Story by Wade Neely, SID, Martin Methodist College
PULASKI, Tenn. – In front of a capacity crowd at Martin Hall, the Martin Methodist Athletic Department celebrated its commitment to character at its 15th annual Champions of Character Convocation Monday morning.
In one of the longest-standing traditions within the Athletic Department, the RedHawks handed out several pieces of hardware as they presented their annual Male and Female Student-Athlete of the Year Award, Team of the Year and Servant Leader of the Year awards.
The RedHawks also welcomed former Tennessee Titans general manager Floyd Reese back to campus as the program’s keynote speaker. Reese, alongside Martin Methodist Executive Director of Athletics Jeff Bain, helped launch the RedHawk Champions of Character program 15 years ago. For his commitment to the Champions of Character program, Reese was presented the Presidential Medallion by Martin Methodist President Dr. Ted Brown.
The convocation came just days after Martin Methodist was named a Silver Champions of Character Institution by the NAIA for their commitment and success within the NAIA’s Champions of Character Scorecard during the 2014-15 academic year.
Former RedHawk Men’s Basketball standout Reginald Porter received the Male Student-Athlete of the Year award. Porter, who helped lead the RedHawks to the NAIA Men’s Basketball national tournament quarterfinals, is scheduled to depart to pursue a professional opportunity in Asia later this week.
Women’s Soccer goalkeeper Jhani Williams was named Co-Female Student-Athlete of the Year. Williams led the RedHawks to the NAIA Women’s Soccer national tournament quarterfinals during her senior season. While finishing her academic career this year at Martin Methodist, Williams has taken a role within the RedHawk Volleyball program this season.
Women’s Basketball guard Kelsey Nowlin also earned Co-Female Student-Athlete of the Year status. Nowlin played just two seasons in a RedHawk uniform, but emerged as one of the team’s most dominant players and was the leader of a squad that qualified for the NAIA Women’s Basketball national tournament for the very first time in 2014-15.
The Martin Methodist Men and Women’s Golf teams were honored as the Team of the Year award winners. Head coach Matt Rackley’s squads were presented the honor for their commitment to giving back in the community. What started as a grassroots effort, the RedHawk Golf teams began serving breakfast at various events at First United Methodist Church. The campaign continued and has expanded to become a staple of the RedHawk Athletic Department as a whole.
Fred Hyde, a 23-year member of the Martin Methodist maintenance staff, was honored as the Servant Leader of the Year.
In addition to Reese, Southern States Athletic Conference Commissioner Mike Hall was also on hand during the hourlong ceremony.
“This is truly one of our highlights of our year,” Bain said. “We view our Champions of Character convocation as the ‘kick-off’ of our academic and athletic years. We celebrate the successes and commitment to character of our student-athletes from the previous year and challenge our current crop of student-athletes to replicate the previous group’s success. We were delighted to welcome back Mr. Floyd Reese, who is truly a Champion of Character in his own right. This was a special day to highlight the good that our student-athletes and staff members do in the community.”