NAIA honors Brewton-Parker as Champions of Character institution

By Terry Gaston
BPC Public Relations

MOUNT VERNON -- Brewton-Parker College athletic director and men's basketball coach Steve Barker believes Christian-based institutions and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics' service initiative are a perfect complement.

Based on the community activities in which Brewton-Parker student-athletes have participated in the past year, the NAIA recently recognized the college as being a Champions of Character institution.

"With Brewton-Parker being a Christian College, one of the foremost things we want to do is to extend ourselves into the communities," Barker said. "I think it is easy for athletes to give of their time in such projects, because community people come to our athletic events and support them."

In the spring, the Baron baseball players conducted a clinic for area youngsters and the entire athletic department joined Mount Vernon Mayor Joey Fountain and the Mount Vernon Police Department for a clean-up along several miles of U.S. Highway 280.

Brewton-Parker soccer teams conducted preseason clinics the past two Augusts, the men in 2002 and the women in 2003, for youth in the Vidalia and Lyons youth soccer programs.

In September, seniors on the women's basketball team conducted a clinic at the Boys and Girls Club in Vidalia that also served as their project for Brewton-Parker's Centennial Scholars Program.

In October, the men's basketball players were involved in two projects. They worked at Toombs Central Elementary School's Fall Festival and spent a day at Ocmulgee State Park in Eastman with 90 Heartland Academy students from Eastman, Dublin and Montgomery County.

"We are going to strive to do something like these activities all year long to better the community through sport," Barker said.

The NAIA national office and its Character Committee made Brewton-Parker's selection as one of 194 Champions of Character institutions. The NAIA introduced the initiative in 2000 to emphasize character development among student-athletes and youth sports.

"The NAIA is not only taking a stand but is also being noticed for the positive impact we are having on sport," said Rob Miller, the director of Champions of Character initiatives.

In April, Miller presented a program on Champions of Character in conjunction with the dedication of Brewton-Parker's Student Activities Center, which student-athletes from the college and area high schools attended.

Champions of Character is based on five key points: respect for yourself, opponents and the games; responsibility in being accountable for one's actions; integrity in being honest and truthfulness; servant leadership by putting one's team first; and sportsmanship through having good character and doing what is right.

"What student-athletes develop in their intense regimen of practice and competition is not just an appreciation of their game and an attitude of excellence toward it," said Dr, David Smith, Brewton-Parker's president. "Rather, student-athletes develop strong character that supports their efforts to succeed throughout life.

"When that character is molded spiritually as well as physically, the result is profound for society. I salute our fine student-athletes at Brewton-Parker College, and I am confident of their success in all avenues of life when they graduate from here."


Brewton-Parker College men's basketball players from second left) freshman Stanley Johnson of Atlanta, senior Jarvis Smith (as Franklin the turtle) of Atlanta, senior Hector Solano of Miami, Fla., and junior Tre Hill of Waycross take a break from their running of activities at Toombs Central Elementary School's Fall Festival in October. The team's participation is one of many that earned Brewton-Parker recognition as a Champions of Character institution by the NAIA. (Photo by Steve Barker)

Brewton-Parker College men's basketball players Ryan Rodgers (left), a freshman from Atlanta, and David Byrne (right), a junior from Rincon, Ga., work at a basketball throw at Toombs Central Elementary School's Fall Festival in October in Cedar Crossing, Ga. The team's participation is one of many that earned Brewton-Parker recognition as a Champions of Character institution by the NAIA. (Photo by Steve Barker)