Georgia Tech triple jumper Bria Matthews receives prestigious honor

Georgia Tech assistant track and field coach Nat page with triple jumper Bria Matthews at the Georgia Tech Invitational April 20, 2019. (Danny Karnik/Georgia Tech Athletics)
Georgia Tech assistant track and field coach Nat page with triple jumper Bria Matthews at the Georgia Tech Invitational April 20, 2019. (Danny Karnik/Georgia Tech Athletics)

A member of Georgia Tech’s track and field team received a high honor Thursday night for her personal and athletic excellence. Senior Bria Matthews was named the collegiate winner of the Coach Wooden Citizenship Cup, recognition for winning six ACC championships (five in the triple jump, one in the long jump) while also earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering and participating in an variety of service initiatives.

Matthews received the award at the annual banquet for the Wooden Cup, sponsored by the Athletes for a Better World organization, at the College Football Hall of Fame. She is the first athlete from an ACC school and also a school in the state of Georgia to win the award.

The 2019 professional winner of the Wooden Cup was Tech golf great Stewart Cink. Former Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel, a Decatur resident, received the Wooden Cup for professional athletes Thursday, while former Georgia kicker Rodrigo Blankenship received the Spirit of ABW Award.

Matthews, from Forest Park High, won three ACC titles (indoor and outdoor titles in the triple jump and an indoor title in the long jump) as a freshman in 2016. She went on to finish 12th at the U.S. Olympic trials in the triple jump that summer.

However, a stress reaction in her right shin (her takeoff leg) that she suffered that fall sidelined her for the next two years and ultimately required surgery. Rather than risk reaggravating the injury, Matthews chose to learn to jump taking off from her left leg. She learned well enough to win three more ACC titles and, in fact, improve upon her school record set as a freshman (45 feet, 2 1/4 inches). She has also earned All-American status four times.

At the same time, Matthews earned her bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, graduating in May 2019 with highest honors. She applied her knowledge by helping develop a portable solar-powered system to charge phones and power LED lights and traveled with her research team in 2018 to deliver the product to residents of a small village in Haiti.

Matthews has also made two other international service trips with Tech athletes and also served local charitable initiatives, as well. Next weekend, she will receive her master’s in electrical engineering.

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