FOREST, Va. – Jayla Harris of the Virginia Wesleyan University women's basketball team has earned the Marjorie Berkley Scholar-Athlete Award which is given by the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) to the most Outstanding Female Student-Athlete in the conference.
Inaugurated in 1984, the Marjorie Berkley Scholar-Athlete Award is given each spring to member institution seniors and conference sport participants who exhibit the highest athletic, academic, and extracurricular achievements. Ms. Berkley began her collegiate teaching career at then Lynchburg College. Several years later, she moved to Hollins University where she coached tennis, field hockey, and soccer, and served as the athletic director for 30 years.
Harris was a terrific display of what it means to "be a Marlin" both on and off the court. The Fredericksburg, Va. native will go down as one of the top players in program history, finishing her career with a VWU-record 1,931 points which eclipsed the previous mark of 1,910 set by Amy Simpson 33 years ago. This season, Harris was her most dominant, averaging a conference-leading 21.1 points a game which also ranked ninth among Division III players. She hit the 20-point mark in 16 of her 26 games played this season and the 30-point bar three times. Although a dominant scorer, Harris also hit the record books for career assists as her 238 rank seventh all-time.
At the year's conclusion, the senior was showered with numerous awards. Most notable was her Third Team All-America status presented by D3hoops.com, making her just the third player in program history to earn that honor. She was also tabbed the All-South Region and ODAC Player of the Year.
In the classroom, Harris graduated Magna Cum Laude with a 3.71 grade point average as a business major with a focus in accounting. She plans to start the CPA exam process shortly following graduation and assume a position as a tax accountant with Cherry Bekaert, LLC, in January 2020. Soon to be a four-time All-ODAC Academic Team honoree, Harris is a member of Sigma Beta Delta (business), Omicron Delta Kappa (leadership) and Chi Alpha Sigma (collegiate athlete) national honor societies. The eight-semester Dean's List honoree earned the Norfolk Sports Club Award as the most outstanding senior student-athlete at VWU.
Harris' contributions to her communities have been numerous. She has mentored students at all levels of school including girls high school basketball, elementary students, and attendees at Virginia Wesleyan's basketball camps. She volunteered at Norfolk Play Days and helped support LifeNet Health for organ donation and procurement (among other services relating to transplant solutions). Harris volunteered at the Boys and Girls Club in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in 2018, which is the same year she helped organize services and resources for domestic violence victims at Genieve Shelter in Suffolk, Va. She also partnered with Virginia Wesleyan's Black Student Union to create "Munchy Booth," an on-campus food option in an effort to prevent travelling off campus after alcohol consumption.
Harris is just the second Virginia Wesleyan University student-athlete to receive this distinction with Rebecca Bradford of the volleyball team earning the honor in 2010.