Vanguard Building Champions of Character

Vanguard University receives the Champions of Character Five Star Award. The Champions of Character program promotes universities who foster character-driven intercollegiate athletics and competitive athletics, academic excellence and character values simultaneously. According to the results of the 2009-2010 Champions of Character Scorecard released on October 14, many NAIA institutions are making the grade and instilling character-driven values in student-athletes all across the nation.

Vanguard is one of 204 universities and colleges awarded the Champions of Character Five Star Award, an award given to those institutions who scored 60 or more points on the Champions of Character Scorecard.

Vanguard University’s intercollegiate athletic program has been building character in its student-athletes as a proud member of the Champions of Character program since 2005. Champions of Character is a nonprofit organization that aims to change the culture of sport by implementing five core values: integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership. Vanguard is also currently a program center for the Champions of Character program.

At Vanguard, it is both a privilege and honor to be able to participate and compete in intercollegiate athletics, so student-athletes are not only expected to be committed academically and athletically, but also spiritually. Champions of Character allows for the student-athletes to do just that.

“When our athletes embrace and apply the character values we believe in, it deepens our relationships and creates a close family. Everyone is excited to be part of something greater than one’s individual self. Furthermore, it is our goal to take these valuable character traits beyond ourselves. It is our desire to be role models, show others we truly care about them by giving of ourselves, and teach others how to develop character in their own lives,” says Vanguard track and cross country coach Bryan Wilkins.

Athletics are also considered a ministry at VU and they provide opportunities to learn about oneself, life situations, discipline, teamwork and the development of one’s talents. The ultimate goal is that student-athletes will embrace a healthy perspective on the use of time and talents they have as they serve Christ.

“Our Champions of Character program provides a road map for our guys to help them in their daily walk and shows them how to not only put positive into their lives, but how to put positive into other people’s lives as well,” notes men’s basketball coach Rhett Soliday.

In order to implement Champions of Character at Vanguard specifically, the athletics department created a pyramid to help establish “Gold Pride” throughout the school. The pyramid consists of an administrative foundation (direction, financial stability and governance), pursuing excellence academically, athletically and in building character and achieving significance through faith perspective, being professionally engaged and student leadership.

In addition to the pyramid, Vanguard established a program called LIONS (Leaders Influencing Our Nation’s Sports). This was created within the structure of the Champions of Character program to support the Gold Pride program. LIONS consists of a selected group of student-athletes who hold themselves to the highest standards of character and challenge their peers in the pursuit of excellence in and out of competition.

“It is our hope that each player aims to be a champion of character. Each player can affect a team, each team can affect a school and each school can affect a community. It is our job, then, to change the culture of sport and the perceptions that come with being a college-aged athlete so that we can leave a positive impact on the community around us,” says Vanguard athletic director and certified Champions of Character instructor Bob Wilson.

The Vanguard University intercollegiate athletic program is dedicated to the holistic growth and development of all student athletes, teaching them to lead Christ-centered lives on and off the field of competition. The program encourages a high standard of academic and athletic excellence that embraces character building. Along with the specific-sports instruction, the department seeks significance by providing the student athlete with the knowledge to impact his/her world through a lifetime of service to Christ.

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