OLATHE, Kan. - 11/22/2005 - Contact: Staci Schottman, NAIA Director of Media Relations and Client Services, 913-791-0044, ext. 112
Team Recognized for Exhibiting Exceptional Character Values On & Off the Field
The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and Buffalo Funds will award 23 Buffalo Funds Five Star Awards for each NAIA championship sport. Union University (Tenn.) Men’s Soccer Team was recently awarded the Buffalo Funds Five Star Award for their dedication and implementation of the five character values on and off the soccer field. “There is a strong sense of the importance of being men of integrity and character (about his team),” said Union University Men’s Soccer Coach Darin White. “We put a high premium on being leaders on our campus and in our community. This translates into success on the soccer field in a number of ways – team unity, maturity in decision making and emotional control.”
The 2005 Union Men’s Soccer Team advanced further than any other Bulldog soccer team in the eight year history as they played the defending region champions and six-time national champion Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) in the Region XI Title Game. The team earned runner-up finishes in the TranSouth regular season, TranSouth Tournament and NAIA Region XI Tournament. Over the past few years, White’s team has inched one step closer to the NAIA National Championship Tournament and this year, they were just one win away. Union will return all but two players on a team that will be favored to make that one final step on the road to nationals in 2006.
Union University is one of 210 NAIA schools that sponsor men’s soccer. The university’s men’s soccer team was selected for this award based on the way the team, players and coaches exhibit the Champions of Character ideal. To learn more about Union University visit www.uu.edu.
Union University (Tenn.) – Men’s Soccer
Respect: Union made “respect for the officials” a high priority topic and set a team goal at the beginning of the year to improve significantly in this area. During the 2004 season Union received 12 yellow cards for dissent towards officials. With one 2005 regular season game to go the team had yet to receive a single card for dissent. Union Head Coach Darin White has received numerous communications from officials commenting on the graciousness, class and professionalism his players show on the pitch.
Responsibility: Union players are continuously and individually encouraged to take personal responsibility for attending and earning good grades in all of their classes. Union soccer coaches often tell players that “God comes first, then family, then academics, then soccer.” Union players have risen to the academic standard set for them over and over again. The Union men’s soccer team received the prestigious National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) National Team Academic Award. To receive this honor, the overall team GPA had to be ranked in the top 3% of all men’s soccer teams across all divisions in the United States.
Integrity: The leadership of the team continuously encourages Union players to be “people of honesty and integrity both on and off the field.” Union soccer has seen integrity at the team level surface in a number of positive ways. A Union player and upper classman on the squad requested to have a short team meeting to discuss the topic of integrity as it relates to specific drills. He talked about the importance of always telling the truth and stressed the importance of integrity in specific drill situations and how individual actions can drive team unity.
Servant Leadership: Servant leaders seek to serve others while striving to become a personal and team leader. Servant leadership was best demonstrated by our team when we were in the middle of a practice session during summer training camp. During a water break we learned of the tragic death of the mother of one of our international students, Titus, at Union University. His mother, who just arrived from Romania, was killed in a car accident a few days before his wedding. The team immediately stopped the practice and spent some time in prayer for Titus. The next day players learned that Titus did not have enough money to fly his five siblings over to the U.S. for the funeral. The Union men’s soccer team took it upon themselves to do a massive fundraiser to help the family. Players completed over 200 man hours of work and raised over $2000 for Titus and his family.
Sportsmanship: Union Head Coach Darin White commented that cards have been a huge struggle for his team. Over the last three years the team received an average of 67 total cards per season and 10 red cards per season. This year, team leadership and sportsmanship was strongly stressed before each match and in weekly team talks. The results have been dramatic. The team into late October had not received one red card and has reduced the number of yellow cards by 72%.
A leader in the development of student-athletes, the NAIA is committed to changing the culture of sport through Champions of Character. Founded in 1937, the NAIA continues to be a pioneer in implementing exceptional standards for academics, diversity, and character. Today, the NAIA sponsors 23 collegiate championships in 13 sports for its nearly 300 member institutions throughout the United States and Canada. To learn more about the NAIA visit www.naia.org.
Buffalo Funds is the Official Sponsor of the Champions of Character program. Buffalo Funds assists in the Champions of Character program growth and is the title sponsor of the NAIA Men’s Division I Basketball National Championship. To learn more about Buffalo Funds visit www.buffalofunds.com.
Phone: (731) 661-5027
Fax: (731) 661-5182