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Champions of Character Summit Makes Impact On Student-Athletes

September 17, 2014

Story by Crossroads League office

WINONA LAKE, Ind.
— The Crossroads League Champions of Character Summit took place in the Manahan Orthopaedic Capital Center on the campus of Grace (Ind.) College Monday, Sept. 15. 

Student-athletes from institutions in the Crossroads League listened to a variety of speakers and participated in panel discussion questions hosted by Grace Athletic Director Chad Briscoe.

Grace President Dr. Bill Katip kicked off the morning as he talked about the Crossroads League being dedicated to character-driven intercollegiate athletics. He also focused on the NAIA's core values going beyond the court and driving our daily decision making.

Kristin Gillette, Director of the NAIA Champions of Character, spoke about the NAIA's core values, which are integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership. Gillette also focused on the Live 5 Training Course the NAIA has in place and made an impactful statement regarding character—"If character isn't your first priority, all your other priorities are at risk."

Chad Briscoe, Grace Athletic Director, led the student-athlete panel discussion as he asked each group a couple questions and created dialogue amongst the group.

Next, Grace Vice President for Student and Academic Services, thanked each student-athlete for all their hard work and dedication to their sport and institutions. Swanson spoke about leadership being transformational and the need for Christ to change us.

Chad Briscoe, Grace Athletic Director, followed up Swanson with his focus on living out the Champions of Character core values. Briscoe showed videos and gave examples and the core values in action. He also talked about the power of communication and asked how we choose to build others up. Briscoe used scripture (Proverbs 12:18, 15:1, 15:4) to highlight the power of communication. Briscoe said, "I like the Champions of Character program because you can take others with you. It's a lifelong pursuit."

J.D. Collins, Crossroads League Commissioner, capped off the Champions of Character Summit. Collins focused on the servant leadership portion of the five core values of the NAIA Champions of Character program. He emphasized that a servant leader must prioritize relationships and serving those you have relationships with will reflect the heart of a servant leader. "People pay more attention to what you DO than what you SAY!" said Collins.

Chad Briscoe wrapped up the Champions of Character Summit as he challenged the student-athletes to go back to their respective campuses and find ways to make a difference with their team and athletic department.

"We are thankful for the opportunity for Grace College to host this great event. It was terrific to see the emphasis in the Crossroads League be placed on building character in the lives of student-athletes. It was a great day for all the student-athletes, and we look forward to seeing continued character development throughout the year in the League," said Briscoe.

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Collins added, "I am very proud of all Crossroads League Student-Athletes!  The first annual Crossroads League Champions of Character Summit was a huge success.  I was very impressed with the maturity, professionalism and passion that our student-athletes exhibited.  The Summit was a great opportunity to learn from some very good speakers, share with one another what is happening at each campus and unite it an effort to impact each of those campuses.  To focus for a day on integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership was good for everyone that attended.  It is days like today that make me very proud to be a part of the Crossroads League and the NAIA."

What student-athletes had to say about the Crossroads League Champions of Character Summit: 

TANNER WYSE    JR    Baseball    Huntington University (Ind.)

"My experience at the Champions of Character Summit was one that was definitely influential.  There were many good speakers that had some good messages, both on character and on leadership.  I enjoyed listening to what the speakers had to say about the importance of good character.  It was also interesting to hear the views of fellow student-athletes in the Crossroads League and the many ways in which they were impacting their campuses.  I was able to take away some valuable input from some of the speakers.  As college students, we are at a stage in our lives in which moral reasoning is not often a top priority.  Being student athletes, we need to be aware of this because our platform can be so powerful as others look to us for leadership and direction.  It is so very important that we place our character at the top of our list of priorities.  Good character drives excellence in the classroom as well as on the stage of athletic competition."

EMMA STAHL    SR    Women's Basketball    Indiana Wesleyan University

"Firstly, I wanted to say I was honored to be apart of the first Champions of Character Summit in the Crossroads League.  As a representative of IWU and the athletic department, I am blessed to be apart of a league that looks at sports as more than just a game, but a metaphor of life.  Playing basketball at Indiana Wesleyan has challenged me to grow in more ways than I thought possible, on and off the court.  Our conference is made up of more than players and teams. We are student-athletes using sports as a platform to glorify the Lord.  This platform was given to us so we can lead by example and serve those around us.  We have been privileged to be in a position where people see our actions and test our core values.  How do we want to impact those around us?  How do we want to impact those who only get the chance to see God through teams they play against?   Athletes can show the Live 5 core values [integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship, and servant leader] in everything they do and to everyone they meet or may see in all environments.  When you look back at those people who truly influenced your life, it's not because of how good of an athlete they were or how many achievements they received. These people will forever be embedded in your mind because they were genuine and invested in you.  It was their accountability that wanted to make you a better person and do the right thing.  It was their servant leadership that motivated you to go out into the community and exemplify Jesus Christ just by helping someone in need or even someone who is just having a bad day. It was their courage and voice who speak to you now when you know something isn't right or find someone creating darkness to everything you care about. This is what sets our conference apart from others.  CHARACTER.  Character is when someone has mental and moral qualities that are distinctive to that individual.  It's a mindset and lifestyle you live out in your every day life, no matter if you're going through highs or lows."

