Golden Tigers Earn National ‘Champions of Character’ Honor for Sportsmanship and Service
For the second year in a row, Brenau has posted a “silver star” rating in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Champions of Character program that celebrates college athletes’ in-game sportsmanship on the field, on-campus integrity and community service.
Basing its scores on a wide range of criteria, the NAIA states on its Champions of Character website that teams that receive the prestigious designation “demonstrate in everyday decisions integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership.”
Brenau’s score of 85 on a 100-point scale for the 2014-15 academic year placed it just shy of the highest “gold-star” rank on the Champions of Character checklist.
Brenau Athletic Director Mike Lochstampfor said student-athletes are often mischaracterized as having interests related only to the field, gym or swimming pool. However, he said those participating in Brenau athletics programs are deeply committed to community service activities.
For example, in the past year Brenau’s student-athletes and athletics program personnel have participated in Special Olympics outreach, Habitat for Humanity builds and numerous booster club activities for local elementary, middle and high schools.
The Golden Tigers competitive cheerleading squad alone volunteered for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Toys for Tots and Boys & Girls Club of America events and activities. In fact, head coach Krista Britt requires all her cheerleaders to perform 10 hours of community service a year.
Brenau encourages athletes to complete an NAIA Champion of Character online training academy, as institutions only receive Champions of Character points if all student-athletes on campus finish the program. Members of individual teams as well as athletic department leadership also routinely discuss prospective community and on-campus service projects that will attract attention of the Champions of Character scorekeepers.
“We spend a lot of time mirroring the Champions of Character themes,” Lochstampfor said. “We help mentor our athletes and educate them on what it means to be a good student-athlete, a good citizen and representative of the values the NAIA and Brenau University celebrate.”
Britt said Golden Tigers athletes have a responsibility to represent the Brenau ethic in all aspects of their lives. “It’s not always about winning and placing well,” she said. “It’s just as important what we do outside of competitions.”
Andre Ferreira, Brenau’s head tennis coach, says the NAIA ranking system is a comprehensive process that takes everything from player ejections to promotion of the Champions of Character initiatives on athletic websites into consideration.
The recognition, he said, is truly a team effort between the athletic department and the larger Brenau community.
“The silver-level recognition is the result of months of work and hours of effort from so many people in our community,” he said. “It’s a commitment that goes beyond the athletic fields and competition. We’d like to continue to grow this initiative on the Brenau campus, raise the bar and aim for the gold status.”