Article by the Central Methodist Athletic Department
FAYETTE, Mo. - Central Methodist, a NAIA Five-Star Champions of Character institution for 11 straight years, is spreading its message of integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership to area youth.
The Eagles' Athletic Department and Office of Student Development hosted 77 middle school students from five area middle schools to a Champions of Character Luncheon on Friday on the fourth floor of the Inman Student and Community Center. Current and former Central Methodist student-athletes and coaches treated the students from Salisbury, Boonville, Bunceton, Fayette and Glasgow to a free lunch and spoke to them for two hours about the five core values that have made Central Methodist a leader in the NAIA community for over a decade.
"Our institution has always strived to be a positive role model in Mid-Missouri and nationwide," Central Methodist vice president and athletic director Ken Oliver said. "So much of the media today with college athletics focuses on the negative side of players and coaches, but there are many good people doing great things at the collegiate level, and that's no different with our group in Fayette."
The Central Methodist contingent to speak with the youth included Oliver, president Dr. Roger Drake, women's basketball coach James Arnold, football coach Jody Ford, former women's track athlete and coach Dionne George, former football player Keeyon Howard and six current student-athletes: football's Marco Romano, women's basketball's Kyra Williams and Sammie Jo Copeland, volleyball's Julia Weber and men's basketball's Seth Dahlke.
Eddie the Eagle was also on hand to greet students for an afternoon of fun and excitement.
Former Eagles' baseball coach and current Boonville principal Fred Smith brought 15 of his students to the luncheon to experience the day. Smith is in his first year at Boonville after guiding Central Methodist's baseball program for six seasons.
The 2012 Eagles' squad was named the NAIA Buffalo Fuels Five Star Champions of Character Baseball Team of the Year. Smith was named the Heart of America Athletic Conference Champions of Character Coach of the Year in 2012 and 2008.
"It was great to be back on CMU's campus and show my kids what great role models these collegiate coaches and players are," Smith said. "As the former Champions of Character coach at CMU, I know how important this program is and how important these values are. It's why I started a Champions of Character program in Boonville."
Afterwards, the middle school students had the opportunity to write down and share with the entire group what each core value meant to them and were presented with free Central Methodist apparel.
"If our message can reach students at a young age, we believe they will have a greater chance at making positive choices now and later in life," Oliver stated.
Central Methodist finished second in the NAIA in 2012-13 on the Champions of Character scorecard, receiving 98 out of a possible 100 points.