"To follow that, a quote that really stuck with me from the summit was, " You may not always do what you profess, but you will always do what you believe."  Why would someone believe something you say if you don't even believe it yourself?  This goes along the lines of exhibiting your core values through your attitude as well as your behavior.  I understand we will not always make the right choice nor do the right thing, but if we can learn from our failures our character will grow stronger and stronger.  From one person to another we can show righteousness and spread the values that epitomize who Jesus Christ is throughout each and every one of our athletic departments and furthermore our campus'."

SAMMY SCARINGELLI    SR    Women's Soccer    University of Saint Francis (Ind.)

"I had a wonderful experience. It opened my eyes to just how special the Crossroads League is because of how much we value Champions of Character. The biggest lesson I took away from the experience that I would share with my team was that it's a choice to care. We should praise in public and reprimand things privately.We need to respond, not react to situations and lead with love. Leading with love, also means we need to listen to each other, even if we don't agree. If we focus on our relationships with teammates, officials, coaches, parents, and Christ, then we can lead a successful life on and off the field through the Champions of Character."

ALIKA KINGSBURY    SR    Softball    Spring Arbor University (Mich.)

"I really enjoyed my experience at the champions of character summit.  I have attended other leadership seminars before, but never before one that was specifically focused on athletes and leadership in sport.  The speaker's were knowledgeable and I appreciated their advice and words that they had to share.  However the most influential part for me was interacting with my fellow athletes.  By getting to know other athletes that are our rivals and the people that we want to beat, they become a person with feelings and rather than just being the opponent, they're an acquaintance.  I had a particularly cool experience that I want to share though."

"Last year during the season, we were playing a conference game against Grace.  I'm a second baseman so I was catching a ball to turn a double play but the girl running to second slid/ran right in to me.  I ended up getting cleated and was not able to turn the double play because of this.  A few of my close teammates and I instantly despised this girl for this, what we called, a 'dirty' slide.  Whenever we played her in the future I would instantly get angry with her.  Well, she ended up being the girl who I sat with yesterday and talked to for most of the day.  I didn't recognize her since we were out of our uniforms, so when we started talking she said "I remember playing Spring Arbor last year, I tore my labrum against you guys"  I apologized and asked her what had happened and then she explained her side of that situation.  Turns out that she had had knee surgery earlier that year and was not supposed to slide, however she knew that to break up the double play she had to.  So she did her job by sliding but was not able to do it properly because of her injured knee, ultimately cleating me, and also injuring her labrum because of the bad form.  She said "I felt so bad for cleating that girl, I think it might have been your shortstop.  But I just felt so awful!"

"I ended up telling her that it was me that was in that play and you could just tell that she never intended for that to happen.  This taught me so much and was probably the biggest learning thing I got out of the seminar.  Each of our opponents is a person with their own battles going on.  Very few people do things intentionally to hurt another person, and treating everyone with respect makes everything better.  During the season I need to keep this in mind and will have to remind my teammates of that as well.  It does no good to despise the people you're playing against, you're both people with the same goal, it just happens to be that you ended up on different teams."

SHELBI LOWE    SO    Women's Soccer    Taylor University (Ind.)

"After attending the leadership summit this past Monday, there was one major take away that I am hoping to bring back to the team, and to the university. Being a leader brings many hardships. One of the hardest battles a leader faces is leading themselves. Mentally, it's hard to respond positively in any and all circumstances. It's even more difficult if you don't believe in yourself. After hearing the speakers give their point of view on being a better leader, I realized that if a leader doesn't take the time to work through the disbelief in their life, they will never be able to inspire a team to believe in themselves."

"So many times in life, we allow circumstances, self doubt, and the devil to grab our thoughts and bring us to a point of self pity. In a game, if you don't believe in yourself, you are instantly beatable. In life, if you don't believe in yourself, you are immediately defeated. Putting time aside as a leader to humbly address your negative thoughts will change your team, change your game, and change your life.  If you believe in yourself, you become unstoppable. This opens up an opportunity to create an environment that involves people overcoming their lack of faith, and achieving victory in every area of their lives. I'm incredibly blessed to have been able to attend this leadership summit."

MEGAN JOHNSON    SO    Volleyball    Grace College (Ind.)

"I really benefited from this leadership summit and learned a lot about the way a leadership should conduct himself/herself. Learning the 5 core principles Crossroads League stands on and understanding them more in depth really motivated to analyze how my specific sports team is incorporating those values into how we interact with other teams and how we conduct ourselves. I really took away from this conference that being a leader has nothing to do with your title or position. I am sophomore, not a captain, and don't always start but my role on the team is to put others before myself first and foremost and make sure my fellow teammates know that they are heard and cared about. This summit really blessed me and I would love to attend again next year!"

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