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Nov. 18, 2008

COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina junior defender Blakely Mattern became the program’s first Academic All-America First Team selection when she was named to the 2008 CoSIDA ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America team Tuesday. Mattern becomes the sixth Gamecock Academic All-America selection as the honor marks the fourth consecutive season that a member of Coach Shelley Smith’s team has earned the distinction.

South Carolina is one of five Division I schools to have had a CoSIDA (College Sports Information Directors of America) Academic All-America selection each of the past four seasons, joining Charlotte, North Carolina, Notre Dame and Penn State as programs to hold that distinction. Mattern joins Erin Sullivan (2007-third team), Annie Galloway (2006-second team), Kimmy Criss (2005-third team), Kanika McAlpine (2002-second team) and Jennie Ondo (1999-second team) as Gamecock women’s soccer selections since the program’s inception.

“It’s a well-deserved honor,” Smith said. “I’m excited for her to be recognized not just on the field but for what she does off the field with her academics. Blakely’s one of the most dedicated student-athletes you can find. It’s nice that she can be rewarded with an honor such as an Academic All-American distinction.”

The Gamecocks are tied for eighth all-time for the most women’s soccer CoSIDA Academic All-America selections.

“I’m very proud of the fact we’ve had four strong student-athletes represent our program the past four years in addition to Kanika and Jennie,” Smith said. “We take a lot of pride not just in athletic performance but in academic performance as well. To be able to do well in both areas is a total success as student-athlete.”

Mattern (Simpsonville, S.C./JL Mann HS) has maintained a perfect 4.0 grade point average while at South Carolina. She is a two-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll and is currently pursuing a degree in business administration with a focus in international business. A team captain that played every minute for the Gamecocks this season and finished with four goals for eight points, Mattern became the first All-American in program history last season when she was named to the Soccer Buzz team following a strong season that saw her become the first sophomore in conference history to earn SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors. She is a three-time All-SEC honoree and has led the team to eight shutouts this season, tied for second in the conference. Carolina’s 29 shutouts since 2006 are the second-most achieved of all conference teams.

“She’s someone that represents our program well on the field and in the classroom,” Smith said. “She’s obviously been an outstanding athlete for us, but she’s also shown that she can do her best in the class and on the field. I think its an impressive feat as a junior to be on the first team, so she has an opportunity to earn that accolade again in her senior year, which I’m sure she’ll be in for a nomination if she continues to work hard.”

To be eligible for Academic All-America honors, a student-athlete must be a varsity starter or key reserve, maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.30 on a scale of 4.00, have reached sophomore athletic and academic standings at his/her current institution and be nominated by his/her sports information director. Since the program’s inception in 1952, CoSIDA has bestowed Academic All-America honors on more than 14,000 student-athletes in Divisions I, II, III and NAIA, covering all NCAA championship sports.