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08/14/2013

Softball Star Brings Message about Growing Up at Winthrop to Convocation

Quick Facts

 Convocation, set for 4 p.m. on Aug. 19 in Byrnes Auditorium and traditionally held the day before classes begin, serves as an official welcome to new freshmen and their induction into the Winthrop community of learners.
 Keynote speaker Janiva Willis came to Winthrop from Canada and blazed a trail in the classroom and on the softball field.

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Janiva Willis

ROCK HILL, S.C. – A successful teen counselor and former member of the Winthrop and Canadian National softball teams will share her story at Convocation.

The event, which is set for 4 p.m. on Aug. 19 in Byrnes Auditorium and traditionally held the day before classes begin, serves as an official welcome to new freshmen and their induction into the Winthrop community of learners. Offices will close so that all faculty and staff will be able to attend the ceremony.

Keynote speaker Janiva Willis came to Winthrop from Canada and blazed a trail in the classroom and on the softball field. A three-time Big South Conference All-Academic Team selection, she was voted the 2005 Big South Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Following her senior year in 2005, Willis was named the NCAA's South Carolina Woman of the Year and was a Top 10 Finalist for NCAA National Woman of the Year.

Along with a bachelor of science’s degree in physical education and a minor in biology in 2005, Willis also earned a master’s degree in social work in 2008.

Willis is known as one of the best power hitters in Winthrop softball history. She was a four-time All-Big South Conference selection in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005. Her batting skills helped earn her a spot on the Canadian National Team in 2005 and 2007.

She still ranks first in three different Winthrop career categories including doubles (51), bases on balls (90) and total bases (500), and ranks second in career home runs (30), runs scored (174) and is third in total hits (245).

Now a clinical supervisor for multisystemic therapy with at-risk teen-agers, Willis works at Youth Villages in Charlotte, N.C. She recently received a Sustained Excellence Award for her work in MST, an award for being in the top 1 percent internationally for her work with emotionally troubled teens and their families.

President Jayne Marie (Jamie) Comstock will preside at her first Convocation ceremony since taking Winthrop’s helm on July 1. New students will be welcomed to Rock Hill by Kathy Bigham ‘73, chair of the Winthrop University Board of Trustees; Doug Echols ‘77, mayor of Rock Hill; Chris Aubrie, chair of the Council of Student Leaders; and John Bird, faculty representative.

Immediately following the ceremony, Comstock and her husband, Larry Williamson, will lead students out of Byrnes and toward Tillman Hall in the traditional Blue Line procession.

The community picnic will follow on the lawn in front of Tillman Hall and Margaret Nance Hall at 5 p.m. ESPN 730 will air its radio talk show from the Bancroft Hall porch and will interview several university coaches. The rain location for the picnic is the Lois Rhame West Health, Physical Education and Wellness Center.

For more information, contact Judy Longshaw, news and media services manager, at 803/323-2404 or e-mail her at longshawj@winthrop.edu.


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