March 14 in the third round to clinch the Southeast Region Title.
Chandler, a former all-conference selection at Garner High School, scored 11 points and added one block in the win. She averaged nine points and 1.7 rebounds per game in the three regional wins. She has started in four of the 32 games this season for FMU and is averaging 10.4 points and 2.8 rebounds per game.
The Patriots will head to Sioux Falls, S.D., on Tuesday to face the University of Alaska Anchorage.
Parrish is one of 30 up for CLASS award: Campbell’s Matt Parrish has been named one of 30 candidates nationally for the 2016 Senior CLASS Award in collegiate baseball.
To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition.
An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.
Parrish, a West Johnston High grad, is a two-time CoSIDA Academic All-America selection, taking Second Team honors last season as a junior after earning Third Team accolades at designated hitter in 2014. The senior was also named Second Team All-Big South at designated hitter last season, as well as Big South All-Academic.
The 30 candidates will be narrowed to 10 finalists midway through the regular season, and those 10 names will be placed on the official ballot. Ballots will be distributed through a nationwide voting system to media, coaches and fans, who will select one candidate who best exemplifies excellence in the four C’s of community, classroom, character and competition. The Senior CLASS Award winner will be announced during the 2016 College World Series® in June.
Johnson earns PBC Honor: UNC Pembroke sophomore Jamie Johnson was named the Peach Belt Conference softball player of the week for the week ending March 13. Johnson, a North Johnston High graduate, hit .484 (15-for-31), drove in 11 runs, had five doubles, three home runs and nine runs scored in an eight-game stretch.
She hit a grand slam in extra innings to key the Braves’ upset of 17th-ranked Catawba on March 7.