In its inaugural season with the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), Lourdes has already begun embracing one of the five main characteristics in its Champions of Character program – servant leadership.
"Lourdes has a history of providing service to the community," explains Lisa Binkowski, Associate Athletic Director and Director of Recreation. "Our coaches have taken their role as servant leaders to heart and have begun to instill in their student-athletes how important it is to be of service to all."
Overseeing the creation of the future Lourdes Athletics Champions of Character program, Lisa is working with the Athletics Staff and members of the Lourdes Community to build a program that represents the five core concepts of respect, responsibility, integrity, sportsmanship and servant leadership.
"It is no surprise that Lourdes is already exhibiting servant leadership in its athletics program," adds Roseanne Gill-Jacobson, Athletic Director and Vice President for Student Life. "One of the reasons we chose NAIA was that its core characteristics mirrored our Franciscan values of community, learning, reverence and service."
Head Coach Greg Reitz, Assistant Coach Mike Froehlich and the women's volleyball team supported two worthy causes during their season – the Susan G. Komen for the Cure® and the American Heart Association.
"I have been a supporter of these organizations for years and it's important for our student-athletes to help build awareness about breast cancer and the importance of taking care of your overall health," adds Coach Reitz.
"The students and the Gray Wolf mascot proudly wore pink for the game in support of women all across the country. Our support didn't stop there. We didn't just raise awareness but dollars as well. It was truly a team effort."
The coaches and team continued to give of their time after the season ended. In time for Christmas, they participated in the Noel Project, distributing toys, bikes, clothing and food to those in need.
The men's basketball team, led by Head Coach Andre Smith and Assistant Coach Leroy King, has taken this same initiative. During their season, they collaborated with Campus Ministry to collect coats, hats, gloves and blankets for those in need during the holiday season.
Additionally, they donated proceeds from most of the January and February home games to the Habitat for Humanity student teams who traveled to Florida to help families build homes during spring break. For their January home game vs. Indiana Tech, the team raised awareness and dollars for the American Cancer Society with their "Coaches vs. Cancer" focus.
"NAIA schools and coaches support this worthy initiative each January," notes Coach Smith. "It is customary for the coaches to wear sneakers on this day. Our students truly enjoyed this and all of our outreach efforts. Taking their cue from the coaches, they are truly learning what it means to be servant leaders."
In this first season, it is evident that Lourdes students have demonstrated to everyone – whether on the playing field or in the community – that they are winners in every aspect.