Bruins Build Champions On and Off the Field
Bellevue University student-athletes have matched their competitive success with their efforts in the community. The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) recently named Bellevue University a Five Star Champions of Character Institution for the 2009-2010 academic year. While five of the six Bruin athletic squads won Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference regular season and/or tournament championships during the 2009-2010 school year, Bellevue University student-athletes were also hard at work in the community. The Five Star Champions of Character designation is awarded to schools who have demonstrated commitment in five key areas: integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship, and servant leadership.
"The spirit of the NAIA and Bellevue University is to develop more than just great competitors. It’s a privilege for our student-athletes to be a part of Bellevue University athletics, and it’s important they give back to the community," said Bellevue University Athletic Director Ed Lehotak.
Bellevue junior volleyball player Maureen Wardian participated in the NAIA’s Champions of Character Special Olympics event this year at the NAIA National Volleyball Tournament: "I wish that every NAIA athlete could experience the excitement and pure joy on the faces of the Special Olympics athletes. When we work with these kids, we’re not just teaching volleyball, we’re learning how to appreciate the simple things in life." The day before the first tournament matches, student-athletes from every team teach volleyball skills to Special Olympics athletes. "My favorite memory from this year's nationals Champions Event was having athletes who recognized my team from last year," said Wardian.
As part of the Champions of Character program, Bruin coaches and student-athletes have initiated and implemented a number of community service projects in the local community, including food drives, volunteering time at local shelters, and reading to elementary-school children.
"The student-athletes have been fantastic, and everyone has put in a great effort and represented our school in a very positive manner. Their upbeat attitude and high energy is contagious and rubs off on the people they meet," said, Matt Briggs, head men’s soccer coach and Champions of Character Coordinator for the Bellevue athletic department. According to Briggs, the experience is beneficial for all involved: "The athletes and the people we meet, all leave that experience with a smile on their face."
The NAIA, headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri is the governing body for athletics programs at its nearly 300 colleges and universities, including Bellevue University.
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