a Sierra University’s student athletes reflected on how participation in athletics plays an important part in character development during a weekend retreat in August. Sponsored by the Division of Student Life and the Golden Eagles Athletic program, it involved more than 130 athletes, coaches, and university staff and was held at the Camp Cedar Falls conference center.
“Our intention was to help our student athletes better understand the faith-based community of which they are members and that they are responsible for representing,” says Yami Bazan, vice president for student life. The weekend also included a number of activities designed to develop a greater team bond within the Golden Eagles Athletic Department.
Workshops during the retreat focused on two key topics:
- Helping athletes understand the Seventh-day Adventist Church and its beliefs.
- Learning the key principles of the Champions of Character program, an initiative of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), the intercollegiate sports governing body to which La Sierra belongs.
Sam Leonor, La Sierra University campus pastor, reminded students about their responsibility to represent La Sierra University in the most positive manner, both on and off the field of play.
“I was impressed with how respectful and attentive our students were during our conversation about Adventist beliefs and identity,” says Leonor. “I am satisfied that they will be great representatives of our institution and what we stand for.”
Bob Wilson, Vanguard University athletic director, explained the five core values of the NAIA Champions of Character program: integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship, and servant leadership. La Sierra uses the Champions of Character program to help integrate faith and learning within the athletic environment.
Former University of CaliforniaRiverside athletic director Stan Morrison concluded the weekend by sharing how athletics played an integral role in his success. Morrison touched on various aspects of his career—winning a basketball national championship at the University of California-Berkeley, playing professional basketball in Spain, and coaching at various NCAA Division I institutions.
“The retreat overall was a good experience and an eye opener,” says volleyball player Johanna Tope. “I think it taught us to be leaders in many ways.”