Every spring "Diverse: Issues in Higher Education", a periodical devoted to promoting higher education opportunities for people of color in America, seeks nominations from chief academic officers and provosts for student-athletes who excel both in the classroom and on the field of play for the Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar Award.
Named for the Tennis great the, Arthur Ashe, Jr. Sports Scholar Awards to honor undergraduate students who have excelled in the classroom as well as on the athletic field. Inspired by tennis legend Arthur Ashe, Jr.'s commitment to education as well as his love for the game of tennis, U.S. colleges and universities are invited to participate in this annual awards program by nominating their outstanding sports scholars. In addition to their athletic ability and academic performance (3.2 cumulative GPA or higher), Arthur Ashe, Jr. Sports Scholars demonstrate a commitment to community service and student leadership."
Central's head wrestling coach, Tom Carr, put forward, Devontae Fitzgerald, whom he believed excelled at the criteria, for consideration as a candidate. Commenting, "Devontae is a very deserving student-athlete, he has been a pleasure to work with on the mat and off. The award speaks to Devontae's hard work and dedication but it also speaks to the quality of the faculty at Central. They welcomed Devontae from his first day on campus and built strong relationships that and created a personal learning environment which has opened his eyes to the many possible ways he can impact the world for Christ."
Devontae, a sophomore from New Kent, Virginia, has been the foundation of the Tiger wrestling program, since its inception in 2016. During his freshman campaign, he qualified for the NAIA national tournament, by finishing runner-up in the NAIA South Regional. This season, Fitzgerald finished third at the Sooner Athletic Conference tournament following an injury, just missing out on a return trip to NAIA nationals. In 2017 he was selected for by the National Wrestling Coaches Association for their All-Academic team.
In the April issues of "Diverse: Issues in Higher Education", the names of all the athletes named to the "Arthur Ashe, Jr. Sports Scholar" teams were announced. Central's Fitzgerald was on the list, and among the wrestlers listed, he was the only sophomore and had the second highest cumulative GPA, at 3.85.
Devontae will graduate this weekend with his associate's degree, and complete his bachelor's degree in Psychology at Central. After Central Fitzgerald plans to pursue an advanced degree that will allow him to perform marriage and family counseling.