Dr. Ray Gaskins Award for Academic Excellence In Athletics given

Published 10:50 am Friday, April 15, 2022

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Being a student-athlete and excelling in the classroom and on the field requires a high level of focus and commitment.

On National Student-Athlete Day, Longwood and philanthropist Dr. Ray Gaskins recognized the work of lacrosse midfielder Harper Melton and baseball pitcher Andrew Potojecki by naming them the recipients of the Dr. Ray Gaskins Award for Academic Excellence in Athletics.

Melton and Potojecki are the second recipients of the award, which is given to two student-athletes who have a minimum 3.6 grade point average and who have demonstrated consistent commitment to both athletic and academic excellence.

“It is really special to be able to recognize the work of some of our amazing student-athletes on National Student-Athlete Day,” said Longwood athletic director Michelle Meadows. “Thank you to Dr. Ray Gaskins for his generous support and recognition of student-athlete academic and athletic excellence.”

Melton, a Farmville native, is a junior and is majoring in communication studies with a concentration in digital media. Melton has been named to the President’s List three times and the Dean’s List once. She holds a cumulative 3.8 GPA.

She has played in all 10 lacrosse matches this season and has scored a trio of goals along with one assist, including in every conference match for Longwood. Each of her past two goals came within the final second of a half. In her Lancer career, she has played in 28 games and has five goals and one assist.

Potojecki, meanwhile, has grown into a leader for the Lancer baseball program. The junior is majoring in business administration with concentrations in both management and marketing, and he is also a regular on the Dean’s List, being named to it three times, with a 3.7 cumulative GPA.

This season, the right-hander has turned into Longwood’s Friday night starter, and he has won five of his seven appearances so far. The Lancers have won his past four starts as he has provided a calming presence on the mound, and he has pitched at least five innings in every start this season on his way to a 5-1 record. In his Longwood career, he holds a 7-4 record across 92 innings that span 25 appearances.

The Dr. Ray Gaskins Award for Academic Excellence in Athletics provides two scholarships of $2,500 that will be applied to each student-athlete’s tuition for the coming academic year. The scholarship was made possible by a generous donation from the Gaskins estate of $250,000 that will help the awards live on in perpetuity, which, once realized, will increase the annual awards to two $5,000 scholarships.

Gaskins, a member of the Lancer Club Advisory Board and a longtime Longwood basketball season-ticket holder, has funded scholarship opportunities for Longwood students involved in various aspects of student life and pursuing several different areas of study.

Among the scholarships established by his gifts are the Dr. Ray A. Gaskins Basketball Scholarship, awarded to a member of the Longwood men’s basketball team; The Mrs. Bessie M. Land Gaskins Teacher’s Scholarship, awarded to a student who plans to become a teacher; The Dr. Ray A. Gaskins Math & Computer Science Scholarship, awarded to a student majoring in either math or computer science; The John Allen Gaskins Scholarship, awarded to a student majoring in the College of Business and Economics; The Elsie M. Small Scholarship, awarded to a student majoring in the College of Education & Human Services; and The Beverly Gaskins Vincent Scholarship Fund, also awarded to a student majoring in the College of Education & Human Services.

A 1972 graduate of Virginia Tech who earned his Ph.D. in statistics, Gaskins is a career educator who was a member of the mathematics and computer science faculty at Hampden-Sydney College for 27 years. Since his retirement in 1997, his affinity for Longwood athletics has evolved into philanthropy and leadership positions. He previously committed more than half a million dollars to Longwood athletics in 2015 to fund the Dr. Ray A. Gaskins Basketball Scholarship, which was part of a larger gift of more than $1 million to Longwood University.