SPRING ARBOR, Mich. – The Spring Arbor University women’s basketball team is the recipient of the NAIA’s Buffalo Funds Five-Star Champions of Character Team Award. The award is presented to one institution in each of the NAIA’s 25 championship sports at the end of each season, and highlights teams that represent integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership.
“I can’t say enough about the character of this team, especially our senior class,” said head coach Ryan Frost. “Over the past four years they have created a culture of servant leadership in our program. They have taken the opportunity to mentor our underclassmen, assist them with academic issues without being asked, go over offense outside of practice, console them about difficult social situations and doing things as little as cleaning the locker room. This has created trust inside the group, so when times are tough on the floor they lean into each other.”
The SAU women’s basketball team is well known in the Crossroads League for its intense work rate on the court. Off the court though, they have served the community by organizing and running several large American Red Cross blood drives, visiting a local elementary school, conducting a free basketball clinic at a local church and volunteering as mentors for at-risk kids through “Kids Hope.” Additionally, each year the team spends its Fall Break helping build a house for a local family through Habitat for Humanity.
Senior Karly Bender (Brighton, MI / Brighton) said, “When it all comes down to it, everything is about the team. Character is important because the team will hold themselves to a higher standard and represent the team. Character has helped my team and myself this season by pushing us to always give our best in every situation on and off the floor.”
The NAIA aims to create teams of character-driven collegiate student-athletes, and the SAU women’s basketball team earned this top honor because they have strived for excellence in and out of competition.
This is the second time a Spring Arbor athletic program has been honored as a Buffalo Funds Five-Star Champions of Character Award recipient joining the 2010 SAU men’s cross country team.