MSU President's Column for Traill County Tribune

January 7, 2017

NAIA and Mayville State committed to advancing character-driven athletics


For more than a decade, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Champions of Character program has been making a difference in developing athletes, coaches, and parents of character. Mayville State University is proud to have been recognized as an exemplary Champions of Character institution several times. The vision of the program is to change the culture of sport. Its mission is to provide training to instill the values that build character so students, coaches, and parents know, do, and value the right thing on and off the field.

Research shows that the longer a student spends in sports, their social reasoning – sacrificing for the good of the team – rises, while their moral reasoning skills – doing what is fair, just, honest, and noble – decline. The Champions of Character program helps participants find the balance by keeping five core values – integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship, and servant leadership – at the heart of the athletics experience. Students learn to understand how the values play out in both practice and competition. Coaches are taught how to intentionally define, model, shape, and reinforce the values through their coaching and mentoring. Parents learn how their behavior is key to supporting their athletes.

Together with the NAIA, Mayville State is committed to advancing character-driven athletics. Assistant athletic director and head baseball coach Scott Berry is Mayville State’s Champions of Character liaison.

Berry said, “The NAIA Champions of Character program is a wonderful and unique way of teaching coaches and student athletes about what really is important in intercollegiate athletics and competition. This program is designed to emphasize the importance of team play, service and servant leadership, healthy and helpful encouragement, and fair play. Coaches and student athletes are exposed to educational opportunities and programs conducted outside of their programs via videos, books, online educational materials, and various other training materials. The NAIA has done an exemplary job of promoting athletics in a way not seen in other affiliations and we are very happy and proud to be active participants in this dynamic process.”

Much is required of student athletes. They need to maintain a healthy balance between class work, practice, strength training, part-time jobs, extra-curricular activities, and a social life. Even so, the Mayville State student athletes look forward to opportunities to serve the community.

As part of the Mayville State Athletic Department commitment to the Champions of Character program, student athletes teamed up to help out in the community the week of Nov. 28. They began the week by serving at the Luther Memorial Home, where they helped residents and staff decorate for the Christmas season during the day. They wrapped up their time there by playing Bingo with the residents in the evening.

On Wednesday, Nov. 30, the Comets hosted kids from the Mayville State Child Development Center at the Lewy Lee Fieldhouse. They organized games and activities and had lots of fun with the youngsters.

The athletes were at May-Port CG’s Peter Boe, Jr. Elementary School on Friday, Dec. 2. There, they spoke about respect and sportsmanship to students in the older grades and read with students in the younger grades.

The Comet coaches and players were very excited for these opportunities to volunteer in the community. They will continue their individual and collective efforts to make sure they are supporting the local community throughout the school year. Servant leadership is one of the core values of the NAIA, and having the athletes serve the community is a great way to teach and learn more about this.

Intercollegiate athletics plays a very important role in the life of Mayville State University. We are fortunate to count many talented athletes of good character among the members of our student body. They are a very important part of the fabric that makes MSU a dynamic institution where personal service is of utmost importance. We hope that you will take the opportunity to get to know these folks by attending their games and greeting them when you see them out and about in the community.