WWU Athletes: Champions Off the Court, As Well By Heather Roberts ’05

Solve the following equation: If you take the number one and multiply it by seven, and then multiply the product by 151, what is the total?

For those of you who aren’t math geniuses or just can’t seem to find your calculator, the answer is 1,057.

All 151 collegiate athletes at William Woods University spend approximately one hour a month, during the school year, volunteering their time to help out the community. By the end of the 2003-04 academic year, they will have spent approximately 1,057 hours volunteering through the Champions of Character initiative.

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) kicked off the Champions of Character initiative in 2000. The William Woods Intercollegiate Athletic Department began implementation of the program last year and recently became recognized as a Champions of Character institution.

“The goal of the Champions of Character program is to promote five core values among student athletes: respect, integrity, responsibility, servant leadership and sportsmanship,” said Shawn Snider, the sports information and Champions of Character director at WWU.

“We try to instill the other four character values by focusing on the servant leadership portion. By getting out in the community and serving as volunteers, the athletes get to use these character skills to help out a person or organization that is in need of this service. In the process, they learn quality characteristics they can carry with them through life.”

“Giving back a little bit of time to the community is a great way to get involved,” said Shanna Lonsberry, a William Woods basketball player from Elsberry, Mo. “I have had so much fun hanging out with the team and the people that I have met.”

The WWU athletic teams haven’t wasted any time getting involved with the program and seem to have taken their commitment to the Champions of Character initiative very seriously.

According to Snider, “This past fall the baseball team unloaded trucks for SERVE, the local food pantry. The women’s basketball team volunteered at the YMCA to help chaperone a junior high dance, handed out water at a run/walk and worked to increase breast cancer awareness during the Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Both the men and women’s volleyball teams helped out at a Halloween party for kids at the YMCA. The softball team visited a nursing home to spend time with the residents and also volunteered at a “Parents as Teachers” night in Auxvasse.

The women’s golf team has helped at the YMCA with several Character Counts meetings for middle schoolers. The men’s soccer team helped to fingerprint youngsters at a trick-or-treat held downtown.”

Besides spending numerous hours in the community, every student-athlete and coach signs a pledge and listens to a statement of commitment to the Champions of Character initiative, read by the public address announcer before every home contest.

“It is a great feeling to help out other people and I am very excited that the athletic department has taken on the responsibility of teaching athletes what it means to be a leader, not only on the court but off, said Kandice Cummings, a William Woods women’s volleyball player from Koloa, Hawaii.

When all is said and done, “the program is there to create an expectation of ethical behavior and a commitment to scholarship, sportsmanship and leadership by student-athletes and coaches,” said Snider. “The initiative uses awareness, education and community involvement, to continue to develop an atmosphere of integrity in sport.”

William Woods University has only just begun its commitment to the Champions of Character initiative, but if this year serves as any hint of the future, many more service hours will be added to 1,057.

A calculator is definitely going to be a must.