One of the University of Mobile’s most celebrated athletes will soon continue her career on the professional level. Deonica McCormick has signed to play in Australia’s State Basketball League.

“This opportunity is truly a blessing,” said McCormick, who will head to the land down under on Feb. 23. “My family and I have been through a lot, and it took a lot for us to get here.”

University of Mobile's Deonica McCormick will continue her career professionally in Australia after graduating in May.

University of Mobile's Deonica McCormick will continue her career professionally in Australia after graduating in May.

“One thing I can say is, I never gave up. Dropping out of high school was one of my biggest mistakes, but I told myself right after that, that I would go back to get my GED and get my college degree.”

McCormick kept her promise, and will graduate in May with a degree in business management.

The Biloxi native had a record-breaking year for the Lady Rams in 2013-2014. She averaged 21.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.3 steals, while setting numerous school marks. The 5-foot-8 guard helped UM win the Southern States Athletic Conference tournament title and a berth in the NAIA national playoffs.

As a result of her performance, McCormick earned first-team NAIA All-America honors. She was named the SSAC’s Player of the Year and the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s Small College Athlete of the Year.
“The things she did her senior year are what got here where she is now,” said UM coach Billy Evans. “They (the SBL) wanted a leader and it’s a great opportunity for her, using her talents to go see the world.”

State parks say thanks

Free camping will be offered in Alabama State Parks during Customer Appreciation Days from Feb. 8-12. During this time, campers can stay for up to five nights based upon the availability of campsites.

The free camping applies to both improved and primitive sites, but is not available to extended-stay campers. Also being offered is 50 percent off regular seasonal rates for lodging at parks with hotels and cabins.

“In recent years, our visitors and partners have continued to show their support for Alabama State Parks during tough financial times,” said Greg Lein, state parks director. “These Customer Appreciation Days are intended as a show of gratitude to everyone who enjoys the state’s park system.”

This event applies to all 22 state parks, including Gulf State Park. To take advantage of the deal, contact the individual parks to make reservations. For more details, visit, or call 800-ALA-PARK (252-7275). The direct number to the Gulf State Park is 251-948-7275.

RTJ Golf Trail gains honors

Marriott and Renaissance hotels in North America conducted a guest satisfaction survey during 2014 to rank their top golf locations. Four of the top five sites turned out to be part of Alabama’s Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.

Finishing at No. 5 for the best golf experience was the Grand Hotel Marriott Resort in Point Clear. The Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort in Hoover topped the poll, followed at No. 2 by Auburn Marriott Opelika Hotel at Grand National and at No. 4 by Montgomery Marriott Prattville Hotel at Capitol Hill.

“Having four of the top five Marriott or Renaissance hotels in North America is remarkable, and the result of a great team of hard workers,” said John Cannon, president of Alabama’s RTJ Golf Trail. The idea of the courses came from Dr. David Bronner, CEO of the Retirement Systems of Alabama, who wanted to bring visitors and investors to Alabama while making the state a better place to live.

“Twenty three years ago before the RTJ Golf Trail opened, people would have laughed that Marriott’s top golf experiences were found in Alabama,” Cannon said. “Now it is a proven fact, based on independent surveys conducted for Marriott International.”

The entire RTJ Golf Trail has 26 courses at 11 sites across Alabama. Among those is Magnolia Grove, which offers 54 holes in west Mobile.

Loopers love Mobile Bay

An earlier feature in Upon Further Review discussed boaters who travel The Great Loop. The journey follows the East Coast, advances to the Great Lakes, travels south along many rivers and finally arrives in Mobile Bay. A turn toward Florida starts the course once again.

Among the couples interviewed at the Dog River Marina was a pair of from Castine, Maine, named Karen and Jeffrey Siegel. Along with their dogs, their travel aboard their 53-foot trawler “A Cappella” and produce a boating website called “Active Captain.”

As this was their first trip on The Great Loop, they mounted a GoPro camera on the bridge and shot high-definition, time-lapse video through their travel days. Of interest to local boaters will be their journey along the Alabama Gulf Coast, which can be found on YouTube by searching “Great Loop Videos with ActiveCaptain.” The highlights include videos “T78 — Dog River to The Wharf,” “T79 — The Wharf to Orange Beach,” and “T80 — Orange Beach to Santa Rosa.”

The automatic timer took images every 5 seconds. Their typical 40-mile day would take about 3 minutes of video. It gives the feeling of making the trip on a racing boat, especially down the Intracoastal Waterway.

Anglers to gather in Fairhope

The Salt Water Sportsman National Seminar Series is coming to Point Clear this Saturday. The event, one of only eight taking place across America, is set for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Grand Hotel Marriott Resort.

This marks the 28th year for this popular educational seminar on recreational marine fishing tactics and techniques. The seminar will offer fishing instruction from leading national and local angling authorities, including George Poveromo, host of World of Saltwater Fishing on NBC Sports.

The entry fee is $55. This includes one-year subscription of Salt Water Sportsman magazine. For additional information, visit or call 800-448-7360.

Rams ranked in preseason poll

The men’s tennis team at the University of Mobile is ranked No. 21 in the NAIA Coaches Preseason Poll. The Rams are one of five Southern States Athletic Conference teams in the rankings.

UMobile advanced to the NAIA national tournament for the seventh straight time last season. The Rams return all but one player who saw action in more than one match, including Honorable Mention All-American Marcio Dal Pont and second-team All-Conference selection Karlis Stonis.

The UMobile men and women opened their season last week with wins over Loyola University. The Rams and Lady Rams will return to action on Saturday by hosting Mississippi College at 2 p.m.