Student-athletes at William Woods University pride themselves in bringing respect, responsibility, integrity, servant leadership and sportsmanship to the forefront, not only of their sport, but of their personal lives as well.
They have adopted—and embraced—the Champions of Character core values.
Champions of Character is a program of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) designed to promote character development in youth and change the culture of sport.
The NAIA is currently featuring testimonials from William Woods University student-athletes on its website (www.naia.org).
The Champions of Character program, started in 2000, is designed to instill an understanding of character values in sport and provide practical tools for student-athletes, coaches and parents to use in modeling exemplary character traits.
Jason Vittone, sports information director at WWU, came up with the idea of using student testimonials on the William Woods website.
“I thought it would be an interesting idea for students to do it and it turned out really well,” he said.
After placing the information on the WWU athletic site, Vittone sent the link to the NAIA Champions of Character coordinator. The NAIA decided to use it as one of the four story rotations on the home page.
“I was so happy that the students were able to be recognized at the national level for the effort they put into writing what those values meant to them,” said Vittone.
Larry York, athletic director at WWU, is proud of the athletes and what they had to say.
“The article says more about who our athletes are than anything else. Our athletes can verbalize what those core values mean to them. Even if they (NAIA) hadn’t recognized us, the fact that our athletes can speak about those core values with such clarity and understanding says that we are doing something right and that is the most important thing.”
Cross country runner Levi Bates wrote about sportsmanship: “Sportmanship is being humble before and after a competition. It is using appropriate behavior on and off the playing field.”
In her testimonial about respect, volleyball and basketball player Sky Wade said, “Not only does one respect themselves but also the coach, teammates, and the opponent. Respect oneself by pushing yourself mentally and physically. . .take pride in the sport, the organization, the team.”
Gabe George, a member of the golf team, commented on servant leadership: “I feel extremely privileged to be an athlete at William Woods. I feel that part of being a leader is to give back to those in the community who need our help.”
Regarding integrity, baseball player Kyle Proebsting said, “Without responsibility and integrity we would not be able to strive and work towards goals that we set not only as a team, but also as individuals.”
Three softball players—Rachel Nachtweih, TJ Quick and Liz Baker—worked as a team to provide a testimonial on responsibility.
“Academic responsibility is a priority on our team. . .practice is our second main concern. . .(and) as college athletes we are responsible to keep up our softball team’s reputation. . .All the girls understand that our actions reflect on not only ourselves but on our softball team and William Woods University.”
Every month, the WWU Champions of Character athletic site will showcase five new student-athlete testimonials.