As a member of the Wolverine Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC) of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), Lourdes participates in NAIA's Champions of Character program. The purpose of the program is to instill an understanding of character values in sport and provide practical tools for student athletes, coaches and parents to use in modeling exemplary character traits.
Lourdes and other NAIA member institutions believe that sports do not build character in young people; instead, character-driven adults do.
"Each institution is expected to uphold NAIA's five core values – integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership," notes Lisa Binkowski, Associate Athletic Director and Champions of Character Coordinator. "We are responsible for grading ourselves through a scorecard system. At the end of each academic year, institutions who have achieved the highest scores will be recognized as Five Star Institutions."
During the 2011-12 academic year, all student athletes, coaches and athletic personnel were required to complete online courses. Lisa completed two courses last spring at the NAIA convention to receive her certification as a Champions of Character Coordinator.
"The athletics department and the entire Lourdes Community take pride in the role we play," adds Lisa. "It's not just about the coaches or students' attitudes and behavior. The values they exhibit spill over to the fans and the institution to be exemplary citizens and stewards. In the end, the Champions of Character program aligns perfectly with the Franciscan values on which Lourdes was founded."
The efforts of Lourdes Gray Wolves teams this year have made a difference in the communities they represent: