Purdue University North Central has been named a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Champions of Character institution for the 2014-15 academic year. PNC has earned the award every year since the award’s inception in 2002.
This year PNC was among 169 institutions named as Five-Star Award winners. Schools earning this distinction share the NAIA commitment to high standards and the principle that participation in athletics serves as an integral part of the total education process.
The mission of Champions of Character is to restore character values and raise a generation of students who understand and demonstrate in everyday decisions respect, responsibility, integrity, servant leadership and sportsmanship. The program is dedicated to the principle that character is a choice and that being a champion is not just about winning, but making good decisions in daily life.
The NAIA and member institutions use the Champions of Character program to instill an understanding of character values in sports, and provide student-athletes, coaches and parents the training to help them know and do the right things, inside and outside the sports setting.
“We are proud of our student athletes and all that they accomplish on the field, in the classroom and in the community. For PNC to consistently earn Champions of Character status confirms our focus on ensuring that our student-athletes succeed in sports, in their academic endeavors and in the world,” said PNC Chancellor Dr. James B. Dworkin.
To be considered a Champions of Character institution, schools must demonstrate how the Champions of Character program is incorporated in athletic contests, public service projects, established policies related to behavior in practice and game situations, athletic and academic environment and character education.
“We are honored once again to achieve designation as a Champions of Character Five Star institution,” said Tom Albano, PNC director of Athletics. “Being one of the very few schools to maintain this award since its inception shows the commitment our student-athletes and coaches have made to the five points on the star: integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership.”
Student-athletes have volunteered at athletic clinics, they’ve worked with children at the Michigan City Boys and Girls Club, they’ve helped the ValPLAYso volunteer effort, they keep a stretch of Indiana 421 clean, they’ve aided the Salvation Army, they were part of the Taste of Valparaiso and they lend a hand to many PNC projects.
A natural fit for many of PNC’s hardworking athletes is to participate and assist in hosting camps and clinics for youngsters around the many community high schools, parks and recreational youth leagues.
“Put us with a bunch of kids and we’ll stay all day long,” said freshman baseball player Christian Bland, an Electrical Engineering major. “I grew up volunteering, so I’m always ready to help.”
The PNC baseball team in particular took a leading role in this year’s efforts and helped with Portage High School and Valparaiso Parks baseball camps and hosted a camp on campus through the State Park Little League. The student athletes went to the Michigan City Boys and Girls club to talk about baseball, inspire the
youngsters to work out and maintain healthy lifestyles and led a game of Whiffle Ball.
Whether it’s helping to prepare a holiday dinner or maintain the stretch of highway in front of PNC, the athletes have a good time.
“We make everything fun,” explained junior outfielder Kyle Hernandez, an Elementary Education major. “We look forward to helping out.”
The team also participated in the “Play for Bryce” CCAC baseball benefit game while various Panther athletes helped out at the Sinai Forum speaking series, Red Cross blood drives, the PNC Barker Mansion holiday party, Chancellor’s Invitational Golf Outing, the Panther Pounce 5K/10K, created their very own Haunted Trail and have assisted with various Veteran’s activities.
On campus many athletes are called upon routinely to pick up the slack and are asked to volunteer where needed. These activities range from and include Career Fairs, or greeters at open houses for prospective students, they serve as team leaders at New Student Orientation and transport elderly and disabled family members at PNC commencement.
The student athletes agree that in the end, they truly enjoy giving their time and talents.
“People are always so welcoming to us. When we work with younger kids, they listen to us and are happy we’re there. We are fortunate to be in a position to help,” said senior catcher Alex May. “I am happy to give back when I have been given so much.”
“The Panther Pack realize that the individuals they help appreciate what they do,” said Albano.