The Brenau soccer team celebrates scoring a goal.

Brenau University earns Champions of Character honor

Oct 7, 2020
Kathryne Davis
Shannon Hoolahan runs during a cross country home meet.

For the 11th year in a row, Brenau University was named a Champions of Character Five Star institution by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. The Golden Tigers also achieved gold medal status for the second time in as many years.

The 181 institutions on the list earned points in character training, character recognition, character promotion, community service, team-building activities, and focus on academics, grade-point average and having minimal to no ejections during competition throughout the year. In addition, Brenau helped lead the Appalachian Athletic Conference to being named a Champions of Character Five Star conference. The Golden Tigers were one of the nine AAC teams to earn gold status.

“I’m very proud of the fact that our great student-athletes and coaches place such strong emphasis on this important component of athletics,” said Mike Lochstamphor, vice president of athletics and head soccer coach. “Earning the recognition of a gold level Champions of Character institution for the second straight year demonstrates our ongoing commitment to this program. Additionally, I’m pleased to be a member of a conference that consistently encourages its membership to promote this NAIA program on their campuses.”

Champions of Character emphasizes the NAIA’s Five Core Values of integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership through character-driven athletic programs. The NAIA encourages student-athletes to display the core values on the field, court or track and in the classroom.

Brenau student Jade Echols receives the ball during Brenau soccer’s game against Tennessee Wesleyan.

The Golden Tigers represent the NAIA well by consistently being awarded for academics, dominance in their sport, and contributions to leadership, sportsmanship and community service. In addition, student-athletes are able to serve on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. Representatives from each team meet on a regular basis throughout the year to discuss not only Champions of Character but also other topics related to the student-athlete experience at Brenau and what the students are hearing from their peers.

Andre Ferreira, assistant athletic director, Brenau tennis coach and Champions of Character liaison, said that the Golden Tigers have always done a lot of activities on and off campus, but now have been focusing on adding the Champions of Character component. One of the changes is that a speech is made before the activity to remind spectators and participants about the Five Core Values and how important it is to use them in everyday life.

“It’s nice that our athletic department and conference take this seriously,” Ferreira said. “Our athletes are getting educated and we’re promoting this regularly with them. It needs to be a bigger part of the athletic experience, from children all the way to adults and to parents. It’s amazing how many kids quit sports because they’re not having fun or they feel pressure. When we focus more on these core values, I think that everybody’s experience becomes more positive, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”